traumatic birth, birth trauma, ptsd, postpartum mood disorders

Traumatic Birth, PTSD, and Healing

During the birth, certain complications and events may occur causing birth trauma and making the experience seem traumatic and negative. This can easily lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Birthing individuals are more likely to get Post Traumatic Stress Disorder if they have an emergency caesarean or assisted delivery using forceps. However, individuals who have a vaginal birth are still at risk of a traumatic birth.

Other stressful aspects of birth, such as blood loss, a long labor, a high level of pain, or a large number of various interventions can also potentially create a negative birth experience as well.

In addition, individuals who feel out of control during birth, or who feel they have poor care and support from midwives and doctors may feel like their birth was negative or traumatic.

If an individual overwhelmed by the experience copes by dissociating, or feeling like they are mentally not there anymore (having an out-of-body experience), they will be at higher risk of PTSD.

In addition, breastfeeding can be adversely impacted by traumatic birth experiences. According to Grajeda & Perez-Escamilla, severe stress during labor can delay lactogenesis by as much as several days. It is important to recognize that this can happen, and work with the individual to develop a plan to counter it.

Some strategies for this include: increasing skin-to-skin contact (if they can tolerate it), and/or possibly beginning a pumping regimen until lactogenesis has begun. The individual may also need to briefly supplement; however, that will not be necessary in all cases.

An individual may also revisit images of labor and birth, giving them fear of birth in the future when they try to birth another child. A traumatic birth experience can cause lack of interest in sex with one’s partner, feelings of inadequacy, or poor self-image.

All of these symptoms of PTSD can be met head-on by meeting with a counselor specifically trained in PTSD counseling and postpartum mood disorders. By having a counselor with training in both areas, you’ll be able to see a faster recovery time.

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