Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Common after Childbirth

After having my first child, I remember telling friends that while I didn’t think it was a great way to spend a day, childbirth wasn’t nearly as bad or scary as I thought. For many women, however, this is not the case. A new study published in the Israel Medical Association Journal suggest that one out of three women experience some of the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) (which is more often associated with natural disasters, accidents, and returning war veterans) and three percent have full on PTSD.

Researchers interviewed 89 women between the ages of 20 and 40, first within two to five days after delivery and then again one month after delivery. They found that 25.9 percent of the women interviewed displayed symptoms of post-trauma, 7.8 percent suffered from partial post-trauma, and 3.4 percent exhibited symptoms of full-blown PTSD. The most common symptoms included flashbacks to labor, avoidance of discussing the events, physical reactions like heart palpitations during such discussions, and a unwillingness to consider having another child.

Moreover, the researchers found that pain management during labor had a large impact on PTSD symptoms later on. About 80 percent of women who experienced partial or full post-trauma symptoms had delivered via natural childbirth, without any pain relief. According to one of the authors:

In addition, 80 of the women who experienced PTSD said they were uncomfortable being unclothed.

Other factors such as having a midwife or doula during labor, socioeconomic status, marital status, level of education, and religion did not help women avoid PTSD symptoms caused by childbirth according to this study.

Given the vitriol with which the topic of pain relief during labor is often debated, I can imagine that this study could become controversial especially because the sa.

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