Date of Submission


Degree Type


Department Chair

Stephanie Felgoise, PhD, ABPP

First Advisor

Stephanie Felgoise, PhD, ABPP

Second Advisor

Susan Panichelli Mindel, PhD

Third Advisor

Lindsay Sortor, PsyD


The postpartum period can be a time of significant change and transition. Little is known about how a history of trauma may impact functioning during this critical time. English-speaking adult women (age ≥ 18 years, N = 61) who gave birth in the United States in the past year, but not in the last month, were in an intimate relationship, and did not use any assisted reproductive technology to conceive participated in the study. Participants were recruited through social media and online forums related to pregnancy and the postpartum period. They completed a demographic questionnaire, the PTSD Checklist for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-Fifth Edition, the Body Attitude Questionnaire, the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, and the Couples Satisfaction Index. It was hypothesized that postpartum women who endorsed a history of trauma would report significantly greater body image concerns and depressions levels and lower relationship satisfaction than postpartum women who did not endorse a history of trauma. In postpartum women with a history of trauma, greater posttraumatic stress symptoms were hypothesized to be associated with greater body image concerns and depression levels and lower relationship satisfaction. Descriptive statistics explored levels of body image concerns, depression levels, and relationship satisfaction in postpartum women who endorsed a history of sexual trauma. The results were intended to clarify conceptualizations of trauma and, therefore, inform treatment strategies and trauma-informed postpartum care. The results of the study did not support the hypotheses and often conflicted with previous research. Although the postpartum period can be difficult for many women, these findings suggest that there are many aspects of new motherhood that are protective and healing.