Front. Psychiatry. 31 July 2018. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00348
Objective: To analyze the predictive value of antepartum vulnerability factors, such as social support, coping, history of psychiatric disease, and fear of childbirth, and intrapartum events on the development of symptoms of postpartum posttraumatic stress disorder (PP-PTSD) in women with a traumatic childbirth experience.
Materials and methods: Women with at least one self-reported traumatic childbirth experience in or after 2005 were invited to participate through various social media platforms in March 2016. They completed a 35-item questionnaire including validated screening instruments for PTSD (PTSD Symptom Checklist, PCL-5), social support (Oslo social support scale, OSS-3), and coping (Antonovsky’s sense of coherence scale, SoC).
Results: Of the 1,599 women who completed the questionnaire, 17.4% met the diagnostic criteria for current PTSD according to the DSM-5, and another 26.0% recognized the symptoms from a previous period, related to giving birth. Twenty-six percent of the participating women had received one or more psychiatric diagnoses at some point in their life, and five percent of all women had been diagnosed with PTSD prior to their traumatic childbirth experience. Women with poor (OR = 15.320, CI = 8.001–29.336), or moderate (OR = 3.208, CI = 1.625–6.333) coping skills were more likely to report PP-PTSD symptoms than women with good coping skills. Low social support was significantly predictive for current PP-PTSD symptoms compared to high social support (OR = 5.557, CI = 2.967–7.785). A predictive model which could differentiate between women fulfilling vs. not fulfilling the symptom criteria for PTSD had a sensitivity of 80.8% and specificity of 62.6% with an accuracy of 66.5%.
Conclusions: Low social support, poor coping, experiencing “threatened death” and experiencing “actual or threatened injury to the baby” were the four significant factors in the predictive model for women with a traumatic childbirth experience to be at risk of developing PP-PTSD. Further research should investigate the effects of interventions aimed at the prevention of PP-PTSD by strengthening coping skills and increasing social support, especially in women at increased risk of unfavorable obstetrical outcomes.
J Health Psychol. 2018 Jul 1. doi: 10.1177/1359105318787018.
This longitudinal study evaluated the mediating role of sense of control during labour in the association between anxiety and depression levels during pregnancy and postpartum posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms. Participants were 57 women. Anxiety and depression were assessed during pregnancy; sense of control and childbirth-related posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms were collected 6-8 weeks after childbirth. Higher levels of anxiety and depression were associated with more postpartum posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms through lack of perceived control. For depression, this happened only for primiparous. Interventions targeting mechanisms enhancing perceptions/feelings of control should be offered to these women to prevent/minimize childbirth-related posttraumatic stress disorder.
[Article in German; Abstract available in German from the publisher]
Z Geburtshilfe Neonatol. 2018 Jul 9. doi: 10.1055/a-0641-6584.
A history of sexual as well as physical or emotional abuse may represent a high-risk factor for difficult pregnancies and birth processes, potentially yielding the development of postpartum posttraumatic stress disorder as well as impaired mother-child attachment. However, birth itself may also be experienced as primarily traumatic, i. e., without having had prior trauma experiences. Difficult and traumatic births may affect midwives and obstetricians, too. This article provides an overview of the prevalence and risk factors of traumatic childbirth as well as the course, consequences, and intervention possibilities.
Clin Psychol Rev. 2018 Jun 9. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2018.06.004.
Women with psychiatric disorders during pregnancy and the postpartum period (i.e., perinatal period) are at increased risk for adverse maternal and child outcomes. Effective treatment of psychiatric disorders during the perinatal period is imperative. This review summarizes the outcomes of 78 studies focused on the treatment of depression, anxiety, and trauma-related disorders during the perinatal period. The majority of studies focused on perinatal depression (n = 73). Of the five studies focused on anxiety or trauma-related disorders, only one was a randomized controlled trial (RCT). The most studied treatment was cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT; n = 22), followed by interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT; n = 13). Other interventions reviewed include other talk therapies (n = 5), collaborative care models (n = 2), complementary and alternative medicine approaches (n = 18), light therapy (n = 3), brain stimulation (n = 2), and psychopharmacological interventions (n = 13). Eleven studies focused specifically on treatment for low-income and/or minority women. Both CBT and IPT demonstrated a significant benefit over control conditions. However, findings were mixed when these interventions were examined in low-income and/or minority samples. There is some support for complementary and alternative medicine approaches (e.g., exercise). Although scarce, SSRIs demonstrated good efficacy when compared to a placebo. However, SSRIs did not outperform another active treatment condition (e.g., CBT). There is a tremendous need for more studies focused on treatment of perinatal anxiety and trauma-related disorders, as well as psychopharmacological effectiveness studies. Limitations and future directions of perinatal treatment research, particularly among low-income and/or minority populations, are discussed.
Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2018 May 16. doi: 10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2018.02.003.
Objectives: Pregnancy loss (PL) can be a very difficult experience. However, the evidence regarding the prevalence and correlates of psychopathology following PL is inconsistent at best. The present study aimed to assess the prevalence of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) following PL, and their differential predictors.
Methods: Participants were 97 women, ages 23-47, who have experienced PL starting from the 2nd trimester. They were recruited at the Hadassah Ein-Kerem Medical Center in Jerusalem, Israel. The mean pregnancy week of loss was 27.92. Participants completed self-report questionnaires assessing PTSD (PCL-5), MDD (BDI-II), sociodemographic variables and factors related to the loss.
