Almost 20% of women experience trauma during birth, according to a recent study carried out at a Dublin maternity hospital. The study included 1,154 women who gave birth at the rotunda hospital was carried out by midwife and researcher Ursula Nagle. There is no clear definition of what constitutes a traumatic birth experience. Many women mention experience symptoms ofPTSD following birth but might not recognise these symptoms as trauma. But what is clear is that the women’s perception of events and how they are feeling following the birth is the clearest indicator of birth trauma, regardless of how the birth played out. Some women will seek help from medical professionals but because birth trauma often leads to depression, may be prescribed anti-depressants. However, it is important for new mothers to recognize the signs of birth trauma which can include anxiety, nightmares, flashbacks, and avoidance of anything associated with the birth. The symptoms of depression and PTSD can overlap sometimes leading to a misdiagnosis. Mental health professionals are available to help women suffering from birth trauma, and it is important to seek help if needed.
Guilt and Blame, far reaching consequences.
In Ireland we have cultivated a culture of glossing over difficult birth experiences. The adage that "all that matters is a healthy baby" and "didn't we all go through it" rolls of the tongue and totally dismisses the experience and does not allow the woman to express their distress, fear and hurt. Women are essentially being told that they are not entitled to their experiences of birth and are expected to suppress their emotions, move on and forget it.
Many women are further traumatised following birth by the lack of care they receive postnatally both in hospital and in the community.
Inappropriate screening and lack of aftercare coupled with the women's feelings of shame and guilt can often lead to the woman hiding her true emotions around the birth and lead to years of trauma and agony.
Nobody wants to remember their birth experience as a scary event. But unfortunately for many people that’s exactly what it feels like. Sometimes even births that would be considered by society as a normal birth may have been traumatising.
Traumatic events around birth can leave long-lasting wounds, the effects of which can impact on other facets of their lives, bonding with baby, high levels of anxiety, relationship issues, decisions to have another baby or not.
Do you think you or someone you know may be suffering from Birth Trauma?
Click here to go through a questionnaire designed to see if you are suffering from birth trauma.
You can print this questionnaire off and take it to your GP or midwife.
Alternatively, for fast, effective and safe treatment by a BTR therapy practitioner click here to find a therapist near you.