Click on the icon on the upper right hand side for the article by Inbal Shlomi Polachek, MD, Liat Huller Harari, MD, Micha Baum, MD and Rael D. Strous, MD.
IMAJ 2012: 14: June: 347-353
Background: While many are familiar with postpartum depression, the phenomenon of postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is less well known and investigated. Objectives: To assess the prevalence of postpartum PTSD in a cohort of women in Israel, and to examine factors affecting its development.
Methods: Eighty-nine women completed several ratings immediately after delivery and one month later. The factors examined related to the pregnancy, childbirth expectations, and delivery. Rating scales comprised evaluations of attachment, personality, PTSD, and demographic variables.
Results: The prevalence of post-partum PTSD was 3.4% (complete PTSD), 7.9% nearly complete PTSD, and 25.9% significant partial disorder. Women who developed PTSD symptoms had a higher prevalence of "traumatic" previous childbirth, with subsequent depression and anxiety. They also reported more medical complications and “mental crises” during pregnancy as well as anticipating more childbirth pain and fear. Instrumental or cesarean deliveries were not associated with PTSD. Most of the women who developed PTSD symptoms delivered vaginally but received fewer analgesics with stronger reported pain. Women with PTSD reported more discomfort with the undressed state, stronger feelings of danger, and higher rates of not wanting more children.
Conclusions: The study results indicate a) the importance of inquiring about previous pregnancy and birthing experiences, b) the need to identify at-risk populations, and c) increased awareness of the disorder. The importance of addressing anticipatory concerns of pain prior to delivery and of respecting the woman’s dignity and minimizing the undressed state during childbirth should not be underestimated. A short questionnaire following childbirth may enable rapid identification of symptoms relevant to PTSD.