Results: We have found high rates of probable PTSD (33.3%) and MDD (29.4%) among our sample, as well as high PTSD-MDD comorbidity. A more advanced gestational week of loss and shorter time since PL were positively associated with both PTSD and MDD. Younger age and lower religiosity were associated with more severe PTSD, but not MDD.
Conclusions: PL is a potentially-traumatic experience, entailing a heavy burden of PTSD and MDD. Mental health professionals are encouraged to closely monitor women following PL, particularly young mothers, who have experienced PL more recently, and at the advanced stages of pregnancy.
[Article in French]
Gynecol Obstet Fertil Senol. 2018 Jun 19. doi: 10.1016/j.gofs.2018.06.002.
Objectives: This study aims to determine the incidence of pain in childbirth and postpartum on depressive and post-traumatic symptomatology 6weeks after delivery.
Methods: One hundred and nine women who gave birth in maternity hospitals of type 2$participated in the study. Two to four days after delivery they have completed five self-administered questionnaires to assess pain of childbirth (QDSA), dramatization of pain (PCS-CF), satisfaction of childbirth (CEQ), peri-traumatic distress (IDP) and depressive symptoms (EPDS) and visual analogue scales to measure immediate postnatal pain. Six weeks after birth they have again completed questionnaires to measure pain (QDSA and visual analogue scales) and depressive symptoms (EPDS) and a scale measuring posttraumatic symptomatology (IES-R).
Results: The pain of childbirth and immediate postpartum was associated with depressive (r=0.27 and r=0.31 respectively) and traumatic symptomatology (r=0.30 and r=0.34 respectively) in postpartum. Regression analysis, however, revealed that only the depressive symptomatology and the affective dimension of postpartum pain at six weeks post-partum was related to post-traumatic stress.
Conclusion: The results of this study highlight the importance to support the pain of childbirth but also the pain occurring in the postpartum period.
J Affect Disord. 2018 Oct 1. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2018.05.044.
Background: Perinatal depression is reported in 15-20% of women (Marcus, 2009), 8-16% of men (Paulson and Bazemore, 2010) and low-SES, diverse populations are particularly at risk (Sareen, 2011). Trauma symptoms are commonly comorbid with depression, especially when individuals are exposed to risk factors such as community violence and poverty (Kastello et al., 2015; WenzGross et al., 2016). Parental mental illness places infants at risk for negative outcomes (Junge et al., 2016). Evidence supports that dispositional mindfulness is linked to mental health in many populations, however, a gap lies in the understanding of the relationship between mindfulness, trauma and depression in risk-exposed, pregnant populations, especially with fathers. We hypothesize that dispositional mindfulness is negatively associated with lower depression and trauma symptoms in pregnancy, in mothers and fathers.
Methods: Dispositional mindfulness, depressive and trauma symptoms were examined in women and men, exposed to adversity who were expecting a baby (N = 102). Independent t-tests, and bivariate correlations examined the relationships between these variables. Hierarchical regression was utilized to understand how mindfulness and trauma symptoms may contribute to antenatal depression symptoms.
Results: Significant differences were observed with mindfulness and depressive symptoms, with no differences reported across gender. Mindfulness, depressive and trauma symptoms were associated in the expected directions. Total mindfulness, specifically being non-reactive to one’s own thoughts and trauma symptoms predicted depressive symptoms.
Limitations: Limitations include small sample size, cross-sectional data and self-report measures.
Conclusion: Mindfulness and trauma symptoms were found to be significant predictors of depressive symptoms in parents-to-be. Those with lower mindfulness exhibited higher levels of depression. These findings may be helpful in disseminated mindfulness-based interventions aimed at treating antenatal depression in both expectant mothers and fathers who are exposed to adversity. Further research is necessary to understand the mechanisms of mindfulness in risk-exposed, expectant parents.
Examining the impact of trauma-informed cognitive behavioral therapy on perinatal mental health outcomes among survivors of intimate partner violence (the path study): protocol for a feasibility study.
JMIR Res Protoc. 2018 May 25. doi: 10.2196/resprot.9820.
Background: Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a pervasive public health problem, impacting the health and quality of life of survivors worldwide. The trauma of IPV is associated with a high incidence of mental illness, namely depressive and anxiety disorders, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Moreover, literature endorses cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) interventions as a gold standard for those with symptomatology consistent with anxiety disorders, mood disorders, and PTSD. However, efficacy has not been evaluated among a population of pregnant survivors of IPV.
Objective: We present the protocol that will be used to explore the efficacy of trauma-informed cognitive behavioral therapy on maternal and child health outcomes for pregnant women with PTSD, depression, or anxiety symptomatology resulting from IPV. A secondary aim will be to test the validity and feasibility of study methodology to support the successful implementation of a full-scale randomized controlled trial.
Methods: The Promoting Attachment Through Healing (PATH) study will use a mixed-methods approach grounded in an intersectional feminist framework to explore the effectiveness of trauma-informed CBT for pregnant survivors of IPV. Study participants will be recruited through the hospital-based Perinatal Mental Health Clinic (London, Ontario, Canada). A feasibility sample of 20 pregnant women (cohort 1) will be selected to engage in an eight-session antenatal CBT intervention facilitated by the program’s perinatal clinical nurse specialist, with evaluation at baseline, at two months postpartum(intervention and online questionnaire), and at six and twelve months postpartum (online questionnaire only). Concurrently, we will conduct a retrospective audit of 100 medical charts (cohort 2; 50 charts of perinatal women who received CBT and 50 charts of women who did not receive perinatal CBT) from the past five years. The efficacy of the intervention will be based on a reduction of mental illness symptomatology, improved maternal-infant attachment, maternal coping, and maternal quality of life. Additionally, the feasibility of the protocol and acceptability of the intervention from the women’s perspective will be examined. Inductive content analysis of all qualitative data will be used to determine common themes. Additionally, descriptive statistics, including measures of central tendency and dispersion, will be computed for all continuous variables. Alternatively, frequency tables will be constructed for all categorical variables.
