Preventing traumatic childbirth experiences: 2192 women's perceptions and views.
Hollander MH, van Hastenberg E, van Dillen J, van Pampus MG, de Miranda E, Stramrood CAI.
Arch Womens Ment Health. 2017 Aug;20(4):515-523. doi: 10.1007/s00737-017-0729-6. Epub 2017 May 29.

To explore and quantify perceptions and experiences of women with a traumatic childbirth experience, in order to identify areas for prevention and to help midwives and obstetricians improve woman centered care.

A retrospective survey was conducted online among 2192 women with a self-reported traumatic childbirth experience. Women were recruited in March 2016 through social media, including specific parent support groups. They filled out a 35-item questionnaire of which the most important items were (1) self-reported attributions of the trauma, and how they believe the traumatic experience could have been prevented (2) by the caregivers or (3) by themselves.

The responses most frequently given were (1) lack and/or loss of control (54.6%), fear for baby’s health/life (49.9%), and high intensity of pain/ physical discomfort (47.4%), (2) communicate/explain (39.1%), listen to me (more) (36.9%) and support me (more/better) emotionally/practically (29.8%), and (3) nothing (37.0%), ask for (26.9%) or refuse (16.5%) certain interventions. Primiparous participants chose High intensity of pain/ physical discomfort, Long duration of delivery and Discrepancy between expectations and reality more often and Fear for own health/life, A bad outcome and Delivery went too fast less often than multiparous participants.

Women attribute their traumatic childbirth experience primarily to lack and/or loss of control, issues of communication and practical/emotional support. They believe that in many cases their trauma could have been reduced or prevented by better communication and support by their caregiver, or if they themselves had asked for or refused interventions.


Psychosocial Predictors of Postpartum Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Women With a Traumatic Childbirth Experience
van Heumen MA, Hollander MH, Pampus van MG, van Dillen J, Stramrood CAI
Frontiers in Psychiatry, 31 July 2018.

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).

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%.

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.