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Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2018 Jun;97(6):648-656. doi: 10.1111/aogs.13291. Epub 2018 Mar 2.

Preventing post-traumatic stress disorder following childbirth and traumatic birth experiences: a systematic review.

Author information

1
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, OLVG Hospital, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
2
VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
3
University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, the Netherlands.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

Between 9 and 44% of women experience giving birth as traumatic, and 3% of women develop a post-traumatic stress disorder following childbirth. Knowledge on risk factors is abundant, but studies on treatment are limited. This study aimed to present an overview of means to prevent traumatic birth experiences and childbirth-related post-traumatic stress disorder.

MATERIAL AND METHODS:

Major databases [Cochrane; Embase; PsycINFO; PubMed (Medline)] were searched using combinations of the key words and their synonyms.

RESULTS:

After screening titles and abstracts and reading 135 full-text articles, 13 studies were included. All evaluated secondary prevention, and none primary prevention. Interventions included debriefing, structured psychological interventions, expressive writing interventions, encouraging skin-to-skin contact with healthy newborns immediately postpartum and holding or seeing the newborn after stillbirth. The large heterogeneity of study characteristics precluded pooling of data. The writing interventions to express feelings appeared to be effective in prevention. A psychological intervention including elements of exposure and psycho-education seemed to lead to fewer post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms in women who delivered via emergency cesarean section.

CONCLUSIONS:

No research has been done on primary prevention of traumatic childbirth. Research on secondary prevention of traumatic childbirth and post-traumatic stress disorder following delivery provides insufficient evidence that the described interventions are effective in unselected groups of women. In certain subgroups, results are inhomogeneous.

KEYWORDS:

Post-traumatic stress disorder; childbirth; post-traumatic stress disorder; postpartum; prevention; trauma

PMID:
29336486
DOI:
10.1111/aogs.13291

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