The Postpartum Period

Analytic Reflections on the Potential for Agony and Ecstasy
  • Leanne Domash


There is frequently a cataclysmic effect on the personality of the mother during the postpartum period as she adjusts to her infant and the now enlarged family unit. The new mother is experiencing significant hormonal shifts and physiological changes, including some subtle rebound effects (that is, certain mechanisms were turned off during pregnancy and afterward get turned on again and overshoot the mark). The mother is in the midst of forming a very close bond with her baby, referred to as “primary maternal preoccupation” (Winnicott, 1956). If she is nursing, another complex set of hormones is being released.


Postpartum Period Breast Feeding Postpartum Depression Nursing Experience Heighten Sensitivity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abolins, J. A. (1954). Das stillen und die temperatur der brust. Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica,33, 60–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Adler, E. M. & Cox, J. L. (1983). Breast feeding and post-natal depression. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 27, 139–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Arieti, S. (1976). Creativity: The magic synthesis, New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  4. Bental, V. (1965). Psychic mechanisms of the adoptive mother in connection with adoption. Israel Annals of Psychiatry, 3,24–34.Google Scholar
  5. Blum, H. (1978). Reconstruction in a case of postpartum depression. Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 33, 335–362.Google Scholar
  6. Bond, A. H. (1984). Virginia Woolf: Manic-depressive psychosis and genius. An illustration of separation-individuation theory. Journal of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis,13, 191–210.Google Scholar
  7. Braverman, J., & Roux, J. F. (1978). Screening for the patient at risk for postpartum depression. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 56,731.Google Scholar
  8. Campbell, B., & Petersen, W. E. (1953). Milk let-down and orgasm in the human female. Human Biology, 25, 165–168.Google Scholar
  9. Dalton, K. (1971). Prospective study into puerperal depression. British Journal of Psychiatry, 118, 689–692.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Domash, L. (1981). Facilitating the creativity of the psychotherapist. The Arts in Psychotherapy, 8, 157–163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gelder, M. (1978). Hormones and postpartum depression. In M. J. Sandler (Ed.), Mental illness in pregnancy and puerperium. London: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Guilford, J. P. (1957). Creative abilities in the arts. Psychology Review, 64, 110–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Grandison, L., & Guidotti, A. (1977). Regulation of prolactin release by endogenous opiates. Nature, 270, 357–359.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hammer, E. F. (1968). Use of interpretation in treatment technique and art. New York: Grune & Stratton.Google Scholar
  15. Hammer, E. F. (1972). The creative process in treatment. Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy, 4:81–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Homer, A. (1968). Genetic aspects of creativity. In C. Buhler and J. Massarik (Eds.), The course of human life (pp. 123–139). New York, Springer.Google Scholar
  17. Homer, A. (1984). Object relations and the developing ego in therapy,2nd ed. New York: Jason Aronson.Google Scholar
  18. Jones, H. W., & Jones, G. S. (1981). Novak’s textbook of gynecology,10th ed. (p. 52). Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins.Google Scholar
  19. Kaplan, L. (1978). Oneness and separateness: From infant to individual. New York: Simon & Schuster.Google Scholar
  20. Karlsson, J. L. (1968). Geneologic studies of schizophrenia. In D. Rosenthal and S. Kely (Eds.), The Transmission of Schizophrenia. Oxford, England: Pergamon Press.Google Scholar
  21. Kinsey, A. B., Pomeroy, W. B., Martin, C. E. & Gebhard, P. H. (1953). Sex behavior in the human female. By staff of Institute for Sex Research, Indiana University. Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders.Google Scholar
  22. Kris, E. (1952). On preconscious mental processes. In Psychoanalytic explorations in art. New York: International Universities Press.Google Scholar
  23. Masters, W. H. (1960). Sexual response cycle of human female. Western Journal Surgery, 68, 57–75.Google Scholar
  24. Menaker, E. (1953). Masochism: a defense reaction of the ego. Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 22, 205–220.Google Scholar
  25. Moir, C. (1934). Recording the contractions of human pregnant and non-pregnant uterus. Transactions of the Edinburgh Obstetrical Society, 54, 93–120.Google Scholar
  26. Monheit, A. G., Cousins, L., & Resnik, R. (1980). The puerperium: anatomic and physiologic readjustments. Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology, 23, 973–984.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Newton, N. (1958). Influence of let-down reflex in breast feeding on mother/child relationship. Marriage and Family Living, 20,18–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Newton, N. & Newton, M. (1950). Relationship of ability to breast feed and maternal attitudes towards breast feeding. Pediatrics,5, 869–875.Google Scholar
  29. Newton, N., & Newton, M. (1967). Psychologic aspects of lactation. New England Journal of Medicine, 277, 1179–1187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Rockwell, S. (1985). Illusion and identity: The Wordsworthian experience of merging as sustenance for identity. Meetings of the Division of Psychoanalysis of the American Psychological Association, New York, April.Google Scholar
  31. Spitz, R. (1965). The first year of life. New York: International Universities Press.Google Scholar
  32. Stoller, R. (1977). Primary femininity. In H. Blum (Ed.), Female psychology (pp. 59–78). New York: International Universities Press.Google Scholar
  33. Tanzer, D. (1976). Why natural childbirth? New York: Schocken Books.Google Scholar
  34. Wideman, M. V., & Singer, J. E. (1984). The role of psychological mechanisms in preparation for childbirth. American Psychologist, 39, 1357–1371.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Winnicott, D. W. (1953). Transitional objects and transitional phenomena. In Playing and reality (pp. 1–30). New York: Penguin, 1980.Google Scholar
  36. Winnicott, D. W. (1956). Primary maternal preoccupation. In Through paediatrics to psychoanalysis (pp. 300–305). New York: Basic Books, 1958.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leanne Domash
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Beth Israel Medical CenterNew York CityUSA
  2. 2.Mount Sinai School of MedicineUSA

Personalised recommendations