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Abstract

Maternal depression is a global public health issue (Almond, 2009); however, much of the existing research on conditions like the ‘baby blues’ and postpartum depression have been conducted with White women in North America and Europe. This narrative review seeks to expand the scope of maternal depression research by including and analyzing maternal depression studies conducted with Caribbean descent women living in the Diaspora and women in the English-speaking Caribbean alongside some of the work from North America and Europe. Through this engagement with the existing research three thematic areas emerged. These are: widely used prevalence and incidence rates of the ‘baby blues’ and postpartum depression which do not reflect rates in the Caribbean and other developing countries; distinct explanatory models which help Caribbean descent women understand postpartum depression and are informed by their social, cultural, and historical contexts; and the question of how Caribbean women’s diverse social realities and identities have been grappled with by researchers doing work in this area.

The major feature that crosscuts these thematic areas is the fact of difference. This is exemplified by the Intersectional identities of Caribbean descent women in the Diaspora and region which helps to vary the data on maternal depression and present a fuller representation of women’s experiences with conditions like the ‘baby blues’ and postpartum depression. Collectively, the findings of this review reinforce the notion that “Caribbeanness” must take into account the multiple identities and experiences Caribbean women negotiate historically and contemporarily. The paper concludes with further engagement with this fact of difference, and a discussion about what kinds of interventions and conceptual/theoretical tools may be useful to advancing the study of maternal depression amongst Caribbean women in the Diaspora and region.

Note on the Author

Fatimah Jackson-Best is a Global Health Research Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Nursing. Her PhD is from the University of Toronto, Dalla Lana School of Public Health. Between 2010 and 2015 Fatimah lived and worked in Barbados, where she became involved in collaborative research studies and initiated her dissertation research. The qualitative research project used Black and Caribbean Feminist theoretical frameworks to explore Black women’s experiences, understandings, and management of self-reported postpartum depression and the ‘baby blues’ in Barbados.

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