There is no one thing that defines birth trauma but experiencing a difficult or traumatic childbirth can really affect you. This can range from distress and overwhelm to symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder. Approximately 40% of people feel their birth was traumatic or disappointing in some way, with a small percentage of those people developing PTSD.
What may contribute:-
- Feelings of helplessness or lack of control - High medical intervention - Not feeling heard or cared for - Fear for your or your baby’s safety - Emergency delivery - Long or very fast labour - Feeling as if no one communicated with you
What you may experience:-
- Anxiety or depression - Flashbacks, nightmares, dreams of the event - Sleep problems - Guilt, anger, sadness or panic - Not being able to remember parts of the birth - Re-playing the birth over in your mind or blocking it out completely - Avoiding the baby - Negative beliefs about self as a mother - Difficulty with intimacy or medical procedures
What to do:-
- SELFCARE – ask for help, sleep when possible, nurture yourself and find a community that is supportive - Talk to a therapist who has knowledge in the area of childbirth or trauma - EMDR therapy or birth story listening is helpful for birth trauma - Tell your story in a way that is comfortable, you do not need to provide details to everyone who asks