Experiences of peripartum depressive symptoms among Chinese middle-class migrant women in the Netherlands: a qualitative study of migrant motherhood

Haiyue Shan, Sawitri Saharso, Jens Henrichs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: A low educational level and poor economic status have repeatedly been identified as the main risk factors of peripartum depression among migrant women in existing studies. However, there is limited knowledge about a group of highly educated and middle-class migrant women, and how this group of migrant women deals with those risks and which protective factors facilitate a successful transition into motherhood in the host country. This study aims to shed light on the multifaceted psychosocial challenges during the peripartum period for Chinese migrant women in their relationships with intimate partners, mothers, and mothers-in-law. Methods: In this qualitative study, semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted digitally with 46 pregnant and postpartum middle-class Chinese migrant women with peripartum depressive symptoms in the Netherlands. The interview data were analyzed using content analysis. Results: The multifaceted psychosocial challenges for women with peripartum depressive symptoms were classified into three key categories: the ambivalence towards different mothering values, perceived inadequate and mismatching social support and adverse childhood experiences. Conclusion: Well-educated middle-class Chinese migrant women with peripartum depressive symptoms faced challenges in the transition into motherhood due to the unmet self-expectations regarding the pursuit of a good quality of life and a happy motherhood. The nurturing intimate relationships and adequate social support in the host country have mitigated recollections of their adverse childhood experiences. Future prevention programs and postpartum care should consider the contextual specificity based on the childhood history. International mental health research should pay more attention to the growing and potentially vulnerable group of well-educated middle-class migrant women.
Original languageEnglish
Article number638
JournalBMC pregnancy and childbirth
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2023


  • Healthy intimate relationships
  • Navigating migrant motherhood
  • Peripartum depressive symptoms

Cite this