Birth trauma can be a very personal experience, and it’s different for everyone. It is defined as “the emergence of a baby from its mother in a way that involves events or care that cause deep distress or psychological disturbance, which may or may not involve physical injury, but resulting in psychological distress of an enduring nature.” (Baxter, 2014).
In other words, if your birth caused you emotional or psychological distress that lasted beyond the event of the birth, then you may have birth trauma. Most birth people affected by birth trauma feel like they lost their sense of control.
Causes of Birth Trauma
Some events that may cause birth trauma include:
- Prolonged induction of labor
- Very quick and painful labor and birth
- Poor pain relief
- Medical interventions such as Pitocin, epidural, forceps
- Emergency cesarean section
- Knowledge deficit (“no one told me what was going on-things were done to me without my consent”)
- Fear that something bad would happen to baby
- History of previous trauma
- NICU stay for baby
- Not feeling heard
- Feeling loss of control
In the Aftermath of Birth Trauma
Birth trauma can lead to emotional distress ranging from mild distress to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Those suffering from birth trauma may experience difficulty controlling emotions, as well as feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt, or failure related to the birth experience. It may affect how you bond with your baby or partner. Some also experience nightmares, intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, and sleep problems. The fear can be disruptive to their daily lives.
Many birth people who experience birth trauma feel guilty for not appreciating a “healthy mom, healthy baby” mentality. Most feel like they should be able to just get over it. Messaging from family and friends can often mimic this fear. Many sufferers of birth trauma feel stuck and have difficulty moving on from the event. They may feel that they almost died and can’t fathom having another child. They may be afraid to risk future pregnancies for fear that their trauma will occur again. The fear and anxiety often feel as if it will never go away.
Help After Birth Trauma
If you experienced a traumatic birth, realize you are not alone and you can get better. Rivia Mind has a team of experts who can help you recover from birth trauma.
Contact us today to learn more or to schedule a free 15 minute consultation.
Learn more about our Women’s & Reproductive Mental Health Services.
Also, find out more about our Pregnancy & Postpartum Support Group.