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Are you or someone you know experiencing trauma related to a birth?
As many as 18% of all women experience trauma related to childbirth, one third of whom experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Yet despite its widespread nature, the experience of birth-related trauma can be an isolating one, as mothers are encouraged to focus on their babies and quickly “get over” their birth experience. Trauma can affect a mother - and a partner’s - ability to connect with their baby, carry out normal activities, and can also impair breastfeeding.
Fortunately there are some good resources available to mothers who are experiencing birth-related trauma, which we are happy to share below. But first, some common questions about birth-related trauma.
Do you have PTSD related to your birth? Here are some common characteristic features, according to the Birth Trauma Association:
What are some common triggers for birth-related PTSD? Again, according to the Birth Trauma Association:
What are some resources for help for mothers and partners experiencing birth-related PTSD?
Connect with other moms. Connecting with other moms helps you see that you’re not alone. There are a number of online communities for mothers experiencing birth-related trauma, including Solace for Mothers, Birth Trauma Association’s Facebook page, and Baby Center.
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy is considered by trauma experts, including the U.S. Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense and the American Psychological Association, to be a front line treatment for PTSD. EMDR involves thinking about the traumatic experience while experiencing a stimulus engaging both sides of your perception. This might mean moving your eyes back and forth, listening to a tapping sound in alternating ears, or feeling a tapping on alternating knees. EMDR typically reduces symptoms after just a few sessions. To find a certified EMDR professional, see the EMDR Institute or the EMDR International Association.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a form of therapy which addresses beliefs caused by trauma and helps to counter conditioned-fear responses related to the traumatic experience. To find a CBT therapist, search the websites of the National Association of Cognitive Behavioral Therapist’s or the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies.
Medications. You may want to discuss medication options with your healthcare provider. A summary of medication options is provided here.
Care for partners. Partners can experience trauma related to childbirth as well. Encourage partners to seek help if they are experiencing trauma.
Postpartum Support International
An app called PTSD Coach, developed by the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense
HelpGuide, and the National Center for PTSD