Birth Trauma Resolution

Birth Trauma refers to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that occurs after childbirth and is also called Post Natal PTSD. Birth Trauma also applies to women who may not meet the clinical criteria for PTSD but have symptoms of the disorder.

Women who experience the following in pregnancy and birth may develop trauma:

  • An experience in pregnancy or during labor/delivery or postpartum recovery that involved the threat of death or serious injury to you or your baby
  • You felt intense fear, helplessness, or horror as a result of your experience
  • You re-experience the event by way of recurrent intrusive memories, flashbacks and nightmares
  • You feel anxious, distressed or panicky when you are reminded of the event
  • You begin to avoid anything that reminds you of the trauma
  • You experience disruption in your daily activities like eating, sleeping, and concentrating
  • You may feel angry, irritable, and be hyper-vigilant (feel jumpy or like you have to be on guard all the time)

Sometimes, women experience a life threatening medical event that triggers PTSD symptoms. Trauma symptoms can also develop when a woman has an experience (whether life threatening or not) that causes intense feelings of helplessness, loss of dignity, loss of control, and a sense of loss of humanity. This can occur when women feel ignored, not respected and that their rights have been violated when they are in a very vulnerable and intense situation. Post Natal PTSD can be a complicated combination of objective (type of delivery) and subjective (feelings associated with the experience) factors.

Risk factors for developing Post Natal PTSD include the following:

  • Lengthy labor or short and very painful labor
  • Induction
  • Poor pain relief
  • Feelings of loss of control
  • High levels of medical intervention
  • Traumatic or emergency deliveries, e.g. emergency caesarean section
  • Impersonal treatment or problems with the staff attitudes
  • Not being listened to
  • Lack of information or explanation
  • Lack of privacy and dignity
  • Fear for baby’s safety
  • Stillbirth
  • Birth of a baby who suffered damage (a disability resulting from birth trauma)
  • Baby’s stay in SCBU/NICU
  • Poor postnatal care
  • Previous trauma (for example, in childhood, with a previous birth or domestic violence

If you would like more information on Post Natal PTSD, please check out The Birth Trauma Association.

The Birth Trauma Association

Birth Trauma Association Facebook Group

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