Postpartum post-traumatic stress symptoms during the COVID-19 period: exposure and fear as mediating factors

Noga Shiffman, Hadar Gluska, Shiri Margalit, Yael Mayer, Rawan Daher, Lior Elyasyan, Nofar Elia, Maya Sharon Weiner, Hadas Miremberg, Michal Kovo, Tal Biron-Shental, Rinat Gabbay-Benziv, Liat Helpman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) following childbirth are common within a stressful environment and are mitigated by social support. During the COVID-19 pandemic, an increase in such symptoms has been reported. The current study aims to longitudinally model the influence of general and pandemic-specific risk and protective factors on the temporal unfolding of symptoms among postpartum women. Methods: Participants were 226 women following a liveborn, term birth during the first lockdown in Israel. Participants completed questionnaires 10 weeks (T1) and 6 months (T2) after delivery. PATH analyses included predictors of symptoms in T1: demographics, exposure to traumatic events, medical complications during delivery or pregnancy, exposure to COVID-19-related events and their subjective impact, fear of COVID-19, and social support. Predictors of symptoms in T2 were: T1 predictors, both as direct effects and mediated by T1 PTSS, as well as predictors measured again in T2. Results: Results showed the suggested model fit the data. The effect of COVID-19-related fear and subjective impact at T1 on symptoms at T2 were fully mediated by PTSS in T1, as were the effects of marriage and high social support at T1. COVID-19-related fear at T2 positively predicted symptoms at T2, while social support at T2 had the opposite effect. Medical complications during pregnancy negatively predicted symptoms in T2 only. Discussion: Persistent fear appears to be a risk factor and supports a consistent buffer in postpartum PTSS during the COVID-19 pandemic. Medical complications during pregnancy served as a protective factor, possibly due to habituation to medical settings.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2228151
JournalEuropean Journal of Psychotraumatology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Birth
  • COVID-19
  • PTSD
  • PTSS
  • structural equation modelling
  • trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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