Birth Trauma Awareness Week runs from July 1st – 8th and it is a chance to talk about birth trauma, to share stories and to feel less alone.
As fascinated and passionate about birth as I am, it is unpredictable, it can be scary and it can leave parents – birth partners as well as mums – feeling traumatised by what they experienced.
a deeply distressing or disturbing experience
I had a year of therapy after the birth of my third child – the birth itself was quick and straightforward but the delivery of the placenta was quite scary. I felt vulnerable, frightened and it did cross my mind – briefly – that I might die. I was in theatre without my husband, which made me anxious and emotional. My baby son was very poorly and needed surgery so he became my focus and I quickly recovered from the birth.
My son was very poorly – he had a heart defect as well as osophagheal atresia – he had his first surgery when he was 6 hours old. He died during his heart surgery when he was three days old.
Two years after my son died I started to become unwell with anxiety and panic attacks and I was referred for grief therapy. My therapist diagnosed PTSD, not just for what I had experienced in losing a child but also because of what I had experienced during the delivery of my placenta – my flashbacks took the form of being in stirrups and feeling anxious and scared as well as seeing my son for the first time after he died.
Therapy was hard but it helped to talk it through, to break it down, to understand where the trauma, anxiety and panic were coming from. My therapy also included EMDR treament, which reduced the trauma I experienced, eased the flashbacks and made them manageable. I also developed coping strategies to help me handle the flashbacks and any panic attacks or anxiety, which had eased considerably.
If you are feeling traumatised by the birth of your baby, if you are having flashbacks or you are feeling upset when you think and talk about it, seek some therapeutic support – you can be referred by your GP (although there can be long waiting lists) or you can access private therapy. If it is painful and stopping you from living your life, therapy could be the next step to help you recover and to function again.
You can also access your birth notes, which can be beneficial if you have questions and gaps in your memory about the birth if your baby but it can also be useful to go through these with a birth professional, who can answer your questions.
You might not feel traumatised by the birth of your baby but you might have questions and feel in need of talking it through with a birth professional, to make sense of it. This can also be important if you are planning another baby, or you might already be pregnant and getting ready for birth again.
This I can help with in a birth debrief session – and I think you would benefit from trauma therapy, I would recommend that you seek out that level of therapy.
If you have any queries, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Janine – a specialist in pregnancy, birth and parent support