Longitudinal Relations Between Childhood Maltreatment, Maltreatment-Specific Shame, and Postpartum Psychopathology

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The persistence of shame-based reactions to child maltreatment (CM) has been associated with poor posttraumatic adjustment. Despite evidence that the postpartum period is a vulnerable time for women with CM histories, little is known about the consequences of maltreatment-specific (MS) shame for postpartum functioning. The current study examined individual differences in MS shame among a sample of women during the postpartum period (n = 100) as well as prospective relations from MS shame to postpartum psychopathology at 6-, 12-, 15-, and 18-month postpartum. Linear growth curve (LGC) analyses showed that MS shame predicted higher levels of depression symptoms but not post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms at all time points whereas path analyses showed that shame mediated the relations from multi-maltreatment to both depression and PTSD symptoms at all time points. Results point to the long-term consequences of MS shame during postpartum and the importance of attending to shame in clinical care of maltreatment survivors who present with postpartum psychopathology.