The Experience of Happiness among Chinese Postpartum Mothers


Postpartum maternal happiness, an indicator of quality of life that may decrease the effects of negative emotions such as postpartum depression, is not well studied. The purpose of this analysis was to explore how postpartum mothers experience happiness. Data were part of two cross-sectional studies with snowball sampling designed to understand health status of Chinese postpartum mothers. Forty-eight and 151 Chinese mothers within 1-year postpartum in the United States and Taiwan, respectively, answered an open-ended question about the happiest events they experienced during the postpartum period. Qualitative data were analyzed by bracketing contexts to meaning units, aggregating meaning units into themes, and deriving a thematic structure that fitted all themes. Interconnectedness and fulfillment were identified as describing postpartum maternal happiness. Existence of the baby, interaction with the baby, connecting everybody in the family, and integration of the baby into the family were the categories of interconnectedness whereas extension of mother’s life, achievement, and being supported were the categories of fulfillment. The center of the postpartum mother’s life was the baby and the baby, as well as activities associated with the baby, was the main source of mothers’ happiness. Family support and achievement of various expectations, including continuation of the family name, also contributed to maternal happiness. Helping new mothers to understand both positive and negative emotions may encourage further discussion about areas in which mothers are feeling particularly challenged. Interventions such as cognitive counseling that stresses positive emotions may be used to assist new mothers find a healthy balance of emotions, especially cope with depression or feelings of sadness.

Share and Cite:

Cheng, C. , Pickler, R. , Chu, T. & Chou, Y. (2014). The Experience of Happiness among Chinese Postpartum Mothers. Psychology, 5, 485-490. doi: 10.4236/psych.2014.56058.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Aston, M. L. (2002). Learning to Be a Normal Mother: Empowerment and Pedagogy in Postpartum Classes. Public Health Nursing, 19, 284-293.
[2] Ballas, D., & Dorling, D. (2007). Measuring the Impact of Major Life Events upon Happiness. International Journal of Epidemiology, 36, 1244-1252.
[3] Barak, Y. (2006). The Immune System and Happiness. Autoimmunity Review, 5, 523-527.
[4] Blake, S. M., Kiely, M., Gard, C. C., El-Mohandes, A. A. E., El-Khorazaty, M. N., & NIH-DC Initiative (2007). Pregnancy Intentions and Happiness among Pregnant Black Women at High Risk for Adverse Infant Health Outcomes. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 39, 194-205.
[5] Brouse, A. J. (1988). Easing the Transition to the Maternal Role. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 1, 167-172.
[6] Cheng, C. Y., Walker, L. O., & Chu, T. P. (2013). Physical Conditions and Depressive Symptoms of Chinese Postpartum Mothers in the United States and Taiwan. Health Care for Women International, 34, 539-555.
[7] Cheng, C. Y., & Pickler, R. (2009). Effects of Stress and Social Support on Postpartum Health of Chinese Mothers in the United States. Research in Nursing and Health, 32, 582-591.
[8] Clark, A., Skouteris, H., Wertheim, E. H., Paxton, S. J., & Milgrom, J. (2009). My Baby Body: A Qualitative Insight into Women’s Body-Related Experiences and Mood during Pregnancy and the Postpartum. Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology, 27, 330-345.
[9] Fowles, E. R. (1998). The Relationship between Maternal Role Attainment and Postpartum Depression. Health Care for Women International, 19, 83-94.
[10] Giorgi, A. (1997). The Theory, Practice, and Evaluation of the Phenomenological Method as a Qualitative Research Procedure. Journal of Phenomenological Psychology, 28, 235-260.
[11] Jordan, K., Capdevila, R., & Johnson, S. (2005). Baby or Beauty: A Q Study into Post Pregnancy Body Image. Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology, 23, 19-31.
[12] Lu, L. (2001). Understanding Happiness: A Look into the Chinese Folk Psychology. Journal of Happiness Studies, 2, 407-432.
[13] Lu, L., & Gilmour, R. (2004). Culture and conceptions of happiness: individual oriented and social oriented SWB. J Happiness Stud. 5, 269-291.
[14] Martell, L. K. (2001). Heading toward the New Normal: A Contemporary Postpartum Experience. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing: JOGNN, 30, 496-506.
[15] McGill, H., Burrow, V. L., Holland, L. A., Langer, H. J., & Sweet, M. A. (1995). Postnatal Depression: A Christchurch Study. The New Zealand Medical Journal, 108, 162-165.
[16] Mercer, R. T. (1986). First-Time Motherhood. New York: Springer Publishing.
[17] Mercer, R. T. (2004). Becoming a Mother versus Maternal Role Attainment. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 36, 226-232.
[18] Nicolson, P. (1999). Loss, Happiness, and Postpartum Depression: The Ultimate Paradox. Canadian Psychology, 40, 162-178.
[19] Pollio, H. R., Henley, T. B., & Thompson, C. J. (1997). The Phenomenology of Everyday Life. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
[20] Soares, M. J., Marques, M., Pereira, A. T., Maia, B., Bos, S., Valente, J., Macedo, A., et al. (2013). The Correlates of Positive Affect in Pregnancy and Postpartum. European Psychiatry, 28, 1.
[21] Veenhoven, R. (2000). The Four Qualities of Life: Ordering Concepts and Measures of the Good Life. Journal of Happiness Studies, 1, 1-39.

Copyright © 2022 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.