Acute stress reactions in the first 3 weeks postpartum: A study of 219 parturients

Stadlmayr, Werner; Bitzer, Johannes; Amsler, Felix; Simoni, Heidi; Alder, Judith; Surbek, Daniel; Bürgin, Dieter (2006). Acute stress reactions in the first 3 weeks postpartum: A study of 219 parturients. European journal of obstetrics & gynecology and reproductive biology, 135(1), pp. 65-72. Shannon: Elsevier 10.1016/j.ejogrb.2006.11.016

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OBJECTIVES: There is increasing research on posttraumatic stress (PS) 4-6 weeks and 3 months postpartum, but, there are no data on acute stress reactions (ASR) in the first 3 weeks postpartum, i.e. the potential precursors of PS. However, ASR may have long-term effects, e.g., on a subsequent pregnancy without having manifested as PS in the meantime. We propose: (i) to describe the patterns of ASR after childbirth, (ii) to explore differences between women with normal and traumatogenic ASR, and (iii) to provide data on the early detection of traumatogenic ASR 2 and 3 weeks postpartum. STUDY DESIGN: Intra-event variables (relationship with caregivers, overall birth experience, and dissociative experiences, as well as obstetric variables) were assessed 48-96h. postpartum, as were ASR (by means of the Impact-of-Event Scale IES) in weeks 1, 2, and 3 postpartum. According to research on PS the upper 33%-range of ASR in weeks 2 and 3 was defined as 'traumatogenic'. RESULTS: Normal ASR in week 1 are at a level which in non-obstetric trauma-situations is considered as the upper range of low stress or lower range of medium distress. ASR decline constantly from week 1 to week 3. However, high ASR in week 1 do not drop faster than do low ones, thus indicating a prolonged stress reaction in women with high ASR in week 1. Low ASR (IES-scores <10) and high ASR (IES-scores >20) in week 1 are highly predictive for normal ASR, and traumatogenic ASR in weeks 2 and 3, respectively. Medium ASR (IES-scores 10-20) in week 1 are of uncertain predictive value for stress reactions in weeks 2 and 3 and have to be re-assessed at that time. CONCLUSIONS: Clinical screening for ASR appears to be helpful in detecting women with a compromised ability to process childbirth-related stress. The association between ASR and long-term development should be further explored.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Gynaecology, Paediatrics and Endocrinology (DFKE) > Clinic of Gynaecology

UniBE Contributor:

Stadlmayr, Werner, Surbek, Daniel










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Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 14:50

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:15

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URI: (FactScience: 5150)

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