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Huth-Bocks, A.C. Krause, K. Ahlfs-Dunn, S. Gallagher, E. Scott, S. (2013). Relational Trauma and Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms among Pregnant Women. Psychodyn. Psych., 41(2):277-301.

(2013). Psychodynamic Psychiatry, 41(2):277-301

Relational Trauma and Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms among Pregnant Women

Alissa C. Huth-Bocks, Ph.D., Kylene Krause, Ph.D., Sarah Ahlfs-Dunn, M.S., Erin Gallagher, Ph.D. and Syreeta Scott, M.S.

Women experience remarkably high rates of relational trauma including childhood abuse and neglect and intimate partner violence (IPV) during adulthood, and the childbearing years are no exception. The meaning of past and current relational trauma perpetrated by primary caregivers and significant others may be unique during pregnancy, in particular, because pregnancy is a salient time when mothers' important relationships are reworked and reorganized to “make room” for the relationship with the baby. The present study examined associations between different forms of relational trauma and posttraumatic stress symptoms in 120 women during the last trimester of pregnancy. Women were between the ages of 18 and 42 years and came from diverse economic and ethnic backgrounds. Results indicated that severity of childhood maltreatment was significantly related to severity of IPV during pregnancy, and both types of trauma made unique, significant contributions to posttraumatic stress symptoms. Furthermore, emotional/psychological violence had the largest associations with posttraumatic stress symptoms compared to other forms of violence. Findings indicate that it is critically important for clinicians working with pregnant women to conduct a thorough assessment of current and past relational trauma, including emotional/psychological trauma, in order to improve the well-being of the mother, the infant, and the mother-infant relationship.

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