Date of Paper


Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)


Social Work

First Advisor

Catherine Marrs Fuchsel


Social Work


Approximately a third of childbearing women report their birth experience as traumatic (Ford, Ayers, & Bradley, 2010). This experience is subjective and what qualifies as trauma varies among the women who report it. Research surrounding birth trauma is primarily quantitative in nature and does not fully address the personal and emotional experience of birth trauma. The goal of this study was to examine the thoughts and emotional experiences among women who self-identified as having a traumatic birth. Qualitative interviews were conducted with nine women who reported the birth of at least one child as traumatic. Interviews focused on participants’ birth stories, thoughts and feelings in labor, and experiences postpartum. Several themes were identified, such as: physical events in labor, control, thoughts and feelings during labor, relationship and interaction with medical staff, and postpartum experiences. The study suggests that the interactions between women and medical staff as well as the type of follow up care received has an impact on both perception of and recovery from trauma. While this research study is exploratory in nature, it holds implications for social work practice and identifies areas for future birth trauma research.

Included in

Social Work Commons