Results: The work reported here is in the proposal phase. Once the protocol is implemented, we will report the results in a follow-up paper. Participant recruitment for cohort 1 has started and we have finished data collection for cohort 2. It is anticipated that the results will be available by the end of 2018.
Conclusions: Findings will assess the acceptability of the study methodology and protocol for a full-scale randomized controlled trial. Furthermore, if CBT is proven effective for pregnant survivors of IPV, this intervention could be readily adopted by health care and social support services, thereby contributing to an improved standard of care for this unique population.
Few studies examined maternal attachment in childbirth-related postpartum posttraumatic stress disorder (PP-PTSD). We studied 685 postpartum women, assessing for PP-PTSD, non-childbirth PTSD, maternal attachment, pre-birth, birth, and post-birth factors. Attachment was lower in PP-PTSD than in non-childbirth PTSD and no PP-PTSD. Hierarchical regression showed that PP-PTSD predicted less maternal attachment above and beyond pre-birth psychiatric conditions, acute distress in birth, and lack of breastfeeding. Childbirth-induced posttraumatic stress may interfere with the formation of maternal attachment, warranting screening of at-risk women.
Women Birth. 2018 May 11. doi: 10.1016/j.wombi.2018.04.003.
Background: Relatively little is known about the extent of trauma and birth-related fear in midwives and how this might affect practice.
Aim: (1) Determine prevalence of birth related trauma and fear in midwives and associations with midwives’ confidence to advise women during pregnancy of their birth options and to provide care in labour. (2) Describe midwives’ experiences of birth related trauma and/or fear.
Method: A mixed methods design. A convenience sample of midwives (n=249) completed an anonymous online survey. Descriptive and inferential statistics were used to analyse the quantitative data. Latent content analysis was used to extrapolate meaning from the 170 midwives who wrote about their experiences of personal and/or professional trauma.
Results: The majority of midwives (93.6%) reported professional (n=199, 85.4%) and/or personal (n=97, 41.6%) traumatic birth experiences. Eight percent (n=20) reported being highly fearful of birth. Trauma was not associated with practice concerns but fear was. Midwives categorised as having ‘high fear’ reported more practice concerns (Med 23.5, n=20) than midwives with ‘low fear’ (Med 8, n=212) (U=1396, z=-3.79, p<0.001, r=0.24). Reasons for personal trauma included experiencing assault, intervention and stillbirth. Professional trauma related to both witnessing and experiencing disrespectful care and subsequently feeling complicit in the provision of poor care. Feeling unsupported in the workplace and fearing litigation intensified trauma.
Conclusion: High fear was associated with lower confidence to support childbearing women. Fear and trauma in midwives warrants further investigation to better understand the impact on professional practice.
Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2018 Jun 225. doi: 10.1016/j.ejogrb.2018.04.012.
In some cases childbirth leads to negative psychological responses such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Postpartum hemorrhage (PPH) is a common and major complication of childbirth, which occasionally requires emergency hysterectomy in severe cases. Patients often describe these complications as a traumatic experience. It is unknown whether PPH is a risk factor for developing PTSD. In this systematic review we summarize the current knowledge about the association between PPH with or without emergency hysterectomy and posttraumatic stress symptoms or PTSD. If PPH is a risk factor for PTSD, this will allow adequate preventive measures with the aim to reduce the long-term effects and socioeconomic problems associated with PTSD. To conduct this review MEDLINE, EMBASE, Web of Science, ClinicalTrials.gov, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Cochrane Library and PsycINFO databases were searched for publications between January 1986 and October 2017. Manuscripts evaluating the association between PPH and peripartum emergency hysterectomy and PTSD or posttraumatic stress symptoms were included. Fifty-two articles met the criteria for full-text review. Seven articles were included in this review. Five studies focused on the association between PPH and PTSD and two studies evaluated the association between emergency hysterectomy and PTSD. Three studies found no association between PPH and PTSD. Two studies reported a higher risk of developing PTSD or posttraumatic stress symptoms after PPH. Two studies reported a higher risk of developing PTSD after emergency hysterectomy. Meta-analysis was not possible due to the heterogeneity of these studies. Based on the results of these studies there may be an association between PPH and PTSD. Secondly, it seems likely that an association exists between emergency postpartum hysterectomy and PTSD, but the strength of this conclusion is limited by the small amount of studies included.
Eur J Paediatr Neurol. 2018 Apr 12. doi: 10.1016/j.ejpn.2018.04.004.
Background: Maternal trauma complicates pregnancy in approximately 7%. Long-term development of children exposed to maternal trauma is unknown.
Aim: To determine neurobehavioural outcome of children (6-18 years) born after maternal trauma in pregnancy compared to a matched control group.
Study design: Case-control study performed at a tertiary medical centre.
Subjects: All consecutive children born after maternal hospitalization for trauma during pregnancy between 1995 and 2005. Controls were children born at the same hospital and period after an uneventful pregnancy.
