maternal happiness, an indicator of quality of life that may decrease the
effects of negative emotions such as postpartum depression, is not well
studied. The purpose of this analysis was to explore how postpartum mothers
experience happiness. Data were part of two cross-sectional studies with
snowball sampling designed to understand health status of Chinese postpartum
mothers. Forty-eight and 151 Chinese mothers within 1-year postpartum in the
United States and Taiwan, respectively, answered an open-ended question about
the happiest events they experienced during the postpartum period. Qualitative
data were analyzed by bracketing contexts to meaning units, aggregating meaning
units into themes, and deriving a thematic structure that fitted all themes.
Interconnectedness and fulfillment were identified as describing postpartum
maternal happiness. Existence of the baby, interaction with the baby,
connecting everybody in the family, and integration of the baby into the family
were the categories of interconnectedness whereas extension of mother’s life,
achievement, and being supported were the categories of fulfillment. The center
of the postpartum mother’s life was the baby and the baby, as well as
activities associated with the baby, was the main source of mothers’ happiness.
Family support and achievement of various expectations, including continuation
of the family name, also contributed to maternal happiness. Helping new mothers
to understand both positive and negative emotions may encourage further
discussion about areas in which mothers are feeling particularly challenged. Interventions
such as cognitive counseling that stresses positive emotions may be used to
assist new mothers find a healthy balance of emotions, especially cope with
depression or feelings of sadness.
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