Emotional Distress Following Childbirth: An Intervention to Buffer Depressive and PTSD Symptoms

Paola Di Blasio, Sarah Miragoli, Elena Camisasca, Angela Maria Di Vita, Rosalia Pizzo, Laura Pipitone


Childbirth for some women is a negative experience associated with depressive and post-traumatic symptoms. The preventive actions focusing on helping mothers to cope with negative emotions experienced after childbirth are strongly recommended. It is also recommended both to intervene early and on all women to avoid the risk that these symptoms can worsen in the months after childbirth. The intervention described in the current study is focalized on the elaboration of post-partum negative thoughts and emotion through a writing task, with the purpose to help new mothers to reflect, understand, evaluate and, thus, reformulate the stressful situation with new beliefs and emotions. 176 women aged from 19 to 43 years (M = 31.55, SD = 4.58) were assessed for depression and PTSD in the prenatal phase (T1). In about 96 hours after childbirth they were randomly assigned to either “Making Sense condition” (MS: in which they wrote about the thoughts and emotions connected with delivery and childbirth) or “Control-Neutral condition” (NC: in which they wrote about the daily events in behavioural terms) and then reassessed for depression and PTSD (T2). A follow up was conducted 3 months later (T3) to verify depression and posttraumatic symptoms. The results showed that depressive symptoms decreased both at 96 hours and at 3 months as a result of making-sense task. Regarding the posttraumatic symptoms the positive effect emerged at three months and not at 96 hours after birth.


intervention; childbirth; depression; Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

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