Birth Trauma

Someone may try to tell you that a negative birth experience won't affect you after it's over. The sad fact is that you can have such a horrible birth experience that it leads to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or birth trauma. Signs that you may be experiencing birth trauma include depression, difficulty sleeping, nightmares, and anxiety that last longer than a month.

E Fact

Certain experiences make you more susceptible to PPD, postpartum psychosis, or birth trauma. For example, if you have an emergency cesarean, you are six times more likely to experience depression after giving birth.

E Alert

If you have previously been sexually abused, the loss-of-control issue may be more dominant. Birth is a time when residual issues of sexual abuse tend to arise. Be sure to discuss this not only with your practitioner, but also with your counselor and husband. They must be prepared to help you through any trauma that results from your birth.

Prevention of Birth Trauma

The best way to deal with birth trauma is to prevent it. One way to do this is to develop a trust-based relationship with your doctor or midwife. Discuss what you'd like to have happen for your birth with this person during your prenatal visits. Perhaps you have very strong ideas about certain subjects such as medications used in labor. It may be that you are concerned about pain in labor. These are all examples of important things that need to be communicated to your doctor or midwife.

Building that trust between you and your practitioner will help you communicate during labor. One main key to satisfaction in birth and avoidance of birth trauma is the feeling that you are in control of the situation. This is possible even in labor. That relationship with your practitioner means that with only rare exceptions, everything is presented fairly to you and you are given an opportunity to make the decision that is best for you and your baby. The lack of this decision-making ability is what causes birth trauma.

Loss of control is a hot topic when it comes to birth trauma. This is partially because loss of control is defined so differently from woman to woman. What you consider a loss of control in birth may contribute to another woman's ideal birth. The key is identifying the deciding factors for you.

Healing from a Traumatic Birth

If you have suffered a traumatic birth, you will need to heal from the experience. If you do not heal, you will have a tendency to suffer depression, restlessness, fear of birth, and other symptoms. The healing process will take some time, and you must be patient.

Healing can usually be accomplished with a combination of counseling and time. You will want to address the issues of birth trauma before you decide to have another baby. If you don't, the feelings will rise up again during your next pregnancy and make you feel frightened about repeating your experience.

excerpted from:

From The Everything Mother's First Year Book Copyright © 2005, F+W Publications, Inc. Used by permission of Adams Media, an F+W Publications Company. All rights reserved.

To order this book go to Amazon.

Pregnancy Day by Day

Tell us your due date to receive our daily newsletter and find out what is happening in this day of your pregnancy!

Already a member? Log-in here

Name of the Day

Quick Polls

Q: Do you think it's acceptable to have a baby shower for a second child?



View Results


Create Your Baby Registry with Target
Do you have everything you need to care for your new bundle of joy? Create your Target baby registry today!

Zika Virus Q&A: 4 Facts for Pregnant Women & Families
Zika virus is pretty scary, especially if you're pregnant or trying to conceive. Learn what steps to take to protect yourself from Zika virus, including travel restrictions and mosquito bite prevention.

Where Should Newborns Sleep? Comparing Bassinets, Cradles & More
Where will your bundle of joy sleep when she comes home? Get shopping and safety tips for choosing a bassinet, play yard, or other crib alternative that will fit in your bedroom, per AAP guidelines.

Top 100 Baby Names of 2016
Want to see which baby girl names and boy names are hot in the U.S. right now? Check out these lists from the S.S.A., and click on the names to see their meanings!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

© 2000-2016  Sandbox Networks, Inc. All Rights Reserved.