How do memory processes relate to the development of posttraumatic stress symptoms following childbirth?
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Some women develop posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) following childbirth but little is known about memory processes following childbirth. Models of traumatic memory debate the role of memory disorganization. This study investigates whether there is an association between memory disorganization and PTSS in new mothers. One hundred and twenty-two women were recruited within 72 h of giving birth, completing measures of cognitive and emotional experience, and analgesia, and a narrative account of the birth. 68 of these women responded to a six-week follow-up and completed measures of memory disorganization and PTSS. There was a relationship between memory disorganization and PTSS at follow-up, but not at recruitment. The organization of the immediate narrative may not distinguish between those who later do or do not develop symptoms. Emotional evaluation may be the key factor in facilitating or inhibiting the memory construction process, linking memory to subsequent disorganization and hence to symptoms. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.