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Theology and Ministry

Post-Natal Depression

Allison Fenton


In this paper my experience of Postnatal depression sets the agenda, thus offering both a response to a critical incident and attention to the detail of experience which characterises Practical Theology. I explore something of what women experience in their transition to motherhood, especially when this transition leads to depression (although I argue that this happens more often than is usually acknowledged). I aim to describe, and thus deconstruct, the discourse on Postnatal depression, exploring the ideal of the ‘perfect mother’ which pervades the literature although rarely corresponds with the real experience of mothers. While churching might be perceived as belonging to patriarchy, this paper explores whether it might be reclaimed, or whether its association with notions of purification means that liturgies that recognise and celebrate the transition to motherhood should replace it. Towards the end of the paper I offer some suggestions for how such a liturgy might begin to take shape.

Key Words: Motherhood; Postnatal Depression; Churching; Liturgy; Birth

Article (pdf file for download)