Outcome measures: Trauma type and severity (Injury Severity Score, ≥9: severe); information from medical files at admission (cases). All mothers filled out two questionnaires about the infant; 1. concerning health, motor development and educational level, 2. concerning behavioural development through the validated Dutch version of the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL).
Results: Questionnaires were returned by 34 cases and 28 controls. The traumas concerned mainly motor vehicle accidents and falls, and 3/34 had severe injuries. No differences in health, motor development, educational level and CBCL was found between the cases and controls, except for more hospitalization in the cases (p = 0.009).
Conclusion: Long-term follow-up of a limited population of children 6-18 years after exposure of mainly non-severe trauma before birth is similar to a control population except for unexplained more hospitalization in the cases.
Clinics (Sao Paulo). 2018;73:e309. doi: 10.6061/clinics/2018/e309.
Objective: To evaluate the occurrence of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder among women experiencing a severe maternal morbidity event and associated factors in comparison with those without maternal morbidity.
Methods: In a retrospective cohort study, 803 women with or without severe maternal morbidity were evaluated at 6 months to 5 years postpartum for the presence of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Interviews were conducted by telephone and electronic data was stored. Data analysis was carried out by using χ2, Fisher’s Exact test, and logistic regression analysis.
Results: There was no significant change in the prevalence of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder related to a previous severe maternal morbidity experience. There were also no differences in diagnostic criteria for severe maternal morbidity (hypertensive syndromes, hemorrhage, surgical intervention or intensive care unit admission required, among other management criteria). Low parity (2.5-fold risk) and increasing age were factors associated with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Conclusions: A severe maternal morbidity episode is not associated with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms within five years of the severe maternal morbidity event and birth. However, a more advanced maternal age and primiparity increased the risk of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. This does not imply that women who had experienced a severe maternal morbidity event did not suffer or need differentiated care.
Midwifery. 2018 Jul 62. doi: 10.1016/j.midw.2018.04.002.
Background: Adverse birth outcomes such as preterm birth and low birth weight are significant public health concerns and contribute to neonatal morbidity and mortality. Studies have increasingly been exploring the predictive effects of maternal posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) on adverse birth outcomes. However, the biological mechanisms by which maternal PTSD affects birth outcomes are not well understood. Allostatic load refers to the cumulative dysregulations of the multiple physiological systems as a response to multiple social-ecological levels of chronic stress. Allostatic load has been well documented in relation to both chronic stress and adverse health outcomes in non-pregnant populations. However, the mediating role of allostatic load is less understood when it comes to maternal PTSD and adverse birth outcomes.
Objective: To propose a theoretical model that depicts how allostatic load could mediate the impact of maternal PTSD on birth outcomes.
Method: We followed the procedures for theory synthesis approach described by Walker and Avant (2011), including specifying focal concepts, identifying related factors and relationships, and constructing an integrated representation. We first present a theoretical overview of the allostatic load theory and the other 4 relevant theoretical models. Then we provide a brief narrative review of literature that empirically supports the propositions of the integrated model. Finally, we describe our theoretical model.
Findings/conclusions: The theoretical model synthesized has the potential to advance perinatal research by delineating multiple biomarkers to be used in future. After it is well validated, it could be utilized as the theoretical basis for health care professionals to identify high-risk women by evaluating their experiences of psychosocial and traumatic stress and to develop and evaluate service delivery and clinical interventions that might modify maternal perceptions or experiences of stress and eliminate their impacts on adverse birth outcomes.
Clin J Pain. 2018 Apr 25. doi: 10.1097/AJP.0000000000000620.
Objectives: The birth of a preterm infant and witnessing ones’ infant in pain is remembered by parents as being one of the most stressful aspects of the neonatal care intensive unit (NICU). Elevated symptoms of posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) are highly prevalent among mothers of preterm infants, however, little is known about mothers’ memories of invasive procedures in the NICU and how these memories may contribute to the development of PTSS. We examined the relationships between number of invasive procedures, mothers’ memories of these procedures, and their PTSS at discharge from the NICU.
Methods: Participants included thirty-six mothers of infants born <37 weeks gestational age recruited from a tertiary-level NICU. Medical chart review was performed between birth and discharge from the NICU. At discharge, a research nurse conducted a structured memory interview with the mothers that assessed their memories of their infants’ invasive procedures. Mothers also completed a self-report measure of PTSS (PTSD Checklist for the DSM-5).
Results: Mothers of infants exposed to greater numbers of invasive procedures had more elevated PTSS at discharge (R=0.37). Moreover, mothers who recalled having greater anxiety about their infant’s invasive procedures had greater symptoms of re-experiencing (R=0.34) and avoidance (R=0.28) at discharge from the NICU.
Discussion: Greater neonatal exposure to invasive procedures and mothers’ recall of these procedures were related to mothers’ posttraumatic stress symptomatology at discharge. Invasive procedures in the NICU represent an important target area for neonatal intervention to reduce maternal distress and improve outcomes.
Am J Perinatol. 2018 Apr 18. doi: 10.1055/s-0038-1641591.
Objective: The objective of this study was to assess the presence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms in parental couples of newborn requiring early surgery at 6 and 12 months after birth.
Study design: A longitudinal study was set up from January 2014 to June 2015. As a measure of PTSD, we used the Italian version of the Impact of Event Scale-Revised (IES-R).
