Birth Trauma – Finding Ways to Heal
Birth Trauma or PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) that occurs after childbirth is an increasing problem across the world.
For the women and their partners that it affects, they can experience childbirth in such a negative way that it impacts them beyond anything that they had prepared for antenatally. Many will watch their worst fears come true as their birth plan goes out the window and a nightmare birth scenario unfolds before their very eyes.
For some couples they may not realise they have suffered a trauma until some time has passed and life with their new baby has settled down. For others, their experience during childbirth was so awful that they decide to simply not have any more children.
The vast majority however will only realise the extent of their birth trauma after becoming pregnant again with another baby – this in itself can be the trigger that sets it off.
Common situations that can lead to Birth trauma include:
•Lengthy labour or short and very painful labour
•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 staff attitudes
•Not being listened to
•Lack of information or explanation
•Lack of privacy and dignity
•Fear for baby’s safety
•Birth of a damaged baby (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)
Characteristic features of PTSD, following a trauma:
•Persistent re-experiencing of the event by way of recurrent intrusive memories, flashbacks and nightmares. You may feel distressed, anxious or panicky when exposed to things which remind you of the event.
•Extreme feelings of helplessness or hopelessness.
•A response of intense fear or horror to that experience.
•If you avoid anything that reminds you of the trauma. This can include talking about it.
•Alternatively you may find yourself obsessing about it and talking all the time without it feeling resolved.
•Reminders or memories of the trauma, may result in difficulties with sleeping and concentrating. Sufferers may also feel angry, irritable and be hyper vigilant (feel jumpy or on their guard all the time). Source: The Breakthrough Project & The Birth trauma association
PTSD and the effects it can have on families, is all too familiar for Amanda Wanowski, who runs an organisation called The Breakthrough Project.
She helps families or individuals who are experiencing the effects of PTSD to overcome their symptoms. After an initial consultation, Amanda will provide you with a range of skills to help you to bring about change and can help you to move on by “transforming trauma to triumph”.
She explains:- “PTSD is not a Mental Health condition, it is a completely normal response to an absolutely abnormal and extreme situation/experience”
Her support is accessible to anyone as Amanda can reach families across the world with her incredible service and online support.
It may be particularly helpful for you to reach out if you have not felt safe to speak of your feelings, especially if others perceive your birth experience to be “no big deal”. Maybe it is your partner that is the one you have noticed who is struggling to come to terms with what they experienced during the birth of your child, and could benefit from someone to talk to.
If you would like more information contact Amanda at The Breakthrough Project