Trauma lives inside our body; it’s how our body and our brain react to an event (or accumulation of situations) that leaves us in distress. Trauma occurs when we lacked emotional and/or physical protection.
Birth trauma happens during or after giving birth, but anything distressing that happens during your reproductive journey can lead to trauma.
Birth trauma can happen while giving birth, where the birth was less than ideal, where we or the baby had a near death experience, where there were medical complications, and where we were left feeling confused and afraid of what was going on. Medical complications are not a prerequisite to birth trauma.
Birth trauma can also happen after giving birth, depending on the medical care/interventions you needed (if you had complications after an emergency c-section or your baby stayed in the NICU) and how your body reacted. It is not uncommon to feel emotional distress as you gain new information about what happened while you were giving birth.
Any distressing event (or accumulation of situations) during your reproductive journey can lead to trauma. Infertility, pregnancy and infant loss, racism, homophobia, transphobia, and ageism (to name a few) can lead to trauma during your reproductive journey.
It’s important to note that partners of the person giving birth can also be impacted by birth trauma. Your partner has seen you and baby go through so much – your partner had to keep it together and be strong for you, but they need to be taken care of too.
New moms (birthing persons and their partners) with birth trauma often show symptoms of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).
What are the Symptoms of PTSD?
- Thoughts that cause distress – Thinking about what happened over and over again, you feel as if you are going through what happened at odd times during the day (flashbacks), intense nightmares, something or someone reminding you of the event causes intense emotional and/or physical distress (you have triggers).
- Feeling like you can’t think about what happened – You try to completely avoid the topic of what happened, including places/people/things that remind you of the event.
- Changes in mood and personality – Hopelessness, negative perception of yourself, difficulties with memory, loss of interest in things you used to enjoy, numbness, difficulties in relationships, moments of detachment from yourself (dissociation).
- Changes in behaviour – Hypervigilance, self-medicating (using drugs or alcohol to cope with intense feelings of distress), irritability, and difficulties sleeping.
Therapy for birth trauma is available in Ottawa and everywhere in Ontario (virtually) with me. Help is here, contact me for a free consultation. Let’s get you to a place of healing.