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Jane Bott
British Journal of Midwifery, Vol. 9, Iss. 12, 06 Dec 2001, pp 758 - 762

Postnatal depression (PD) is probably the most common complication of the puerperium. According to all the available evidence, the prevalence is at least 10% (Lawrie et al, 2000). While the postnatal period appears to be a particularly significant time, the whole childbearing period is in fact associated with a sharp increase in the prevalence of both psychotic and non-psychotic affective disorders (Department of Health, 1998). The effects of PD may be devastating for the woman and her family. This article will update midwives in relation to the effects of PD, highlighting the need to develop practice to ensure as far as possible that these effects are minimised. Ways in which midwives can make a difference will be explored. By developing their understanding of PD, midwives will be in a better position to provide individualised, women-centred care.

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