June 25, 2024

Recommendations for Improving Birth Experiences and Reducing PTSD in Childbirth

International experts have come together to develop a set of recommendations aimed at reducing traumatic birth experiences and the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following childbirth. Led by Professor Susan Ayers from City, University of London, the recommendations encompass various aspects of practice, policy, and research that have the potential to improve outcomes for women and families worldwide.

The recommendations, published in the journal Women and Birth, emphasize the importance of integrating trauma-informed care principles in maternity settings and ensuring the rights of women are respected throughout the birth process. Additionally, the experts call for the establishment of international guidelines to raise awareness about traumatic birth and perinatal mental health issues.

Studies have shown that approximately one in three births are experienced as psychologically traumatic, with around 4% of women and 1% of their partners developing childbirth-related PTSD as a consequence. These rates are even higher in low and middle-income countries, with prevalence reaching 12% and 29% in Turkey and Iran, respectively.

The impact of traumatic birth experiences and subsequent PTSD can be far-reaching, leading to significant suffering and long-term health implications for women, infants, and families. Issues such as depression, fear of future births, disrupted mother-infant relationships, and strain on couples’ relationships are commonly associated with childbirth-related PTSD.

Moreover, traumatic birth experiences can also have implications for healthcare providers and incur substantial costs for healthcare systems, presenting potential economic consequences for society at large. The recommendations put forth by the experts aim to address these challenges by offering guidance for practice, policy, research, and theory.

The international team of researchers and clinicians, representing 33 countries, conducted consultations and engaged with stakeholders to gather insights on traumatic birth and childbirth-related PTSD. These efforts culminated in a set of expert consensus recommendations that highlight the significance of preventative measures and the modifiable factors that can mitigate the impact of traumatic birth events.

Professor Susan Ayers emphasized the global importance of preventing traumatic births and PTSD, aligning with the World Health Organization’s advocacy for dignified and respectful maternity care. She underlined that while efforts have been made to address negative birth experiences, there is still work to be done to improve outcomes for women and families.

By implementing the expert recommendations, there is a potential to reduce the incidence of traumatic births and PTSD, leading to better outcomes for all involved in the childbirth process. The adoption of a comprehensive, holistic approach to mental health support during childbirth is encouraged to ensure the well-being of women, infants, families, and healthcare services.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it