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J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol. 2011 Sep;32(3):141-6. doi: 10.3109/0167482X.2011.596962.

Post-traumatic stress symptoms, parenting stress and mother-child relationships following childbirth and at 2 years postpartum.

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Nottinghamshire NHS, Adult Mental Health, Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Mansfield, Nottingham, UK.


This study examined the prevalence of childbirth-related post-traumatic stress (PTS) symptoms at 2 years postpartum and the relationship between such symptoms and both self-reported parenting stress and perceptions of the mother-child relationship. 81 women completed measures of childbirth-related PTS symptoms at 6 weeks and 3 months postpartum; these results were used in an exploration of their predictive links with mother-child relationship and parenting measures at 2 years. 17.3% of respondents reported some PTS symptoms at a clinically significant level at 2 years postpartum. However, these symptoms were only weakly linked to parenting stress and were not related to mothers' perceptions of their children. However earlier PTS symptoms within 3 months of childbirth did show limited associations with parenting stress at 2 years but no association with child relationship outcomes once current depression was taken into account. Implications for clinical practice and the concept of childbirth-related post-traumatic stress disorder are discussed.

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