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The impact of birth trauma on the couple relationship and associated requirements for support

Delicate, A. (2022). The impact of birth trauma on the couple relationship and associated requirements for support. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)

Abstract

Background: Traumatic childbirth can cause ongoing distress, often called birth trauma. Such distress can affect women, their partners, and the couple relationship. Good quality couple relationships are important to the well-being of individuals and the wider family.

Aims: This thesis aimed to investigate the impact of birth trauma on the couple relationship and associated requirements for birth trauma support.

Methods & Results: The thesis aims were addressed through four pieces of research. Two systematic reviews and meta-syntheses to investigate: (1) the impact of childbirth related PTSD or PTSS on the couple relationship (n=7); and (2) the impact of becoming parents on the couple relationship (n=12). These reviews reported a range of impacts on the couple relationship with some similarity in themes across reviews. However, the impact of birth trauma was perceived more negatively. Two empirical studies were conducted: (1) a survey of UK healthcare practitioners (n= 202) investigated assessment and observation of birth trauma and related support; and (2) interviews with UK parents investigated their experiences of the impact of birth trauma on the couple relationship and associated support needs (n=18). Empirical studies reported that barriers exist to accessing birth trauma support for the couple relationship, that current support is limited in effectiveness, and enhancement of dyadic support is required. Thesis findings were synthesised into two proposed models: (1) the impact of birth trauma on the couple relationship; and (2) the birth trauma support required by the couple relationship.

Discussion & Conclusions: Thesis findings suggest that birth trauma can have a negative impact on the couple relationship. However, some report that birth trauma can strengthened the relationship. Current support for birth trauma is limited with little evidence of effectiveness. Thesis findings indicate how birth trauma support for the couple relationship could be enhanced. Implications for research and practice are considered.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
R Medicine > RT Nursing
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Midwifery & Radiography
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > School of Health & Psychological Sciences Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses
[img] Text - Accepted Version
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