What is Birth Trauma?
By Kate Munden – Trauma Specialist
A traumatic birth is a childbirth experience that may cause a new mother to develop Post Traumatic Stress symptoms. Those who have experienced an overwhelming or traumatic birth can be clinically diagnosed with PTSD. However, many others will experience PTS symptoms without ever being clinically diagnosed. Many mothers mask or ignore symptoms as they and the family focus on the new baby.
PTSD can be described as “a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event.”
During childbirth, there are no particular criteria for challenging birth circumstances that will result in PTSD. Just as two plane passengers may experience turbulence differently, two women could experience the same type of birth but one develops postnatal PSTD while the other doesn’t. Trauma is complex and often in the eye of the beholder.
While there are many more instances that may lead to PTS symptoms, the most frequently reported instances are emergency caesarean, a lack of care, respect and compassion from caregivers, or the infant needing to go to Intensive Care.
If you have experienced birth trauma, know that you are not alone. About 45% of new mothers report that they have experienced a traumatic birth. The following is a non-exhaustive list of the signs and symptoms of post-natal PTSD as stated by Mind.
● Excessive tearfulness or feeling very numb and disconnected
● Reliving the event through flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, or nightmares
● Intense distress at reminders of the trauma
● Alertness or feeling on edge causing irritability, feelings of anger, difficulty concentrating, or difficulty sleeping
● Avoiding feelings or being unable to remember details of what happened
● Overwhelming feelings of anger, sadness, guilt, or shame
● Feeling unsafe or like you can’t trust anyone