University of Sussex

File(s) not publicly available

Childbirth-related post-traumatic stress disorder in couples: A qualitative study

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-07, 18:12 authored by Karen Nicholls, Susan Ayers
OBJECTIVES: Previous research has established that women can develop childbirth-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) but the effect of this on a couple s relationship has not been examined. This study aimed to look at the experience and impact of childbirth-related PTSD in women and their partners. DESIGN: This was a qualitative interview study of six couples, where at least one partner had clinically significant symptoms of childbirth-related PTSD. METHODS: Semi-structured interviews were conducted separately with each partner and interview transcripts subjected to thematic analysis. RESULTS: Analysis identified four themes with 18 subthemes as follows: (1) birth factors (pain, negative emotions in labour, perceived lack of control, lack of choice or lack of involvement in decision-making, restricted movement or physical restraint, and expectations not being met); (2) quality of care (information provision, staff factors, continuity of care, and environment); (3) effects on relationship with partner (impact on physical relationship, communication within the relationship, negative emotions within the relationship, receiving or giving support from partner, coping together as a couple, and overall effect on the relationship); and (4) effects on relationship with child (perceptions of the child, and attachment styles). CONCLUSIONS: This study suggests that PTSD may have a negative impact on the couple s relationship and the parent-baby bond.


Publication status

  • Published


British Journal of Health Psychology







Page range


Department affiliated with

  • Psychology Publications


First author is my MSc student

Full text available

  • No

Peer reviewed?

  • Yes

Legacy Posted Date


Usage metrics

    University of Sussex (Publications)


    No categories selected