Birth Trauma & ptsd
Following the birth of a baby it is normal for hormones to reduce and at day 3 you may feel low in mood and be suffering with ‘baby blues’. However, sometimes women have an experience during childbirth which is traumatic, and may be as a result of something that you witnessed, you heard or that has happened to you, which can result in birth trauma. Symptoms can be so severe that some women (approximately 6%) are diagnosed with traumatic stress after childbirth, also known as PTSD.
Post Natal Depression (PND) symptoms include:
- a persistent feeling of sadness and low mood
- loss of interest or pleasure in the things you would usually enjoy.
- lack of energy and feeling tired all the time
- trouble sleeping at night and feeling sleepy during the day
- feeling that you’re unable to look after your baby
- problems concentrating and making decisions
- loss of appetite or an increased appetite (comfort eating)
- feeling agitated, irritable or very apathetic (i.e. “you can’t be bothered”)
- feelings of guilt, hopelessness and self-blame
- difficulty bonding with your baby with a feeling of indifference and no sense of enjoyment in their company
- frightening thoughts – for example, about hurting your baby; these can be scary, but they’re very rarely acted upon or thinking about suicide and self-harm
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) resulting from Birth Trauma
- flashbacks to the birth or reliving parts of the experience
- nightmares including being scared to go to sleep
- avoiding anything you may associate with your birth trauma
- intrusive thoughts that you can’t control
- hypervigilance – being constantly alert with an increased startle response
- Panic Attacks
- Tokophobia – fear of childbirth
- Arousal – angry outbursts, irritability
Birth Trauma is real (and an issue which few healthcare professionals know how to deal appropriately with) and unfortunately it is suggested that a further 20 – 25% of women have symptoms that go undiagnosed. This is particularly the case if they don’t meet the full criteria for PTSD and women are mistakenly diagnosed as having post-natal depression, PND. Those who suffer from birth trauma may be prescribed anti-depressants, but this may mask the problem and never treats the trauma. However, you should never stop taking medication without discussion and advice from the prescriber.
Many women are too scared to own up to how they really feel, for fear that their baby will be taken away from them. Many women will report still going through the motions of motherhood, but with a feeling of disconnect from the baby and a lack of the normal feelings of love. They may become overly anxious about their baby’s safety – hypervigilant. Feeling intense feelings of anxiety that something terrible is going to happen to their baby, constantly on the lookout for danger. Alternatively, they may think of ways to leave their baby safely with someone, reject their baby, or have feelings of wanting to harm the baby or end their own lives. Owning up to such feelings then becomes a hugely guarded secret, increasing feelings of isolation, that so often accompany symptoms of PTSD. They may feel pressure to keep quiet about it as partners urge them to stop going on about it, triggered by their own feelings of being unable to help.
Unhelpful advice which suffers may receive includes:
‘Can’t you put it behind you and be thankful that you have a healthy baby’
‘You were far too unrealistic about giving birth, you expected too much‘
‘It’s over now, you have such a beautiful baby, you need to forget about it and get on with your life and enjoy being a mother.’
I have worked with many clients who have suffered with years of trauma. They have wanted to support their daughter’s or other female family members in welcoming their new additions as birth partners. I have supported women through trauma so they can and do have more children. If you feel you would like confidential support which is quick and effective please get in touch.
birth Trauma Treatment
If you are a woman who has experienced birth trauma or PTSD symptoms, or if you have been a birthing partner who has witnessed your loved one going through birth trauma, this is for you.
We will work together and develop a treatment plan which gently, safely and effectively alleviates your symptoms so you able to move forward with your life and feel positive about the future as well as being able to plan your next baby if you so wish.
Birth Trauma Treatment – professionals
Healthcare workers may suffer with Vicarious trauma or a one-off episode of trauma. I have worked with health care professionals who suffer with PTSD and flashbacks from carrying out their daily job and which now impacts their life so that they can’t work. If you would like to move forward and free yourself from the situation that is impacting your life book this treatment.