Management of post traumatic stress disorder after childbirth: a review

J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol. 2010 Sep;31(3):113-22. doi: 10.3109/0167482X.2010.503330.


Prevalence and risk factors for the development of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after childbirth is well described in the literature. However, its management and treatment has only begun to be investigated. The aim of this article is to describe the studies that examine the effects of interventions on PTSD after childbirth. MedLine, PILOTS, CINAHL and ISI Web of Science databases were systematically searched for randomised controlled trials, pilot studies and case studies using key words related to PTSD, childbirth, treatment and intervention. The reference lists of the retrieved articles were also used to supplement the search. A total of nine studies were retrieved. Seven studies that examined debriefing or counselling were identified; six randomised controlled trials and one pilot study. Also found were one case report describing the effects of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) on two women, and one pilot study of eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR). Overall, there is limited evidence concerning the management of women with PTSD after childbirth. The results agree with the findings from the non-childbirth related literature: debriefing and counselling are inconclusively effective while CBT and EMDR may improve PTSD status but require investigation in controlled trials before conclusions could be drawn.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Behavior Therapy*
  • Counseling*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Parturition / psychology*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome