Examining the association between subjective childbirth experience and maternal mental health at six months postpartum

Soledad Coo, María Ignacia García, Andrea Mira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Problem: Childbirth experience can have long-lasting effects on maternal wellbeing. Background: Positive childbirth experiences may strengthen maternal self-confidence, in contrast, negativeexperiences may promote a sense of failure or distrust. Aim: To examine the contribution of maternal hospital childbirth experience on mental health at 6 months postpartum in a community-based, Chilean sample. An additional aim is to examine which childbirth-related aspects contribute to the global birth experience. Methods: One hundred and forty-eight women completed self-report measures of mental health during the third trimester of pregnancy and 3 and 6 months postpartum. At 3months after childbirth, subjective childbirth experience was assessed. Logistic regression analysis examined the contribution of childbirth experience to maternal mental health. Findings: Negative subjective experience of childbirth contributes to maternal depression and anxiety up to 6 months after childbirth, controlling for mental health during pregnancy and at 3 months postpartum. Quality of care from health professionals made the largest, statistically significant contribution to the global perception of childbirth. Discussion and Conclusions: Subjective experience of childbirth is a modifiable risk factor for the development of postpartum maternal depression and anxiety. Health providers in direct contact with childbearing women may promote maternal emotional wellbeing through sensitive and respectful care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-288
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • anxiety disorders
  • childbirth
  • maternal health
  • Postpartum depression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • General Psychology
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology


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