Results: Thirty-four couples form the object of the study. At 6 months, half of mothers (52.9%) and fathers (44.1%) reported traumatic stress symptoms above the clinical cutoff. Percentages remained stable at 12 months. When parental gender and length of follow-up were compared with two-factor analysis of variance, none had an impact on IES-R score, nor an interaction between these factors was found. A significant correlation of IES-R total score was present within the couple both at 6 and 12 months (6 months-r: 0.6842, p < 0.0001 and 12 months-r: 0.4045, p = 0.0177).
Conclusion: Having a child with a repaired malformation represents a complex prolonged stressful situation with persistent burden for both parents who are at high risk of developing PTSD symptoms.
J Affect Disord. 2018 Jul 234. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2018.02.067.
Background: Little is known about the impact of prenatal maternal stress (PNMS) on the developmental trajectory of temperament and few studies have been able to incorporate a natural disaster as a quasi-experimental stressor. The current study investigated PNMS related to Superstorm Sandy (‘Sandy’), a hurricane that struck the New York metropolitan area in October 2012, in terms of objective exposure during pregnancy, subjective stress reaction as assessed by maternal symptoms of post-traumatic stress, and their impact on the developmental changes in temperament during early childhood.
Method: A subsample of 318 mother-child dyads was drawn from the Stress in Pregnancy Study. Temperament was measured at 6, 12, 18, and 24 months of age.
Results: Objective exposure was associated with greater High-Intensity Pleasure, Approach, Perceptual Sensitivity and Fearfulness, but lower Cuddliness and Duration of Orientation at 6 months. Objective exposure and its interaction with subjective stress reaction predicted developmental changes in temperament. In particular, objective exposure was linked to greater increases in Activity Level but decreases in High-Intensity Pleasure, Approach, and Fearfulness. The combination of objective exposure and subjective stress reaction was also associated with greater increases in Activity Level.
Limitations: Temperament was measured solely via maternal report. Trimester-specific effects of Sandy on temperament were not examined.
Conclusion: This is the first study to examine the effects of prenatal maternal exposure to a natural disaster on trajectories of early childhood temperament. Findings suggest that both objective stress exposure and subjective stress reaction in-utero predict developmental trajectories of temperament in early childhood.
J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. 2018 May 47. doi: 10.1016/j.jogn.2018.02.009.
Objective: To examine cognitive, emotional, and perceptual differences in the childbirth narratives of women with high levels of posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) compared with women with low levels of PTSS in the postpartum period.
Design: A cross-sectional design. Participants were retrospectively assigned to the high or low PTSS group on the basis of their scores on the Perinatal Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Questionnaire (PPQ) administered at 1 week and 3 months after childbirth.
Setting: Participants’ homes and Internet survey.
Participants: Twenty-five women were included in the high PTSS group (PPQ score ≥ 12), and 25 were included in the low PTSS group (PPQ score ≤ 1).
Methods: Participants completed the PPQ and a writing task about the birth experience 1 week after birth and completed an online version of the PPQ 3 months after birth. Characteristics of the narratives were analyzed and compared between the two groups using the Linguistic Inquiry Word Count.
Results: Compared with participants with low levels of PTSS, participants with high levels of PTSS reported more negative emotions, including horrific images connected to labor and birth and fewer positive emotions. Participants with high levels of PTSS used more sensory and perceptual terms (tactile, visual, and auditory). In contrast, women with low levels of PTSS described more active participation during birth and used more future tense verbs.
Conclusion: Our findings suggest the aspects that are involved in the development and maintenance of PTSS after birth and may be considered for use in clinical practice to improve quality of care and women’s health during the postpartum period.
Nursing. 2018 Apr 48. doi: 10.1097/01.NURSE.0000531015.55589.2f.
During the initial assessment of an infant in our pediatric clinic, the mother mentioned that
she was having flashbacks and nightmares about the birth. Are these signs of posttraumatic
stress disorder (PTSD)?
Arch Womens Ment Health. 2018 Aug 21. doi: 10.1007/s00737-018-0821-6.
To determine the prevalence, associated factors, and relationships between symptoms of depression, symptoms of posttraumatic stress (PTS), and relationship distress in mothers and fathers of very preterm (VPT) infants (< 32 weeks). Mothers (n = 323) and fathers (n = 237) completed self-report measures on demographic and outcome variables at 38 days (SD = 23.1, range 9-116) postpartum while their infants were still hospitalised. Of mothers, 46.7% had a moderate to high likelihood of depression, 38.1% had moderate to severe symptoms of PTS, and 25.1% were in higher than average relationship distress. The corresponding percentages in fathers were 16.9, 23.7, and 27%. Depression was positively associated with having previous children (p = 0.01), speaking little or no English at home (p = 0.01), financial stress (p = 0.03), and recently accessing mental health services (p = 0.003) for mothers, and financial stress (p = 0.005) and not being the primary income earner (p = 0.04) for fathers. Similar associations were found for symptoms of PTS and relationship distress. Being in higher relationship distress increased the risk of depression in both mothers (p < .001) and fathers (p = 0.03), and PTS symptoms in mothers (p = 0.001). For both mothers and fathers, depression was associated with more severe PTS symptoms (p < .001). Fathers of VPT infants should be screened for mental health problems alongside mothers, and postpartum parent support programs for VPT infants should include strategies to improve the couple relationship.
J Clin Nurs. 2018 Apr 27. doi: 10.1111/jocn.14319.
Aims and objectives: To develop insight into the experiences of mothers whose school-aged children were born extremely prematurely.
Background: Extreme prematurity, where infants are born at 28 weeks or earlier, has significant initial maternal impact in terms of distress, uncertainty and disruption to maternal identity. However, little is known about the experiences of these mothers beyond their child’s infancy.
