Perinatal factors related to post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms 1-5 years following birth

Women Birth. 2020 Mar;33(2):e129-e135. doi: 10.1016/j.wombi.2019.03.008. Epub 2019 Apr 4.


Background: The relationship between perinatal variables and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms was studied. However, the role of some variables in PTSD symptoms is unclear.

Aim: Determine the prevalence of PTSD symptoms after 1 year postpartum and their relationship with perinatal variables.

Methods: A cross-sectional study with 1531 puerperal women in Spain. Data were collected on socio-demographic variables, perinatal variables (maternal characteristics, procedures during labour and birth, birth outcomes and time since birth) and the newborn. An online questionnaire was used, which included the Perinatal Post-traumatic Stress Questionnaire (PPQ). Crude and adjusted odds ratios (OR) were calculated using binary logistic regression.

Findings: 7.2% (110) of the women were identified as being at risk for probable PTSD symptoms. Protective factors were having a birth plan respected (aOR 0.44; 95%CI 0.19-0.99), use of epidural analgesia (aOR 0.44; 95%CI 0.24-0.80) and experiencing skin-to-skin contact (aOR 0.33; 95%CI 0.20-0.55). Risk factors were instrumental birth (aOR 3.32; 95%CI1.73-3.39), caesarean section (aOR 4.80; 95%CI 2.51-9.15), receiving fundal pressure (aOR 1.72; 95%CI 1.08-2.74) and suffering a third/fourth degree perineal tear (aOR 2.73; 95%CI 1.27-5.86). The area under the model's ROC curve was 0.82 (95%CI 0.79-0.83).

Conclusions: Women who experience a normal birth, are psychologically prepared for birth (for example, through use of a birth plan), experience skin-to-skin contact with their newborn, and had a sense of physical control through the use of epidural analgesia, are less likely to experience childbirth as traumatic.

Keywords: Mode of birth; Perinatal; Postpartum; Skin-to-Skin contact; Traumatic stress symptoms.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Delivery, Obstetric / statistics & numerical data*
  • Episiotomy / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pregnancy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Risk Factors
  • Spain
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires