Perinatal Mental Health and Birth-Related Trauma: Maximising best practice and optimal outcomes
Unlike other sources of trauma, perinatal or birth-related trauma is relatively unrecognised. Evidence suggests up to 30% of women describe their birth experience as traumatic and experience some symptoms of intrusion, avoidance or hyper-arousal. Meta-analyses show post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects 4% of women after birth and up to 18% of women in high risk groups. Rectification of this situation is essential. In 2016, 5.11 million babies were born in Europe, indicating that up to 1.5 million women may have had sub-optimal birth experiences and over 200,000 may have developed PTSD as a result. Developmental research has firmly established that the quality of infant-parent relationships is a critical factor in early and later childhood development, consequently, a family-centred approach to any investigation of birth-related trauma is critical, as trauma can be transmitted within the family system. Given the enormous economic burden it places on women, health systems, and particularly children, relatively small improvements in services to prevent, detect and treat this problem can benefit society significantly. The main aim of this Action is two-fold. The Action will establish an international multidisciplinary network of researchers, clinicians, NGOs and SMEs to 1) consolidate and disseminate current evidence and coordinate a joint effort to seek ways to prevent, minimise and resolve birth-related trauma, and to optimise emotional and psychological outcomes for parents and families and 2) accelerate the translation of that knowledge into best practices that can be shared across Europe to reduce the societal and economic burden arising from birth-related negative/traumatic experiences.