Childbirth and the development of acute trauma symptoms : incidence and contributing factors

Creedy , Debra K. , Shochet, Ian M., & Horsfall, Jan (2000) Childbirth and the development of acute trauma symptoms : incidence and contributing factors. Birth, 27(2), pp. 104-111.

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Background: Little is known about the relationship between women's birthing experiences and the development of trauma symptoms. This study aimed to determine the incidence of acute trauma symptoms and posttraumatic stress disorder in women as a result of their labor and birth experiences, and to identify factors that contributed to the women's psychological distress.

Method: Using a prospective, longitudinal design, women in their last trimester of pregnancy were recruited from four public hospital antenatal clinics. Telephone interviews with 499 participants were conducted at 4 to 6 weeks postpartum to explore the medical and midwifery management of the birth, perceptions of intrapartum care, and the presence of trauma symptoms.

Results: One in three women (33%) identified a traumatic birthing event and reported the presence of at least three trauma symptoms. Twenty-eight women (5.6%) met DSM-IV criteria for acute posttraumatic stress disorder. Antenatal variables did not contribute to the development of acute or chronic trauma symptoms. The level of obstetric intervention experienced during childbirth (β= 0.351, p < 0.0001)and the perception of inadequate intrapartum care (β= 0.319, p < 0.0001) during labor were consistently associated with the development of acute trauma symptoms.

Conclusions: Posttraumatic stress disorder after childbirth is a poorly recognized phenomenon. Women who experienced both a high level of obstetric intervention and dissatisfaction with their intrapartum care were more likely to develop trauma symptoms than women who received a high level of obstetric intervention or women who perceived their care to be inadequate. These findings should prompt a serious review of intrusive obstetric intervention during labor and delivery, and the care provided to birthing women.

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238 citations in Web of Science®
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ID Code: 48846
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
DOI: 10.1046/j.1523-536x.2000.00104.x
ISSN: 0730-7659
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES (170000) > PSYCHOLOGY (170100)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Psychology & Counselling
Deposited On: 23 May 2012 23:54
Last Modified: 23 May 2012 23:54

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