Women's experiences of symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after traumatic childbirth: a review and critical appraisal

Arch Womens Ment Health. 2015 Dec;18(6):761-71. doi: 10.1007/s00737-015-0560-x. Epub 2015 Aug 12.


This paper critically analyses nine studies on postnatal posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following traumatic childbirth, in order to find common themes of PTSD symptoms, using the cognitive model of PTSD as a guide; it critically appraised one of the studies in depth and it attempted to explain the lived experience of women suffering from postnatal PTSD following traumatic childbirth and the suitability of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for postnatal PTSD. This paper found that women following traumatic childbirth do experience postnatal PTSD; postnatal PTSD symptoms are similar to PTSD symptoms of other events and that CBT for PTSD of other events is just as effective for postnatal PTSD. Future recommendations include more qualitative studies with interpretative phenomenological approach in order to establish evidence-based CBT treatment for this client group, and more referrals need to be sent to the psychological services for CBT intervention.

Keywords: Avoidance behaviour; CBT; Core beliefs; Current threat; Dysfunctional assumptions; Hot spots; Negative automatic thoughts; PTSD; Re-experiencing; Rumination.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Avoidance Learning
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Parturition / psychology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / therapy
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*