Research

Maternal mental health and caregiver competence of HIV-positive and negative women caring for their singleton newborns in KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa

G Rencken, P Govender, C J E Uys

Abstract


Background. Maternal mental health during the perinatal period has been of interest to many researchers, with antenatal depression and postnatal depression (PND) being a leading cause of morbidity. The adverse effects of maternal depression on the offspring throughout infancy, childhood and adolescence are well documented. Studies on the mental health of persons living with HIV have also reported a high prevalence of depression.

Objectives. To describe the prevalence of PND in a sample of HIV-positive and HIV-negative mothers delivering healthy singleton infants at one obstetric unit in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Province, South Africa, and the subsequent factors influencing neonatal behaviour and perceptions of caregiver competence. Correlations between the presence of PND and perceptions of caregiver competence (with the mother as caregiver), and between infant behaviour, the mother’s confidence in her competence as caregiver, and demographic and medical variables, were also examined.

Methods. Demographic and clinical data were collected from 132 mothers at initial contact and from 32 mothers at the 6-week follow-up appointment. Mothers independently completed the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale at each time point, and the Mother and Baby Scales (MABS) at the 6-week follow-up appointment.

Results. The prevalence of depression among all mothers at initial contact was 72.0%, remaining high (68.8%) among the mothers who returned for follow-up. There was a statistically significant correlation between depression and employment at follow-up (p=0.013), and between depression and delivery method (p=0.030). The majority of mothers reported being ‘able to laugh and see the funny side of things’ and ‘looking forward with enjoyment to things’ at initial contact and follow-up. Thoughts of self-harm were reported by 44.7% of mothers at baseline, and by 53.1% at follow-up. Although most infants scored in the average clinical band for neonatal behavioural factors in the MABS, mothers reported lack of confidence, globally and in caring for their infant.

Conclusion. This study of maternal mental health of a sample of HIV-positive and HIV-negative mothers of infants in KZN revealed a higher prevalence of PND than reported in other studies. This population of mothers and infants is at risk of adverse outcomes of maternal depression, in addition to other possible risk factors.


Authors' affiliations

G Rencken, Discipline of Occupational Therapy, School of Health Sciences, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

P Govender, Discipline of Occupational Therapy, School of Health Sciences, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

C J E Uys, Department of Occupational Therapy, School of Healthcare Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa

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Keywords

Maternal mental health; HIV; Depression; Newborn; Caregiver competence

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2022;112(7):494-501.

Article History

Date submitted: 2022-07-01
Date published: 2022-07-01

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