Mental Health Support in the Perinatal Period for Women With a Personality Disorder Diagnosis: A Qualitative Study of Women's Experiences

15 Jun 2020
Zacharia A, Taylor BL, Sweeney A, Morant N, Howard LM, Johnson S


Women who receive a diagnosis of personality disorder may face particular challenges in the context of having a baby. However, this area has received little attention. This study aimed to qualitatively explore experiences of mental health support during the perinatal period in a group of mothers who self-reported having a personality disorder diagnosis. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 12 women who received mental health support during the perinatal period. These data were analyzed thematically. Key themes related to women feeling judged to be unfit mothers; not feeling heard or understood by services; feeling that services struggled with the complexity of their needs; valuing specialist support to cope with their struggles in motherhood; and valuing professional relationships that resembled real-life friendships. Our findings raise questions about how best to provide support to this group of women and about the use and consequences of the diagnosis of personality disorder among new mothers.