The anniversary of birth trauma: failure to rescue

Nurs Res. 2006 Nov-Dec;55(6):381-90. doi: 10.1097/00006199-200611000-00002.


Background: The reported prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder secondary to birth trauma ranges from 1.5% to 5.6%. Serious ramifications of birth trauma are beginning to be recognized, such as impaired mother-infant interaction.

Objective: The aim of this study was to determine the essence of mothers' experiences regarding the anniversary of their birth trauma.

Methods: Colaizzi's method of phenomenology was used to guide the study. Participants were recruited via the Internet through a charitable trust located in New Zealand called Trauma and Birth Stress. Thirty-seven women sent attachment stories describing their experiences of the anniversary of their traumatic childbirths.

Results: Four themes revealed the essence of women's experiences of the anniversary of their birth trauma: (a) The prologue: An agonizing time; (b) The actual day: A celebration of a birthday or the torment of an anniversary; (c) The epilogue: A fragile state; and (d) Subsequent anniversaries: For better or worse.

Discussion: Based on the findings of this study on the anniversary of traumatic childbirths, the time seems right to broaden the use of the term failure to rescue to these childbearing women. Not only clinicians but also family and friends failed to rescue mothers during the period surrounding the anniversary of their birth trauma.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adjustment Disorders / psychology*
  • Adult
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Mother-Child Relations
  • Obstetric Labor Complications / psychology*
  • Parturition / psychology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*