A pilot study of eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing treatment (EMDR) for post-traumatic stress after childbirth

Midwifery. 2008 Mar;24(1):62-73. doi: 10.1016/j.midw.2006.07.008. Epub 2007 Jan 12.


Objective: to explore the possibility of using eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) to treat women who have experienced post-traumatic stress after childbirth.

Design: the pilot study consisted of a 'before and after' treatment design combined with follow-up measurements 1-3 years after EMDR treatment. Quantitative data from questionnaires (Traumatic Event Scale [TES]) were collected. In addition, qualitative data from individual interviews with the participants were collected as well as data from the psychotherapist's treatment notes of the EMDR treatment sessions.

Setting: the north of Sweden.

Participants: four women with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after childbirth (one pregnant and three non-pregnant).

Findings: all participants reported reduction of post-traumatic stress after treatment. After 1-3 years, the beneficial effects of EMDR treatment remained for three of the four women. Symptoms of intrusive thoughts and avoidance seemed most sensitive for treatment.

Implications for practice: EMDR might be a useful tool in the treatment of non-pregnant women severely traumatised by childbirth; however, further research is required.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Desensitization, Psychologic / methods*
  • Eye Movements*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Midwifery / methods*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pilot Projects
  • Postnatal Care / methods*
  • Pregnancy
  • Puerperal Disorders / nursing*
  • Research Design
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / nursing*
  • Stress, Psychological / nursing
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweden
  • Treatment Outcome