Postpartum psychological distress after emergency team response during childbirth

J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol. 2019 Dec;40(4):304-310. doi: 10.1080/0167482X.2018.1512095. Epub 2018 Sep 11.


Purpose: To evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of a protocol determining the relationship between emergency team response (ETR) during childbirth and acute stress disorder (ASD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. Methods: In a prospective, observational, cohort design, women experiencing ETR during childbirth were approached and recruited on postpartum day-1 and followed for six weeks. Demographics, obstetric and birth characteristics, ASD scores and PTSD scores (by Impact of Events Scale, IES and PCL-civilian) were recorded. Recruitment and retention rates were recorded, and scores were compared to women who did not experience ETR. Results: Three hundred sixty-nine were approached and 249 were enrolled (67.5% recruitment rate). One hundred twenty-five completed all procedures (50.2% retention). Twenty experienced ETR (3.5% event rate), 12 enrolled (60.0% recruitment rate) and 8 completed the study (66.7% retention). The ETR group had higher PCL and IES scores (PCL: ETR median 12, non-ETR median 2, p = .08; IES: ETR median 22.5, non-ETR median 20, p = .08). ASD scores were similar between groups. Conclusions: Methodology investigating the link between ETR and postpartum psychological distress is feasible and acceptable. A relationship between ETR and PTSD symptoms appears to exist, with ETR being associated with higher PTSD scores compared to non-ETR childbirths. Methods that incorporate awareness of the unique concerns of vulnerable populations are needed.

Keywords: ASD; PTSD; Postpartum; morbidity; obstetric; trauma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Delivery, Obstetric / psychology
  • Emergency Medical Services*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Obstetric Labor Complications / psychology*
  • Obstetric Labor Complications / therapy
  • Parturition / psychology*
  • Postpartum Period / psychology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychological Distress*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires