What Is Birth Trauma?
Birth trauma is a staggeringly high condition that is not discussed enough. Birth trauma affects 1 in 3 women and can have debilitating effects upon your mental health. Giving birth is meant to be one of the proudest and happiest moments of a woman’s life, so why is it that cases of birth trauma are on the rise? Birth trauma is an emotional state experienced by a woman during or after childbirth. You may have had typical labour. However, you are now finding yourself under stress, and psychological symptoms of birth trauma are arising. Symptoms of birth trauma can occur some time after giving birth, and you may not understand what you are experiencing.
During the time of birth, you may not have received the support and reassurance you needed to ease feelings of fear and helplessness – this could trigger early stages of anxiety, subsequently resulting in birth trauma. These feelings of anxiety can stay with you for longer than you may realise and can lead to panic attacks, anxiety and shock. In extreme cases, even PTSD.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, then you are not alone. Many women find childbirth emotionally traumatic, and whilst trauma cannot be prevented, there are steps you can take to reduce the effect of trauma on your life. Please keep reading to understand how you can best come to terms with birth trauma.
What contributes to birth trauma?
- Childbirth not living up to your expectations
- Experiencing labour complications
- Needing an assisted delivery or intervention during labour
- Either you or the baby suffering an injury
- Baby requiring medical attention
- Feeling neglected after birth
- Past experiences with birth trauma
- Anxious tendencies
Women who are particularly at risk of suffering from birth trauma may have experienced other forms of trauma earlier in life, such as domestic and sexual abuse. If you have experienced previous trauma in life and are worried this may impact your pregnancy/birth, please don’t hesitate to contact me today to discuss coping with trauma.
How to prevent birth trauma
Childbirth is highly unpredictable, and, consequently, this is why it can be hard to prevent birth trauma. However, here are some steps you can follow to reduce the likeliness of experiencing birth trauma:
- Prepare for childbirth: pregnancy classes are great ways of explaining your options and what to expect during labour.
- No birth is the same: there is no right way to give birth, and often, things are beyond your control.
- Establish a support network: Surround yourself with friends and family so that you feel supported and can take some time to relax before and after giving birth.
- Consult a therapist: if you already suffer from anxiety, depression, or previous trauma, therapy is a great way to prepare you for giving birth. Or, if you had a difficult birth and are now experiencing trauma, a therapist can help you get to the bottom of this so that you can start to heal.
After reading this blog, if you recognise that you may be experiencing birth trauma, it is essential to seek help as early as possible. This will benefit both you and your family during these times so that you can enjoy the wonders of motherhood without feeling overwhelmed. Whilst baby blues is a different condition from birth trauma; they can easily be confused. For example, if you are still feeling distressed and anxious two weeks after birth, you could be suffering from postnatal depression, which can be extremely damaging to both you as a mother and your child.
Speaking to a therapist about your birthing experience can be a great way to unpack and understand how it made you feel and any adverse effects it is still having on you. Sometimes your vision may be clouded, and you may not know why you feel distressed after birth. Speaking to a therapist will help you recover and develop coping strategies should you feel overwhelmed. While speaking to friends and family during these times is a great way to feel supported, they may sometimes not understand the help you truly need. A therapist is designed to be there for you during any difficulties and help you cope – the main thing is that how you are feeling is normal and valid. Do not let anyone convince you that your feelings are inadequate and unjustified. Trauma affects everyone differently; what may have felt like a small change to your birth for some could have been a huge change you weren’t prepared for.
If you are interested in speaking to a therapist either in the lead up to giving birth or after childbirth, please head over to my website at Liddy Carver. I am always here to listen and help you improve your mental wellbeing, whether that be through an in-person appointment or online, to fit in with your busy schedule. Looking after your mental wellbeing is just as important as looking after your baby; please remember that.