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J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol. 2006 Jun;27(2):91-7.

Relational factors in psychopathological responses to childbirth.

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Department of Psychology, Catholic University, Milan, Italy.


Childbirth can represent for women the time of greatest vulnerability experience, often associated with being out of control, loneliness or sadness. One hundred and sixty women who had 'normal' births were assessed within 48 hours on potential predictive measures and at 3-6 months post-partum for PTSD. Symptoms of depression, anxiety, perceived and desired support by family members, friends, medical personnel were also assessed. t-Test and chi-square were used to analyze, differences between 'risk group' and 'non-risk group'. Few women (1.25%) showed questionnaire responses suggesting clinically significant levels on PTSD; other women (28.75%) reported clinically significant symptoms for at least one subscale. Being at the first delivery experience, together with perceptions of low levels of support from family members and medical personnel, were found to be related to experience of post-traumatic stress symptoms. Anxiety for the child and previous depression are also related to such symptoms. Moreover, anxiety and depression are related to a difficult recognition of the support received, as well as to the desire for more support, in the care of the newborn, from medical professionals.

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