Background: Research indicates that Black women are more likely to be victims of serious violent crimes, and have higher exposure to chronic stress, than all other racial groups of women (Harrell, 2011). Following these experiences, people often exhibit depressed mood, which can be identified through negative talking patterns (Beck et al., 1987). Given this high risk for experiencing trauma and chronic stress, we examined trauma exposure and the use and frequency of negative self talk in a sample of Black pregnant and postpartum women. Methods: We collected data from 26 low- income, Black pregnant and postpartum women. Six focus groups were conducted with 13 open-ended questions. The audio of each session was transcribed and then coded for participant endorsement of trauma, the specific type of trauma endorsed (e.g. sexual, physical injury, or death), and the use and frequency of negative self talk. To analyze our data, we conducted an Independent Samples T-Test and a linear regression. Results: Our results indicated that 26.9% of participants explicitly endorsed traumatic events. The most common trauma was serious injury. Also, 92.3% of participants used negative self talk, with the average frequency being two sentences. There was no significant difference in the use or frequency of negative self talk in the group that did endorse experiencing trauma and the group that didn’t. Conclusion: Although the analyses weren’t significant, it’s clear that Black pregnant and postpartum women endure a lot, as many participants endorsed traumatic experiences and used negative self talk.
Due to Black women having a high risk for experiencing trauma and chronic stress, we examined trauma exposure and the use and frequency of negative self talk in an existing sample of urban, low to no income, Black pregnant and postpartum women. It was found that traumatic experiences do not predict the use or frequency of negative self talk; however, our results do show that many of these women are exposed to difficult traumatic experiences and hold negative self views of themselves. With 26.9% of focus group participants experiencing or witnessing traumatic events, and 92.3% of women using negative self talk throughout the discussions in at least one sentence, it’s clear that traumatic experiences and negative self talk are prevalent amongst this population.