Singapore Institute of Technology
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Optimising maternity care for a subsequent pregnancy after a psychologically traumatic birth: A scoping review

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Background: Psychological birth trauma is recognised as a significant and ubiquitous sequelae from childbirth, with the incidence reported as up to 44%. In a subsequent pregnancy, women have reported a range of psychological distress symptoms from anxiety, panic attacks, depression, sleep difficulties and suicidal thoughts.

Aim: To summarise evidence on optimising a positive pregnancy and birth experience for a subsequent pregnancy following a psychologically traumatic pregnancy and identify research gaps.

Methods: This review followed the Joanna Briggs Institute methodology for scoping reviews and the PRISMA-ScR check list. Six databases were searched using key words relating to psychological birth trauma and subsequent pregnancy. Utilising agreed criteria, relevant papers were identified, and data were extracted and synthesised.

Results: A total of 22 papers met the inclusion criteria for this review. All papers addressed different aspects of what was important to women in this cohort, summarised as women wanting to be at the centre of their care. Pathways of care were diverse ranging from free birth to elective caesarean. There was no systematic process for identifying a previously traumatic birth experience and no education to enable clinicians to understand the importance of this.

Conclusion: For women who have experienced a previous psychologically traumatic birth, being at the centre of their care, in their subsequent pregnancy, is a priority. Embedding woman-centred pathways of care for women with this experience, as well as multidisciplinary education on the recognition and prevention of birth trauma, should be a research priority.


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Women and Birth

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