The Family Experience of Psychologically Traumatic Births: A proposed area of study
Introduction: Psychologically traumatic births, a form of perinatal Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), is emerging as a health concern with the potential to disrupt the quality of parental and spousal relationships. A rich understanding of birth trauma will inform health care providers in providing optimal care for women who have this experience and help address the subsequent issues that may arise within the family.
Methods: In this study, I will explore how families experience psychologically traumatic birth by inquiring 1) how families perceive birth trauma, 2) how each family member experiences birth trauma, and 3) how birth trauma impacts family relationships. This study will be guided by a qualitative research method, Gadamerian hermeneutics, which is well-suited for new and emerging topics, such as this. A sample of ten families will be recruited for this study within 12 months following birth. They will be recruited from clinics/offices of maternity care providers. There will be three forms of data collection that will be used in the interpretation: journal entries, interviews, and videotaped interactions, one between each parent and their infant.
Results: The findings from this study will provide the foundation for the future care of new families, acute and community-based and maternal care providers, and community stakeholders and agencies. They will inform and guide future research in the development and testing of interventions and make recommendations for existing programs and supports to more accurately meet the needs of new families.
Conclusion: Birth trauma, the experience of the family, and the effect on parent-child interactions are crucial concepts to understand because of their implications on child development. Given the significance of the maternal-infant relationship on health and developmental outcomes of the child, it is important to explore factors that compromise the quality of this relationship and potentially paternal-child relationships, such as psychological trauma resulting from the birthing experience.