The influence of childbirth experiences on women's postpartum traumatic stress symptoms: A comparison between Israeli Jewish and Arab women

Ofra Halperin, Orly Sarid, Julie Cwikel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: childbirth is a positive experience for most women yet some women express distress after birth. Traumatic experience can sometimes cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in relation to childbirth. Prevalence of traumatic birth experience and PTSD after childbirth differs between cultures. Objectives: to examine the subjective recall of childbirth experiences and PTSD symptoms of Israeli Jewish and Arab women; to examine comparatively the prevalence of PTSD symptoms six to eight weeks after childbirth and to establish the factors that predict PTSD symptoms. Methods: a prospective study was conducted in a region characterised by wide variations in ethnocultural groups. The study was comprised of two time points: Time 1 (T1) interviews were conducted at the bedside of the women in the maternity ward of each hospital 24-48 hours after childbirth. Time 2 (T2), all 171 women participating in T1 were interviewed by phone six to eight weeks after childbirth. Findings: 34 women (19.9%) reported their labour as traumatic 24-48 hours after birth (T1), and six to eight weeks later (T2) 67 women (39.2%) assessed their experience as traumatic. More Arab women (69.6%) than Jewish women (56.5%) had a positive memory of childbirth, but this difference only approached statistical significance (. p=.09). Results showed rather low frequencies of PTSD symptoms, and no ethnic difference. PTSD symptoms were significantly and positively predicted by subjective recollection of childbirth experience (Time 2). PTSD symptoms were higher for women who did not have a vaginal birth, and more women with PTSD symptoms were not breast feeding. Conclusions: we found more similarities than differences between Arab and Jewish women's experience of their births and no differences between them on the prevalence of PTSD symptoms after birth. The results suggest that non-vaginal birth (instrumental or caesarean section) and negative recollection of the childbirth experience are important factors related to the development of PTSD symptoms after birth, and that women with PTSD symptoms are less likely to breast feed.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)625-632
Number of pages8
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2015


  • Culture
  • PTSD symptoms
  • Traumatic childbirth experience

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology
  • Maternity and Midwifery


Dive into the research topics of 'The influence of childbirth experiences on women's postpartum traumatic stress symptoms: A comparison between Israeli Jewish and Arab women'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this