Perspectives on trauma-informed care from mothers with a history of childhood maltreatment: a qualitative study. Academic Article uri icon


  • Women who experienced abuse or neglect as children are more likely to have health problems during pregnancy and postpartum, but can be reluctant to seek help due to a lack of trauma-informed services. As part of a larger mixed method study, this component aimed to obtain qualitative data from trauma-exposed new mothers about their health care preferences during the perinatal period with the ultimate goal to design personalized, supportive interventions. Fifty-two trauma-exposed mothers completed a semi-structured interview at seven months postpartum about health care preferences including ideas for programs that promote wellness, thoughts about the influences of being a new mother and possible names for a program serving trauma-exposed mothers. Interviews were transcribed and coded using N-Vivo. Participants described ambivalence about seeking help but also a sincere desire for healing, coupled with hope for the future. This tension was apparent in the discussions highlighting the importance of access to experienced, nonjudgmental, and knowledgeable health and social care staff and volunteers, the wish for both formal, integrated physical and mental health services, and for informal opportunities to meet other trauma-exposed mothers in a non-stigmatizing, child-friendly setting. Finally, positive relationship-building, respect, and safety were identified as key elements of services critical to counteract trauma-related shame and mistrust in others. Services for trauma-exposed mothers should acknowledge the normal ambivalence surrounding seeking help, but promote hope-affirming practices in a family-centered, safe, non-clinical setting that involves children, builds social support, and provides peer interaction. Program names should reflect optimism and healing rather than trauma.Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

publication date

  • December 2013