Childbirth, trauma and family relationships

Translated title of the contribution: Childbirth, trauma and family relationships

Shani Reshef, Daniella Mouadeb, Yaron Sela, F. Carolyn Weiniger, Sara A. Freedman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Childbirth is a major life event with expected positive outcomes, yet for some women postnatal psychopathological symptoms may harm women’s interpersonal relationships. We hypothesized that higher levels of postnatal depression, post-traumatic stress (PTSD) symptoms, and fear of childbirth would be associated with mother-baby bond disorders and relationship dissatisfaction in couples. Method: A cross-sectional self-report online questionnaire was used to survey partnered women who had delivered in the year prior to the study. We used a convenience sample of 228 women recruited through purposive and snowball sampling. Childbirth experience, PTSD symptoms, attachment style, depression, mother-baby bond disorders, and couple relationship dissatisfaction were measured. Results: Women with higher PTSD and postnatal depression scores reported higher levels of mother-baby bond disorders—a relationship fully mediated by postnatal depression symptoms. Women who perceived childbirth as fearful or anxiety provoking had higher levels of PTSD and postnatal depression symptoms. Fearful and anxious birth perception was positively associated with mother-baby bond disorders—an association partly mediated by PTSD symptoms. Insecure attachment style was not found to be significantly associated with fearful or anxious perceptions of childbirth. Limitations: Women who have postnatal PTSD/depression are less inclined to participate in a study of this nature. Also, online surveys prevented the use of clinical diagnoses of PTSD and depression. Discussion and conclusions: Our results suggest that PTSD and postnatal depression affect women’s mental health and family bonding. Women should be assessed for negative traumatic birth experiences, PTSD, and depression, to allow targeted observation for psychopathologies and therapeutic interventions.

Translated title of the contributionChildbirth, trauma and family relationships
Original languageEnglish
Article number2157481
JournalEuropean Journal of Psychotraumatology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Childbirth
  • attachment style
  • couple relationship
  • mother-baby bond disorders
  • postnatal depression
  • posttraumatic stress disorder


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