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Posttraumatic growth after childbirth: A prospective study

Sawyer, A., Ayers, S., Young, D. , Bradley, R. & Smith, H. (2012). Posttraumatic growth after childbirth: A prospective study. Psychology and Health, 27(3), pp. 362-377. doi: 10.1080/08870446.2011.578745


A growing body of research has examined the potential for positive change following challenging and traumatic events, this is known as posttraumatic growth (PTG). Childbirth is a valuable opportunity to extend previous work on PTG as it allows the role of different variables to be considered prospectively. The aim of this study was to prospectively examine correlates of PTG after birth, including sociodemographic and obstetric variables, social support and psychological distress, using a prospective, longitudinal design. A total of 125 women completed questionnaires during their third trimester of pregnancy and 8 weeks after birth. At least a small degree of positive change following childbirth was reported by 47.9% of women; however, average levels of growth were lower than generally reported in other studies. A regression model of age, type of delivery, posttraumatic stress symptoms during pregnancy and general distress after birth significantly predicted 32% of the variance in growth after childbirth. The strongest predictors of growth were operative delivery (β 0.23–0.30) and posttraumatic stress symptoms in pregnancy (β 0.32). These findings emphasise the importance of assessing pre-event characteristics when considering the development of PTG after a challenging event.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: posttraumatic growth, posttraumatic stress disorder, childbirth, social support, psychosocial
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RG Gynecology and obstetrics
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Nursing
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