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Postpartum Trauma SIG


It is estimated that around 138 million women give birth each year. Although many people think of childbirth as a uniformly happy event research as exists indicates that childbirth may have negative (as well as positive) psychological effects. Not surprisingly, parturition-related complications that threaten serious injury or death to the mother and/or her child may trigger posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the mother. However, for a substantial portion of women, even a successful, full-term childbirth can be emotionally traumatic, and some may go on and develop a persistent posttraumatic mental disorder. Psychiatric outcomes have been receiving growing attention in postpartum units, especially postpartum depression. However, there is much less awareness of conditions of traumatic stress in the context of the perinatal period and the occurrence of PTSD resulting from a traumatic childbirth experience with or without serious parturition-related complications. The study of maternal posttraumatic mental disorder is especially important given the potential adverse effects on the health of the offspring. A SIG within ISTSS is the ideal forum to raise awareness and spread knowledge about traumatic childbirth exposure and postpartum PTSD. This forum will bring together a multidisciplinary group of professionals, researchers and clinicians alike, to generate scientific collaborations and other forms of joint work in an effort to advance clinical and translational research that has the potential to lead to the prevention of postpartum PTSD.

Unlike other potentially traumatic stressors, childbirth is a predicted event. This allows for an opportunity to learn about the development of posttraumatic stress responses as well as resilience in a population where it is known in advance when a potentially traumatic event is going to occur. Thus, scientific collaboration among members of this SIG group could generate findings that have general relevance for trauma-exposed individuals and their clinical care.

Our mission will be accomplished through:
• Developing a professional network to exchange knowledge and foster international collaboration among SIG members to develop assessment tools and secondary preventive therapies for women at risk for postpartum PTSD, which are lacking
• Delivering presentations in the area of postpartum trauma at the ISTSS annual meeting
• Offering educational resources for the public and professionals via the ISTSS website
• Serving as a resource for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and other policy makers


Postpartum Trauma

Sharon Dekel

Harvard Medical School

Student Chair 

Alexandra L. Ballinger, M.A.

Michigan State University


Postpartum Trauma SIG Listserv Address

Members of the Postpartum Trauma SIG can use the SIG listserv to share information with the full SIG. istss-postpartum-trauma-sig@groups.istss.org