**Trigger Warning** The following article contains content relating to pregnancy, traumatic childbirth, and loss.
As a woman, mom, therapist, and someone who has experienced childbirth trauma, I want to start a conversation and raise awareness about this very sensitive topic. I know this may be difficult for a lot of women to read and process, but my hope is that it will help guide you on your journey of acceptance and healing.
Of all of the things women wish for while they are expecting, the list of must-haves usually doesn’t include any negative feelings or terrifying encounters that come with the experience of childbirth trauma.
Typical questions when you’re pregnant include,
“Is it a boy or a girl?” and “When are you due?”
“Are you prepared for an emergency C-section that may leave you and your baby hospitalized longer than you thought?” or “Are you envisioning having pelvic floor dysfunction as a long-term result of childbirth?”
Of course, nobody wants to hear or answer those questions when planning for their due date.
Preparing for labor and delivery while you are pregnant is nerve-racking enough. And it’s crucial to address, normalize, and validate birth trauma experiences for the well-being of moms postpartum.
Let’s start by taking a look at this number: 45%.
According to the NIH (1), 45% of new moms experience birth trauma.
A limited list of what birth trauma entails includes:
experiencing childbirth that was not like you hoped
needing to spend more time in the hospital for yourself or your baby
having a C-Section when a vaginal birth was not possible
physical complications during and after birth
If you have experienced a traumatic birth, the complicated and frequently negative impact on your mind and body is often long-term. A ripple effect of that is often brushed aside.
Unresolved trauma can lead to poor self-care, a change in behavioral patterns, and changes in mood. Now, add on post-partum hormone fluctuations after a pregnancy has ended and the daily charge of caring for an infant.
And some new moms are battling all of these physical and emotional upheavals while they’re coping with the loss of their baby.
A very real and distressing experience, birth trauma needs to be processed so that you may heal to take care of yourself and/or your baby the best you can. Here are a few things to remember while processing a traumatic birth experience:
#1 - What you experienced was not your fault.
#2 - You are NOT alone. Seek support from friends, partners, family, a therapist, support groups, etc. This is your journey and one that you can get through with the right resources, knowledge, and help.
#3 - Write this down for moments when you’re feeling overwhelmed: “My birth story does not define me as a mom” and “I am safe and can manage the emotional and physical symptoms of my delivery.”
Getting and being pregnant is hard. Childbirth is hard. Body changes are hard.
Letting go of what you thought should have happened on your delivery day and talking about what actually did can help you move past sadness, anger, and disappointment. And in turn, focus on healing and your family.
If you or someone you know and love has experienced childbirth trauma, please look into the following resource:
Postpartum Support International: www.postpartum.net
About the Author:
Jackie Graff is a Certified Perinatal Mental Health therapist and co-owner of Be Present Therapy & Wellness. Jackie provides therapy to women who are struggling during pregnancy, postpartum, and infertility and loss.
In addition to providing support for new moms, Jackie holds certifications in both domestic violence and sexual assault crisis intervention and has extensive training in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Exposure Response Prevention Therapy (ERP) to help treat anxiety and OCD.
For more information about Jackie and the team at Be Present Therapy & Wellness, visit bepresenttw.com
Disclaimer: The advice and suggestions shared on The Modern Domestic Woman or any of its platforms should never be a substitute for professional treatment.