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Birth Trauma

What is it?

How do I know I have experienced it?

But my baby and I are okay... is this all that matters?

Birth trauma is something rarely talked about, although is something many parents go through within the process of pregnancy into labour and birth.  

This can consist of:

  • A small change in your birth plan that you never intended to happen

  • An emergency c-section

  • Feeling powerless in your experience

  • Near death experience

  • Infant loss

  • Early child labour

  • Unsupportive or abusive birthing professionals

  • Helplessness

  • Overt pain

  • Essentially any instance throughout the experience of labour and birth that feels uncomfortable or difficult to process.

If something feels off or wrong about your labour and birth experience, you may have experienced birth trauma.  There is no threshold for what you endured to constitute whether it was trauma or not.  This is about how you experienced your birth and how you feel about it now.  

The trauma you experienced is important no matter the outcome of you, your partner, and your child.

Perinatal Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Individuals who have experienced birth trauma may meet the criteria for Perinatal PTSD.  The symptomology of Perinatal PTSD following a traumatic event for more than one month after include:

  • flashbacks, nightmares, distressing memories, body pain

  • withdraw from social relationships, denial, avoidance, holding emotions in, indifference

  • guilt, hopelessness, unrealistic blame of self, lack of interest in activities, depressed mood, irritable behavior

  • negative sleep patterns, aggression, lack of concentration, and hypervigilance

In most cases of perinatal PTSD, there are many different consequences including:

  • Lack of bonding with baby

  • Difficulty breastfeeding

  • Intimacy struggles

  • Avoidance of future pregnancy

  • PTSD in partner

  • Elective c-sections in future pregnancies

  • Yearly exacerbation of struggles on anniversary of the traumatic birth.

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