Design: A qualitative study was undertaken using thematic analysis, drawing on a cluster of social constructionist theories that have been applied to studies investigating mothers’ early preterm or childhood disability experiences.
Methods: The study involved face-to-face interviews with nine mothers whose children were born prior to 28 weeks and were now aged between 4-to-7 years old.
Results: Participants described a prolonged period of anxiety, and relative isolation due to infection fears and complex care regimes. Although they grieved their different mothering trajectory, they celebrated their children’s successes and noted their own resilience. The following themes were identified: traumatic beginnings; dialectics and the horror-miracle contradiction; labour-intensive parenting and managing the multidisciplinary team; stigma and storying the meaning of premature birth; and impact on relationships.
Conclusions: Women’s vulnerability and resilience are evident long after the birth of an extremely prematurely born infant. Women value connection with similar mothers, and yet finding community is often daunting due to their children’s early complex needs. Generalist healthcare providers may be unaware of the experiences these mothers have endured, and need to enquire about their well-being.
Relevance to clinical practice: The lives of mothers of extremely preterm infants may take years to merge with the world of those mothers who parent healthy, term infants. Neonatal nurses and those in primary health care are well placed to notice signs of isolation, depression and anxiety, and to support and refer women appropriately.
Infant Ment Health J. 2018 Mar 39. doi: 10.1002/imhj.21695.
Despite decades of research demonstrating the role of adult attachment styles and early mother-infant bonding in parenting behaviors and maternal mental health, these constructs have seldom been studied together. The present study aimed to investigate the relationship between attachment styles and specific bonding difficulties of mothers. In addition, as postpartum depression and childbirth-related posttraumatic stress symptoms have been associated with both constructs, we explored their possible mediation effect. One hundred fourteen mothers, 4 to 12 weeks’ postpartum, completed a demographic questionnaire, the Adult Attachment Style Questionnaire (M. Mikulincer, V. Florian, & A. Tolmacz, 1990), the Postpartum Bonding Questionnaire (L.F. Brockington, C. Fraser, & D. Wilson, 2006), the Modified Perinatal Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Questionnaire (J.L. Callahan, S.E. Borja, & M.T. Hynan, 2006), and the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (J.L. Cox, G. Chapman, D. Murray, & P. Jones, 1996), using an online survey system. As predicted, insecure attachment styles were associated with bonding difficulties wherein anxious/ambivalent attachment was associated with greater infant-focused anxiety, mediated by postpartum depression but not childbirth-related PTSD symptoms. In contrast, greater avoidant attachment style was associated with greater rejection and anger, mediated by childbirth-related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but not depression symptoms. The current study confirmed the association of different attachment styles with bonding as well as the mediating roles of childbirth-related PTSD and postpartum depression symptoms. Future psychological interventions may utilize such evidence to target interventions for bonding disorders in accordance with individual differences.
Health Care Women Int. 2018 Jun 39. doi: 10.1080/07399332.2018.1442838.
A difficult birth experience can have long lasting psychological effects on both mother and baby and this study details four in-depth accounts of first time mothers who described their birth experience as traumatizing. Narrative analysis was used to record discrepancies between the ideal and the real and produced narrative accounts that highlighted how these mothers felt invisible and dismissed in a medical culture of engineering obstetrics. Participants also detailed how their birth experience could be improved and this is set in context alongside current recommendations in maternal health care and the complexities of delivering such care in UK health settings.
Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2018 Jun 97. doi: 10.1111/aogs.13291.
Introduction: Between 9 and 44% of women experience giving birth as traumatic, and 3% of women develop a post-traumatic stress disorder following childbirth. Knowledge on risk factors is abundant, but studies on treatment are limited. This study aimed to present an overview of means to prevent traumaticbirth experiences and childbirth-related post-traumatic stress disorder.
Material and methods: Major databases [Cochrane; Embase; PsycINFO; PubMed (Medline)] were searched using combinations of the key words and their synonyms.
Results: After screening titles and abstracts and reading 135 full-text articles, 13 studies were included. All evaluated secondary prevention, and none primary prevention. Interventions included debriefing, structured psychological interventions, expressive writing interventions, encouraging skin-to-skin contact with healthy newborns immediately postpartum and holding or seeing the newborn after stillbirth. The large heterogeneity of study characteristics precluded pooling of data. The writing interventions to express feelings appeared to be effective in prevention. A psychological intervention including elements of exposure and psycho-education seemed to lead to fewer post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms in women who delivered via emergency cesarean section.
Conclusions: No research has been done on primary prevention of traumatic childbirth. Research on secondary prevention of traumatic childbirth and post-traumatic stress disorder following delivery provides insufficient evidence that the described interventions are effective in unselected groups of women. In certain subgroups, results are inhomogeneous.
J Affect Disord. 2018 Mar 15. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2017.12.074.
Background: Although longitudinal trajectories of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are well-established in general trauma populations, very little is known about the trajectories of birth-related PTSD. This study aimed to identify trajectories of birth-related PTSD; determine factors associated with each trajectory; and identify women more likely to develop birth-related PTSD.
Method: 226 women who had traumatic childbirth according to DSM-IV criterion A were drawn from a community sample of 950 women. Measures were taken of PTSD, affective symptoms, fear of childbirth and social support in pregnancy, 4-6 weeks and 6-months postpartum. Information on some obstetric and psychosocial factors were also prospectively obtained.
