A Guide to Birth Trauma

Posted on June 30th, 2024
A sad woman hugging her knees on the couch with a baby toy in the foreground

When we think of a traumatic event that can have a lasting emotional or physical effect on us, we think of wars, natural disasters, accidents, and other notoriously harmful things. Very rarely do we ever consider birth as one of these events.

This is because birth is often seen as a physically challenging event, but one that is superseded by happiness, joy, and overwhelming love at the arrival of a new baby. This isn’t always the case. Known as ‘birth trauma,’ a fair share of birthing mothers and partners of birthing parents suffer from trauma after the birth.

So, what is birth trauma? What causes it? What impact does it have? Let’s take a look at all of these below.

What is Birth Trauma? 

Birth trauma is an umbrella term that is used to describe the symptoms of anxiety, sadness, distress, and more that people feel after going through or witnessing a difficult and traumatic birth. If left untreated, this could eventually lead to a post-traumatic-syndrome diagnosis (PTSD). In fact, research suggests that 1 in 3 births are experienced as psychologically traumatic, and about 4% of women and 1% of their partners develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result.

Birth trauma is different for everyone, and two women who have had similar birth experiences could feel completely differently about them. A traumatic experience during birth can be physically and emotionally challenging and affects parents’ mental health and their everyday capabilities.

What causes birth trauma?

There is no one thing that causes birth trauma, but rather a range of scenarios, from the birth not going the way it was planned to stillbirths, miscarriages, and serious physical harm.

These are the most commonly associated scenarios in which parents develop birth trauma:

  • Injuries to the birthing parent: Damage to the parent during birth is one of the main causes of birth trauma for both the birthing parent and their partner. This can include things like perineal tears, nerve and muscle damage, pelvic organ prolapse, emergency C-sections, eclampsia, placental absorption, haemorrhaging after birth, and more.
  • When the baby is at risk: It’s hugely traumatic for parents to see their baby needing immediate medical attention or being whisked away right after birth. This is usually if a chord is wrapped around their neck, bruising or fracturing during birth, the use of forceps, nerve damage, brain injuries, and preterm babies that have to stay in the neonatal care unit.
  • Unexpected medical conditions: It can have a lasting impact on parents when doctors discover an unanticipated medical condition after birth.
  • Miscarriage and stillbirths: Of course, some of the most traumatic births are those where the baby doesn’t make it at all. Traumatic symptoms can last a long time after a mother has given birth to a baby who has already passed.

Symptoms of Birth Trauma

It’s not uncommon for birth trauma to evolve into postpartum depression (PPD) or postpartum trauma. These two conditions can overlap and those that have suffered a traumatic birthing experience are bound to see the symptoms of either of these conditions, or even both.

Some of the most common symptoms of PPD include:

  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Negative feelings about your ability to care for your child
  • Not eating
  • Insomnia
  • Suicidal thoughts

Common PTSD symptoms from birth trauma include:

  • Isolating and avoiding people, places, or situations associated with the trauma
  • Insomnia
  • Hyper-vigilance
  • Anxiety or panic attacks
  • Nightmares and flashbacks
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts

How to Deal With Birth Trauma

Whether you’re wrestling with just one of these symptoms or you’re struggling with many of them, the lingering effects of birth trauma can have a huge impact on your everyday life. Healing from birth trauma is possible; it’s a life-altering journey that will help you find self-love and resiliency.

The best thing that you can do to heal from birth trauma is to seek professional help. The Naked Birth Trauma Recovery team is on hand to help you every step of the way. We have designed a specially crafted program to help you navigate the psychological aftermath of birth trauma. With our experienced guides, you’ll receive a holistic plan that doesn’t just cover your emotional well-being but covers nutrition, daily routines, fitness, and spiritual well-being, too.

Birth trauma affects people from all walks of life, and these profound emotional wounds require specialized support. Naked Birth offers an understanding of the impact of birth trauma, and we work together to address your triggers and emotional and physical scars. We are committed to providing personalized support and guidance to help you rebuild your life after birth trauma.

Contact us to find out more.

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