Objective: The present study explored differences in mental health between women who experienced a trauma which involved a loss of fetal or infant life compared to women whose trauma did not involve a loss (difficult childbirth). Method: The sample consisted of 144 women (mean age = 31.13) from the UK, USA/Canada, Europe, Australia/New Zealand, who had experienced either stillbirth, neonatal loss, ectopic pregnancy, or traumatic birth with a living infant in the last 4 years. Results: The trauma without loss group reported significantly higher mental health problems than the trauma with loss group (F (1,117) = 4.807, p = .03). This difference was observed in the subtypes of OCD, panic, PTSD and GAD but not for major depression, agoraphobia and social phobia. However, once previous mental health diagnoses were taken into account, differences between trauma groups in terms of mental health scores disappeared, with the exception of PTSD symptoms. Trauma groups also differed in terms of perceived emotional support from significant others. Conclusion: The findings illustrate the need for a change in the focus of support for women’s birth experiences and highlighted previous mental health problems as a risk factor for mental health problems during the perinatal period.
Bibliographical note© 2016 Informa UK Limited, publishing as Taylor & Francis. This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology on 15th June 2016, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/02646838.2016.1186266.
- Perinatal trauma
- perinatal loss
- difficult childbirth