Results: Four trajectories were identified: resilience (61.9%), recovery (18.5%), chronic-PTSD(13.7%) and delayed-PTSD (5.8%). Resilience was consistently distinguished from other PTSD trajectories by less affective symptoms at 4-6 weeks postpartum. Poor satisfaction with health professionals was associated with chronic-PTSD and delayed-PTSD. When affective symptoms at 4-6 weeks postpartum were removed from the model, less social support and higher fear of childbirth 4-6 weeks after birth predicted chronic and recovery trajectories; whereas experience of further trauma and low levels of satisfaction with health professionals were predictive of chronic-PTSD and delayed-PTSD, compared to resilience. Additional variables associated with different trajectories included antenatal affective symptoms, caesarean-section, preterm birth and receiving professional help.
Limitations: Use of self-report measures, use of DSM-IV criteria for PTSD diagnosis, and no follow-up beyond six months are the main limitations of this study.
Conclusion: Identified factors may inform preventive and treatment interventions for women with traumatic birth experiences.
Birth. 2018 Jun 45. doi: 10.1111/birt.12328.
Background: In most Western countries, breastfeeding rates are lower than what is recommended by the World Health Organization. Depression has been shown to influence breastfeeding outcomes; however, there is very little research on the role of postpartum posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This study examined to what extent maternal postpartum PTSD predicted breastfeeding initiation, exclusive breastfeeding during the first 6 months, and continuation up to 1 and 2 years.
Methods: The study is part of the large, population-based Akershus Birth Cohort. Data from the hospital’s birth record and questionnaire data from 8 weeks and 2 years postpartum were used (n = 1480). All breastfeeding variables significantly correlated with postpartum PTSD were entered into stepwise logistic regression analyses.
Results: Although most mothers (97.1%) initiated breastfeeding, considerably fewer adhered to the World Health Organization’s breastfeeding guidelines about exclusive breastfeeding during the first 6 months (13.4%) or continued breastfeeding for 12 or 24 months postpartum (37.7% and 4.2%, respectively). Even after adjustment for important confounding variables, maternal postpartum PTSD was significantly associated with not initiating breastfeeding (aOR 5.98 [95% CI 1.79-19.97]). Postpartum PTSD was also significantly related to not continuing breastfeeding up to 12 months, although this association did not hold after adjusting for confounding variables.
Conclusion: Identifying women at risk of not initiating breastfeeding is crucial to prevent a negative influence on infant development and the development of the mother-infant bond. Early screening and treatment of women at risk of developing postpartum PTSD might be a way forward.
Arch Womens Ment Health. 2018 Jun 21. doi: 10.1007/s00737-017-0802-1.
Vaginal birth may result in damage to the levator ani muscle (LAM) with subsequent pelvic floor dysfunction and there may be accompanying psychological problems. This study examines associations between these somatic injuries and psychological symptoms. A qualitative study using semi-structured interviews to examine the experiences of primiparous women (n = 40) with known LAM trauma was undertaken. Participants were identified from a population of 504 women retrospectively assessed by a perinatal imaging study at two obstetric units in Sydney, Australia. LAM avulsion was diagnosed by 3D/4D translabial ultrasound 3-6 months postpartum. The template consisted of open-ended questions. Main outcome measures were quality of information provided antenatally; intrapartum events; postpartum symptoms; and coping mechanisms. Thematic analysis of maternal experiences was employed to evaluate prevalence of themes. Ten statement categories were identified: (1) limited antenatal education (29/40); (2) no information provided on potential morbidities (36/40); (3) conflicting advice (35/40); (4) traumatized partners (21/40); (5) long-term sexual dysfunction/relationship issues (27/40); (6) no postnatal assessment of injuries (36/40); (7) multiple symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction (35/40); (8) “putting up” with injuries (36/40); (9) symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (27/40); (10) dismissive staff responses (26/40). Women who sustain LAM damage after vaginal birth have reduced quality of life due to psychological and somatic morbidities. PTSD symptoms are common. Clinicians may be unaware of the severity of this damage. Women report they feel traumatized and abandoned because such morbidities were not discussed prior to birth or postpartum.
Arch Womens Ment Health. 2018 Jun 21. doi: 10.1007/s00737-017-0794-x.
This study examines postpartum posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms and secondary outcomes including postpartum depression and birth outcomes for pregnant women who screened positive for PTSD and received a psychosocial education intervention compared to women with PTSD in the usual prenatal care setting. All women entering prenatal care at two federally qualified health centers were screened for symptoms of current PTSD; one site was selected randomly to have prenatal care advocates deliver eight Seeking Safety topics for women with clinical or subclinical PTSD. Women were not blind to condition. Baseline and postpartum interviews, including demographic characteristics and assessment of mental health, social support, and coping skills, were conducted. Medical record data was collected to document preterm delivery and low birth weight. Of the 149 participants at baseline, 128 (86%) participated in the postpartum interview. Intervention women, compared to controls, significantly decreased PTSD symptoms, and showed a non-significant trend for improved social support. However, depression, coping, and birth outcomes did not differ. This study suggests some initial support for the Seeking Safety intervention in prenatal care settings and requires further research to determine the best approaches to its implementation.
Rev Bras Psiquiatr. 2018 Apr./June 40. doi: 10.1590/1516-4446-2017-2239.
Objective: The dimensional structure of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been extensively debated, but the literature is still inconclusive and contains gaps that require attention. This article sheds light on hitherto unvisited methodological issues, reappraising several key models advanced for the DSM-IV-based civilian version of the PTSD Checklist (PCL-C) as to their configural and metric structures.
