Traumatic stress after childbirth: the role of obstetric variables

J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol. 2002 Mar;23(1):31-9. doi: 10.3109/01674820209093413.


In a sample of 1550 recently delivered women, traumatic stress after childbirth was studied in relation to obstetric variables. A post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptom profile and traumatic stress symptoms were assessed by means of the Traumatic Event Scale (TES). Obstetric data comprised delivery mode, duration of the second stage of labor (the time from cervical dilation of 10 cm to partus) and the use of analgesia/anesthesia. Traumatic stress symptoms and having a PTSD symptom profile were both significantly related to the experience of an emergency cesarean section or an instrumental vaginal delivery. It is of clinical importance, however, that most women with a PTSD symptom profile were found in the normal vaginal delivery group (NVD). This implies that a normal vaginal delivery can be experienced as traumatic, just as an emergency cesarian section is not necessarily traumatic. Traumatic stress symptoms were neither substantially correlated to the duration of the second stage of labor, nor to the use of analgesia/anesthesia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Labor, Obstetric / psychology*
  • Life Change Events
  • Pregnancy
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / etiology*