148: Maternal Mental Health of Asian Indian Mothers

We are taking a closer look at the cultural aspects of maternal mental health for Asian Indian mothers. There are barriers to finding and receiving mental health care that bear similarites to many Asian cultures. We also hear how culture impacts the motherhood experience. How can we best support them and to seek the help that’s available to them? We’re covering these topics and more in today’s show.

Dr. Deepika Goyal is a Professor of Nursing at San Jose State University and a family nurse practitioner who is passionate about maternal mental health, specifically for women of Asian Indian descent. Dr. Goyal’s research adds to the postpartum mental health narrative regarding Asian American women’s experiences, mental health help-seeking behavior, and preferred management of postpartum depression. Her research findings provide clinicians with the information they need to provide culturally-informed care to promote optimal maternal-child well-being outcomes.

Show Highlights:

  • Goyal’s research from 2001-2002 on postpartum depression, regarding sleep disturbances, infant temperament, marital satisfaction, and social support---all with American women of Indian descent
  • More than half of the women who responded to Deepika’s survey said they had experienced depressive symptoms
  • Mental illness and depressive symptoms are very stigmatized in Asian cultures
  • The range of symptoms are anxiety, “baby blues,” postpartum depression, and postpartum psychosis; there are more mainstream policies and awareness now, but the changes haven’t occurred as quickly in Asian cultures
  • Asian women have a fear of someone in their family finding out, bringing shame to the family, and being seen as a weak woman----if they report postpartum depressive symptoms
  • The most concerning piece Deepika found was that the women wouldn’t seek help until it was a last resort, and they are very much against medications to help their symptoms
  • Why mental health care is seen as a personal failure
  • Why women are beginning to be more open in seeking help, especially those who have been in the US longer
  • The importance of at least 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep for a new mom, and the impact on mental health
  • Some of the postpartum cultural practices of Asian American women:
    • A female relative comes to stay with the new family for 3-4 months
    • 30-40 days of rest at home after birth, with no household duties or leaving the house
    • Herbs are used that improve breast milk production and healing, in addition to special foods rich in fats and healing properties
  • The importance of equipping women DURING pregnancy with information about symptoms and how to know when to seek help when symptoms become more severe
  • Similarities in cultural practices for women from India, China, Korea, and Vietnam
  • What we can do to best support Asian American women in the postpartum
  • How a therapist can understand and best offer help to these women
  • How mom’s health can benefit the baby’s health, and mother-baby bond, and the child’s cognitive and language development
  • What Deepika wants to do in the future with non-pharmacologic interventions, especially in the area of sleep

Resources:

Postpartum Support International

Deepika Goyal

Selected Works of Dr. Goyal can be found HERE

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