Methods: The sample comprised 456 women, interviewed at 6-8 weeks postpartum, who attended a high-complexity facility in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) and exploratory structural equation models (ESEM) were used to evaluate the dimensional structure of the PCL-C.
Results: The original three-factor solution was rejected, along with the four-factor structures most widely endorsed in the literature (PTSD-dysphoria and PTSD-numbing models). Further exploration supported a model comprised of two factors (re-experience/avoidance and numbing/hyperarousal).
Conclusion: These findings are at odds with the dimensional structure proposed in both DSM-IV and DSM-5. This also entails a different presumption regarding the latent structure of PTSD and how the PCL should be operationalized.
Arch Womens Ment Health. 2018 Apr 21. doi: 10.1007/s00737-017-0776-z.
Women have a higher prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than men, with a peak during the reproductive years. PTSD during pregnancy adversely impacts maternal and infant health outcomes. The objectives of this study were to estimate the prevalence of antepartum PTSD symptoms in a population of pregnant Peruvian women and to examine the impact of number of traumatic events and type of trauma experienced. The Traumatic Events Questionnaire was used to collect data about traumatic exposures. The Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Checklist-Civilian Version (PCL-C) was used to assess PTSD. Multivariable logistic regression procedures were used to estimate adjusted odds ratios (aOR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI). Three thousand three hundred seventy-two pregnant women were interviewed. Of the 2920 who reported experiencing one or more traumatic events, 41.8% met criteria for PTSD (PCL-C score ≥ 26). A quarter of participants had experienced four or more traumas, and 60.5% of those women had PTSD. Interpersonal trauma was most strongly associated with PTSD (aOR, 3.20; 95% CI, 2.74-3.74), followed by unspeakable trauma (aOR, 2.87; 95% CI, 2.35-3.50), and structural trauma (aOR, 1.39; 95% CI, 1.15-1.67). These findings indicate the high prevalence of PTSD during pregnancy in the Peruvian population, which is relevant to other countries suffering from terrorism, war, or high rates of violence. This underscores the importance of screening for PTSD in pregnancy.
Women Birth. 2018 Apr 31. doi: 10.1016/j.wombi.2017.07.003.
Background: Prevalence rates of Fear of Birth and postnatal depressive symptoms have not been explored in Chhattisgarh, India.
Objective: To validate Hindi Wijma Delivery Experience Questionnaire and to study the prevalence of Fear of Birth and depressive symptoms among postnatal women.
Methods: A cross-sectional survey at seventeen public health facilities in two districts of Chhattisgarh, India among postnatal women who gave birth vaginally or through C-section to a live neonate. Participants were recruited through consecutive sampling based on health facility records of daily births. Data were collected through one-to-one interviews using the Wijma Delivery Experience Questionnaire Version B and the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. Non-parametric associations and linear regression data analyses were performed.
Results: The Hindi Wijma Delivery Experience Questionnaire Version B had reliable psychometric properties. The prevalence of Fear of Birth and depressive symptoms among postnatal women were 13.1% and 17.1%, respectively, and their presence had a strong association (p<0.001). Regression analyses revealed that, among women having vaginal births: coming for institutional births due to health professionals’ advice, giving birth in a district hospital and having postnatal depressive symptoms were associated with presence of FoB; while depressive symptoms were associated with having FoB, perineal suturing without pain relief, and giving birth to a low birth-weight neonate in a district hospital.
Conclusion: The prevalence of Fear of Birth and depressive symptoms is influenced by pain management during childbirth and care processes between women and providers. These care practices should be improved for better mental health outcomes among postnatal women.
J Trauma Dissociation. 2018 Mar-Apr 19. doi: 10.1080/15299732.2017.1329773.
Intergenerational transmission of traumatization (ITT) occurs when traumatized parents have offspring with increased risk for emotional and behavioral problems. Although fetal exposure to the maternal biological milieu is known to be one factor in ITT, PTSD-driven parent-child interactions represent an additional important and potentially modifiable contributor. The Perinatal Interactional Model of ITT presented herein proposes that PTSD leads to social learning and suboptimal parent-child interactions, which undermine child regulatory capacity and increase distress, largely explaining poor social-emotional outcomes for offspring of parents with PTSD. Psychosocial intervention, particularly when delivered early in pregnancy, holds the possibility of disrupting ITT.
J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2018 May 31. doi: 10.1080/14767058.2017.1315658.
Objective: To evaluate the different coping strategies for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), described in the non-obstetric trauma literature, with respect to first time postpartum women.
Study design: This was a prospective cohort study conducted between 2011 and 2013. Eligible women had a singleton pregnancy and delivered a healthy newborn at term. Five sets of relevant questionnaires were sent to the participants six weeks postpartum. Posttraumatic stress disorder was defined as per DSM-V criteria.
Results: One hundred and eighty eight completed questionnaires were considered for the final analysis. Two women (1.1%) had PTSD and nine women (4.8%) had partial PTSD. Coping by self-blame and/or rumination together with perception of resource loss emerged as independent variables that were significantly associated with post-traumatic symptomatology (PTS) severity. Objective birth factors such as participation in birth classes or the different modes of delivery seem to have no significant impact on postpartum PTS in our study.
Conclusions: Cognitive coping styles such as self-blame and rumination, as well as perception of resource loss, were all related to postpartum PTS. Redirecting resources to address postpartum negative coping mechanisms may reduce the overall incidence of full and partial postpartum PTSD.