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Childbirth-related post-traumatic stress disorder in couples: a qualitative study

Nicholls, K. & Ayers, S. (2007). Childbirth-related post-traumatic stress disorder in couples: a qualitative study. British Journal of Health Psychology, 12(4), pp. 491-509. doi: 10.1348/135910706x120627


OBJECTIVES: Previous research has established that women can develop childbirth-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) but the effect of this on a couple’s relationship has not been examined. This study aimed to look at the experience and impact of childbirth-related PTSD in women and their partners.

DESIGN: This was a qualitative interview study of six couples, where at least one partner had clinically significant symptoms of childbirth-related PTSD.

METHODS: Semi-structured interviews were conducted separately with each partner and interview transcripts subjected to thematic analysis.

RESULTS: Analysis identified four themes with 18 subthemes as follows: (1) birth factors (pain, negative emotions in labour, perceived lack of control, lack of choice or lack of involvement in decision-making, restricted movement or physical restraint, and expectations not being met); (2) quality of care (information provision, staff factors, continuity of care, and environment); (3) effects on relationship with partner (impact on physical relationship, communication within the relationship, negative emotions within the relationship, receiving or giving support from partner, coping together as a couple, and overall effect on the relationship); and (4) effects on relationship with child (perceptions of the child, and attachment styles).

CONCLUSIONS: This study suggests that PTSD may have a negative impact on the couple’s relationship and the parent-baby bond.

Publication Type: Article
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Nursing
SWORD Depositor:
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