Updated: Jun 7, 2019
Not every C-section is traumatic. Not every birth is difficult. What is normal and expected for one person might be troublesome and painful for another. There are many births both vaginal and Cesarean that leave a mother and/or birth partner struggling with trauma or PTSD. This blog will talk more about how to heal and cope from that trauma. It is common for mothers to underestimate trauma because they are in the postpartum period. If you ever feel that you are emotionally struggling from trauma don’t ever hesitate to talk with someone or use one of the resources inked below.
What Causes Birth Trauma?
There are many things that can play into what makes a birth traumatic for a birthing woman. Some of those things include:
Sudden changes in plans or expectations
Pain medication not working
The duration of labor
The outcome of the birth
Feeling out of control of the things that are going on
Little or no communication between staff and mother/partner
Obstetric Violence or abuse from other providers
Where to Go for Help
There are many resources available to women who are suffering from birth trauma or PTSD. First and foremost, if you are feeling like hurting yourself or others, please text the crisis hotline they can help you immediately and then connect you to resources local to you for additional support. We believe in you. We love you. We hear you. There is light after this darkness.
Other valuable resources are listed here:Birth Trauma Truth BlogThe authors of this blog run Birthtalk.org, and specialize in support, understanding and tools for healing from birth trauma, birth grief, and birth disappointment. Birth Trauma AssociationThe Birth Trauma Association (BTA) was established to support women suffering from Postnatal Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or birth trauma. They are not trained counselors or therapists or medical professionals. They are mothers who wish to support other women who have suffered difficult births and aim to offer advice and support to all women who are finding it hard to cope with their childbirth experience. Postpartum Support InternationalThe purpose of Postpartum Support International is to increase awareness among public and professional communities about the emotional changes that women experience during pregnancy and postpartum. Approximately 15% of all women will experience postpartum depression following the birth of a child. Up to 10% will experience depression or anxiety during pregnancy. When the mental health of the mother is compromised, it affects the entire family. Solace For MothersSolace for Mothers is an organization designed for the sole purpose of providing and creating support for women who have experienced childbirth as traumatic. Traumatic symptoms resulting from childbearing experiences are real and can even result from a seemingly “normal” birth experience. The resources available through this site offer immediate, personal support to mothers and others who are struggling with birth trauma.
How to Heal a Bad Birth
We would like to thank Debby Gould for contacting us and telling us about her book “How to Heal a Bad Birth” It was written by Melissa Bruijn and Debby Gould and covers all the topics listed above and more. They go over many valuable things to help any woman heal from birth trauma. The entire book is filled with facts and insights about birth trauma and PTSD including how to recognize if you are suffering from birth trauma and how to know who to turn to if you’re feeling like you may be suffering from PTSD. It offers suggestions on how to deal with sadness, guilt, feelings of failure or even anger. It also addresses trauma experienced by the birth partner and/or other parents and how to help them heal even when you still may need help.
This book is one of the best resources we have found to assist women who need to heal from any aspect of birth trauma.
More About the Authors
Melissa is the author and founder of birthtalk.org. After her first birth, a traumatic experience that ended in a caesarean, Melissa slowly realized that she was not ‘ok’…and found that few people understood what she was going through. Debby, her sister-in-law was a midwifery student at the time, planting various ‘seeds’ and provided a shoulder to cry on, but it took another two and a half years until Melissa realized how heavily her birth had impacted upon her…and that she was not the only one. Melissa has since had two VBAC’s and they were both really great experiences.
Melissa is a co-founder of the Caesarean Awareness Network Australia (CANA). She has written articles for Birth Trauma Truths, Birthtalk.org’s blog, and recently co-wrote with Debby, a chapter about Birth Trauma, in Birth Journeys – a new book sharing a series of women’s stories, with insights from various birth experts.
Her and Debby have put everything they learned into this amazing book. In January of 2018 they were awarded a Lord Mayors Australia Day Achievement Award for their work in the community and beyond supporting women, men, and families.
Check out episode 22 on our podcast for a story about Diana who used this book as part of her healing process from a traumatic C-section who went on to have a successful VBAC.
The mind is a powerful birth tool and can affect so many things in the body. Download our free fear release activity to use to clear your mind and release your fears for birth.