March Research Update

March Research Update

Hyperarousal symptoms after traumatic and nontraumatic births 

Ayers, S., Wright, D., & Ford, E

Background: Measurement is critical in postnatal posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) because symptoms may be influenced by normal postnatal phenomena such as physiological changes and fatigue. Objective: This study examined: (1) whether hyperarousal symptoms differ between women who have traumatic or nontraumatic births; (2) whether the construct of hyperarousal is coherent in postnatal women; and (3) whether hyperarousal symptoms are useful for identifying women who have traumatic births or PTSD. Methods: A survey of PTSD symptoms in 1,078 women recruited via the community or Internet who completed an online or paper questionnaire measuring childbirth-related PTSD symptoms between 1 and 36 months after birth. Women who had a traumatic birth as defined by DSM-IV criterion A (n = 458) were compared with women who did not have a traumatic birth (n = 591). Results: A one-factor dimension of hyperarousal was identified that included all five hyperarousal items. Diagnostic criteria of two or more hyperarousal symptoms in the previous week were reported by 75.3% of women with traumatic birth and 50.5% of women with nontraumatic births. The difference in mean hyperarousal symptoms between groups was substantial at 0.76 of a standard deviation (Hedge’s g, CI = 0.64, 0.89). A larger difference was observed between women with and without diagnostic PTSD (g = 1.64, CI 1.46, 1.81). However, receiver operating characteristic analyses showed hyperarousal symptoms have poor specificity and alternative ways of calculating symptoms did not improve this. Comparison with other PTSD symptoms found re-experiencing symptoms were most accurate at identifying women with traumatic births. Conclusions: Results suggest hyperarousal symptoms are associated with traumatic birth and are a coherent construct in postnatal women. However, they have poor specificity and should only be used as part of diagnostic criteria, not as a sole indicator.

Cognitive Predictors and Risk Factors of PTSD Following Stillbirth: A Short-Term Longitudinal Study.

Horsch, A., Jacobs, I., McKenzie-McHarg, K.


This short-term longitudinal study investigated cognitive predictors and risk factors of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in mothers followingstillbirth. After a stillbirth at ≥ 24 weeks gestational age, 65 women completed structured clinical interviews and questionnaires assessing PTSDsymptoms, cognitive predictors (appraisals, dysfunctional strategies), and risk factors (perceived social support, trauma history, obstetric history) at 3 and 6 months. PTSD symptoms decreased between 3 and 6 months (Cohen’s d ranged .34-.52). Regression analyses also revealed a specific positive relationship between Rumination and concurrent frequency of PTSD symptoms (β = .45). Negative Self-View and Negative World-View related positively and Self-Blame related negatively to concurrent number of PTSD symptoms (β = .48, .44, -.45, respectively). Suppression and Distraction predicted a decrease and Numbing predicted an increase in time-lagged number of PTSD symptoms (β = -.33, -.28, .30, respectively). Risk factors for PTSD symptoms were younger age (β = -.25), lower income (β = -.29), fewer previous pregnancies (β = -.31), and poorer perceived social support (β = -.26). Interventions addressing negative appraisals, dysfunctional strategies, and social support are recommended for mothers with PTSD following stillbirth. Knowledge of cognitive predictors and risk factors of PTSD may inform the development of a screening instrument.

The influence of childbirth experiences on women׳s postpartum traumatic stress symptoms: A comparison between Israeli Jewish and Arab women

Halperin, O., Sarid, O., Cwokel, J.


Childbirth is a positive experience for most women yet some women express distress after birth. Traumatic experience can sometimes cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in relation to childbirth. Prevalence of traumatic birth experience and PTSD after childbirth differs between cultures.


To examine the subjective recall of childbirth experiences and PTSD symptoms of Israeli Jewish and Arab women; to examine comparatively the prevalence of PTSD symptoms six to eight weeks after childbirth and to establish the factors that predict PTSD symptoms.


A prospective study was conducted in a region characterised by wide variations in ethnocultural groups. The study was comprised of two time points: Time 1 (T1) interviews were conducted at the bedside of the women in the maternity ward of each hospital 24–48 hours after childbirth. Time 2 (T2), all 171 women participating in T1 were interviewed by phone six to eight weeks after childbirth.


34 women (19.9%) reported their labour as traumatic 24–48 hours after birth (T1), and six to eight weeks later (T2) 67 women (39.2%) assessed their experience as traumatic. More Arab women (69.6%) than Jewish women (56.5%) had a positive memory of childbirth, but this difference only approached statistical significance (p=.09). Results showed rather low frequencies of PTSD symptoms, and no ethnic difference. PTSD symptoms were significantly and positively predicted by subjective recollection of childbirth experience (Time 2). PTSD symptoms were higher for women who did not have a vaginal birth, and more women with PTSD symptoms were not breast feeding.


We found more similarities than differences between Arab and Jewish women׳s experience of their births and no differences between them on the prevalence of PTSD symptoms after birth. The results suggest that non-vaginal birth (instrumental or caesarean section) and negative recollection of the childbirth experience are important factors related to the development of PTSD symptoms after birth, and that women with PTSD symptoms are less likely to breast feed.

Post-traumatic stress disorder managed successfully with hypnosis and the rewind technique: two cases in obstetric patients

P.M. Slater


Two obstetric patients presenting with post-traumatic stress disorder in the antenatal period are discussed. The first patient had previously had an unexpected stillborn delivered by emergency caesarean section under general anaesthesia. She developed post-traumatic stress disorder and presented for repeat caesarean section in her subsequent pregnancy, suffering flashbacks and severe anxiety. Following antenatal preparation with hypnosis and a psychological method called the rewind technique, she had a repeat caesarean section under spinal anaesthesia, successfully managing her anxiety. The second patient suffered post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms after developing puerperal psychosis during the birth of her first child. Before the birth of her second child, she was taught self-hypnosis, which she used during labour in which she had an uneventful water birth. These cases illustrate the potential value of hypnosis and alternative psychological approaches in managing women with severe antenatal anxiety.


Traumatic Birth and Postnatal Nursing Approaches: A Case Study

Gözde Gökçe İsbir* & Figen İnci

It is now recognized that a proportion of women may perceive birth as stressful and traumatic. Traumatic birth experience occurs when a woman perceives an actual threat to her own life or her baby during delivery. This article aims to enhance nurses’ understanding in order to deal with woman and her family members who witnessed the birth especially in the post-natal nursing follow-up. This article critically discusses the nursing care and management of people who have traumatic birth experience. A prospective case study design was used to follow one woman who has traumatic birth experience and her family. It followed up pregnancy, postnatal 1st day, 3th day, 3th months, 6th months and 10th months. In addition, it is presented information about the consulting model based on cognitive behavioural therapy model has used as a nursing approach at the traumatic birth experience