Childbirth and the experiences directly before and after the birth can sometimes be traumatic for the mother. The birth can also have an effect on the mother’s partner who will have witnessed the birth. Mothers who experience their birth as traumatic will often be effected for some time afterwards and may go on to develop PTSD. Sometimes it takes time for the symptoms to develop. Mothers with birth trauma may experience flashbacks and nightmares about the birth over which they feel they have no control. Other symptoms may include the following (taken from the Birth Trauma Association):
- An experience involving the threat of death or serious injury to an individual or another person close to them (e.g. their baby).
- A response of intense fear, helplessness or horror to that experience.
- The persistent re-experiencing of the event by way of recurrent intrusive memories, flashbacks and nightmares. The individual will usually feel distressed, anxious or panicky when exposed to things which remind them of the event.
- Avoidance of anything that reminds them of the trauma. This can include talking about it, although sometimes women may go through a stage of talking of their traumatic experience a lot so that it obsesses them at times.
- Bad memories and the need to avoid any reminders of the trauma, will often 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).
All these are normal responses to a threatening event.
Mothers who have experienced their birth as traumatic will need careful support so that they can come to terms with and make sense of their experiences. Mothers will not need to talk directly about the actual birth in detail as this can be re-traumatizing. Mothers who have experienced birth trauma can contact me directly for an appointment.