Purpose: To explore and compare associations among demographics, childbirth-related stressors, depressive symptoms, gestational age, and psychological birth trauma (PBT) among adolescents.
Study Design and Methods: This cross-sectional, descriptive, comparative study compared two groups of adolescents for PBT. From a larger study dataset, we identified all adolescents delivering prior to 38 weeks (n = 30) and randomly selected 30 adolescents delivering between 38 and 42 weeks gestation for comparison. PBT was defined via birth appraisal, assessed by a one-item rating scale, and trauma impact, assessed via the Impact of Event Scale. Surveys, including the Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression Scale, were completed within 72 hours of birth. We used frequencies and percentages to describe the sample and Chi square, Spearman Rank-Order Correlation, and Pearson's Product Moment Correlation to determine relationships between variables. Chi square and ANOVA statistical tests determined group differences.
Results: Adolescents were primarily Latina, single, primigravidas, and over 16 years of age. Adolescents delivering before 38 weeks experiencing cesarean births reported symptoms of depression and were highest risk for PBT. Additionally adolescents delivering before 38 weeks reported lack of pain control and unsupportive caregivers in labor.
Clinical Implications: Healthcare professionals cognizant of the potential risk factors for PBT can help vulnerable adolescents through caregiver support, adequate pain control in labor, education, and screening and treatment of depressive symptoms. Follow-up postdischarge, especially for high-risk adolescents, should be arranged to monitor for continued, delayed, or remitting symptoms of depression and PBT.