Identifying and Recovering From a Traumatic Birth

Around one-third of women have gone through a traumatic birth experience. Trauma can occur for a variety of reasons, including a birth injury to the baby or mother. But, physical trauma is not the only type of trauma.

If you’ve been through a negative experience when giving birth, you may be more likely to develop mental health issues, including depression and PTSD.

mom and baby

That’s why it’s important to reach out as soon as possible after the event, since postpartum depression can arise soon after a traumatic experience.

If you are thinking of having more children in the future, taking steps to make your next birth as positive as possible is also vital.

Recognizing Trauma

Women can sometimes experience symptoms of postpartum depression without necessarily understanding the link between that and traumatic birth.

Some are under the impression that birth is supposed to be difficult and long, or that their role is to assent to all suggestions made by their health providers.

In fact, birth trauma can arise from everything from medical interventions to the use of pain medications, the choice of a specific type of delivery, and the length of labor.

If, when thinking of your birth, you feel that it was an overwhelming or dangerous experience, or you have symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares, intrusive thoughts, anxiety and/or depression, or disrupted sleep, seek help from a professional therapist.

They can help you reduce or eliminate PTSD symptoms if you have them, through therapies such as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, and/or Group Therapy.

mom and newborn

Seeking Legal Recourse

If your trauma was caused by medical negligence, seeking the help of a birth injury attorney can help you feel that your experiences matter. It can also help you bear the costs of any treatment you may require as a result of your trauma.

Medical malpractice can arise from the use of forceps or vacuum extraction, the failure to detect an infection, or the performance of a C-section against a woman’s wishes.

Protecting Yourself in the Future

If you have been through a traumatic birth and you are planning to have more children, know that you can take an active role in your subsequent births.

You have the right to make decisions on everything, from whether or not you are willing to have an episiotomy to the type of main management (if any) you wish to have. You can set out all these wishes in your birth plan.

For inspiration, take a look at the wide array of online birth plans available.

A birth plan can also include stipulations regarding your wishes before and during labor, aspects such as the medical interventions you prefer to avoid, and whether or not you wish to breastfeed your baby immediately after birth.

baby and pregnant mom

Birth trauma is often related to physical injury, but it can actually be caused by a much wider array of experiences.

If you have symptoms of anxiety, depression, or PTSD, seek the help of a professional therapist to help you in recovering from a traumatic birth.

Look into legal options if applicable, and take steps to ensure your doctor and family are aware of your rights and wishes in future births.

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