Psykologisk Institut

Imagining and Remembering Childbirth: A Prospective Study of Psychological Distress in First-Time Mothers

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  • Lynn Ann Watson
  • Heather O'Mahen, Mood Disorders Centre, University of Exeter, Storbritannien
  • Lauren Lee, University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, Storbritannien
A small but significant proportion of mothers experience mental health difficulties such as symptoms of postnatal depression and posttraumatic stress following childbirth. Identifying psychological factors present during pregnancy that predict poorer mental health following birth allows us to identify vulnerable women and provide appropriate psychological help in order to minimize or prevent symptoms of psychological distress both prior to and following childbirth. More prospective studies in this area are necessary to help us identify key psychological factors that may be predictive of poorer mental health outcomes following childbirth.

This prospective study assessed 106 first time mothers prior to and following childbirth: after 27 weeks gestation and up to 12 weeks after birth. Measures of traumatic stress, traumatic growth, depression and anxiety were obtained at both time points. In addition, mothers were asked to imagine or remember their experience of childbirth and rate 24 autobiographical characteristics of the event and their expectations about the event.

Mothers reported high levels of traumatic stress before childbirth that decreased significantly following childbirth. Traumatic growth increased significantly while levels of depression and anxiety were low across both time points. Prior to childbirth, younger age and concerns about bonding with baby were associated with higher levels of psychological distress and these variables continued to predict distress following childbirth. A number of autobiographical characteristics (emotionality, centrality, repetitive thinking and avoidance) were associated with higher levels of psychological distress prior to childbirth. However, the strongest predictor of post-natal levels of psychological distress was higher levels of psychological distress prior to childbirth.

The results support previous research that higher levels of psychological distress prior to childbirth is associated with higher levels of distress in the post-natal period. Younger mothers and mothers reporting concerns about bonding may also be more vulnerable. In addition, the way in which first-time mothers imagine and remember their childbirth experiences may have consequences for the level of psychological distress they experience. More broadly, these findings contribute to the expanding literature on relationships between autobiographical event processing and psychological wellbeing and speak to the use of imagining and remembering autobiographical events in the context of psychological treatment.

Antal sider2
StatusUdgivet - 2019
Begivenhed9th World Congress of Behavioural and Cognitive Therapies 2019 - Germany, Berlin
Varighed: 17 jul. 201920 jul. 2019


Konference9th World Congress of Behavioural and Cognitive Therapies 2019

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