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Maternal norms of being a "good mother" and a "strong woman”. ​

  • Maternal Norms.

  • Gender equality​.

Maternal Norms

Maternal norms are a barrier to perinatal mental health care.

"It’s quite a matriarchal society, and therefore you’ve got to cope. You’ve got to sort your family out, and so therefore you are not allowed to be depressed."

"I couldn’t tell anybody, because I felt like I’d let everyone down. I wanted to do really well."

Evidence level: ​High

​Parts of the care pathway affected: Decision to consult, Assessment, Decision to disclose, Referral, Access to treatment, Provision of optimal treatment, Women’s experience of treatment​.

Key literature: ​

Button S, et al. 2017

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Gender equality​

There may be some potential to change societal beliefs around maternal norms through increasing societal expectations about fathers’ role in the family through more equal parental leave.  For example, in countries where parental leave is more equal (e.g. Finland), the uptake of paid paternity leave is higher.​

Changing society’s maternal norms could also be done by increasing women’s equality. Research suggests that stereotypes of what a mother or a woman should look like is beginning to change in countries where women have gained more participation in the labour force and have the right to access contraception and abortion.​


The continuation of international policies to promote gender equality.

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