Birth Trauma: a form of PTSD

Many people see labour as the means to an end, as long as baby is born healthy and mum is ok then all is well. But is it?

So many people announce the arrival of their child with “Mum and baby are doing well”.

It’s a blanket statement and too often implies that mum’s physical health is well, and she is recovering as expected from birth. But what about her mental health what’s the litmus test to ensure that all is well there?

Imagine if we spent as much time making a postpartum mental health checklist as we do a hospital bag checklist?

We’ve all heard of postnatal depression and a painful 15% of women experience some form of postnatal depression or anxiety. This can be caused by a variety of reasons, but a staggering number of women are now able to trance their trigger all the way back to the birth.

Birth Trauma is a form of PTSD and according to the Birth Trauma Association over 30,000 women a year in the UK experience it.

Often those women who are diagnosed with Birth Trauma don’t cite the diversions from her birth plan as the reason, more the lack of control and awareness she felt to the decisions made often to her and not with her in regard to her labour experience.

Creating a birth plan and taking birth classes offers women a way to feel prepared for labour so that no matter how you choose to birth and whether those choices become reality, you are able to find empowerment within all aspects of your birth.

A positive birth means a birth in which a woman feels she has freedom of choice, access to accurate information, and that she is in control, powerful and respected. A birth that she approaches, perhaps with some trepidation, but without fear or dread, and that she then goes on to enjoy, and later remember with warmth and pride.

A positive birth does not have to be ‘natural’ or without interventions. Many women who have long, medically induced and even medical interventions such as emergency caesarean sections can still reflect on their birth as positive – it simply has to be informed from a place of positivity as opposed to fear.

The elements that need to be in place:

  • Women are where they want to be
  • Choices are informed by reality not fear
  • Women are listened to and treated with respect and dignity
  • Mothers are empowered and enriched
  • Memories are warm and proud

If you think you have suffered from Birth trauma or are eager to put that birth and postpartum mental health checklist in place, then there are amazing support systems:

  • Hiring a birth doula is shown to not only reduce labour times by up to 2 hours but reduce the likelihood of interventions by up to 50%
  • Postnatal doulas work with you in creating a perinatal checklist and plan for after birth. They are on hand support for you in those vital few weeks and can guide you through your physical recovering, support in breastfeeding and even with light housework duties.
  • Hypnobirthing antenatal classes provide you with invaluable birth education so that you can feel empowered and informed in all your birth choices.
  • The Birth Trauma Association is a charity designed to support women and their partners through their recovery and is an excellent resource.

By Ellie Dearden

 

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