What is PTSD and birth trauma?
You may develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) if you experience:
This is also called birth trauma. The impact of these experiences is often underestimated, as people may feel that the baby is adequate compensation for the trauma and that, as a new mother, you will soon forget it in the joy of motherhood.
However, a traumatic childbirth and developing PTSD can impair your relationship with both your baby and your partner. You may feel acute disappointment that childbirth was not the experience you were hoping for, and feel angry with the medical staff if you felt that the delivery wasn't handled well. If you develop PTSD, you're likely to also experience flashbacks or unwanted memories of the traumatic birth. This might mean that you feel anxious about having another baby. Here is what one mother said:
"I had a traumatic birth. I was so petrified that my son would die that in my head it was easier not to love him just in case."
What are the common signs and symptoms?
What are the treatments?
The treatments for PTSD are primarily talking therapies:
Medication is not normally offered to treat PTSD but, as it is common to also experience anxiety and depression to alongside PTSD, your doctor might offer you medication to treat this. Your doctor might also offer you medication to support you to feel more stable and able to care for your baby, or if there's a long wait for talking treatments in your area. See MIND's resources on 'Treatments for PTSD' for more information.
How can I help myself cope?
Coping with the after effects of a traumatic birth can feel very challenging, but there are some things you can do to help yourself cope:
Useful services & resources:
Your Rights in Childbirth
Birth Trauma Association
Birth Trauma Facebook page
Birth Trauma and PTSD information and support
NHS Choices PTSD Information
Baby Buddy App
Stillbirth and Neonatal Death (SANDS)