Almost a third of women say their experience of childbirth is ‘traumatic’, and as many as 15,000 mums develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following childbirth every year.
If you found your baby’s birth difficult or shocking, you may have been told that you should be glad to have produced a healthy baby, or that you’ll soon forget the trauma of the birth.
But many women do not find it easy to forget what happened.
They can suffer flashbacks, nightmares, marital difficulties and find it impossible to bond with their baby.
Others experience painful or humiliating physical effects such as incontinence, which wreck their confidence.
Factors such as loss of control, loss of dignity, the hostile or difficult attitudes of medical staff at the birth, feelings of not being listened to or the absence of informed consent to medical procedures, can all contribute to birth trauma.
Men who witness their partner’s traumatic childbirth experience may also feel traumatized as a result.
The social and emotional effects of birth trauma can be devastating.
Women may suffer extreme psychological distress as a consequence of their childbirth experience. The lack of support available to traumatized mothers can mean that relationships with friends and family may deteriorate.
For example, many women end up feeling torn between their desire for more children and their determination to avoid another pregnancy – even sex altogether.
Sufferers may also try and avoid medical treatments like smear tests.
For many women, however, their greatest concern is the difficulties they encounter bonding with their baby who they may view as a constant reminder of the trauma they have experienced.
The Birth Trauma Association was set up in 2004 to help women suffering from this condition, to raise awareness and work towards prevention of the condition.
It aims to tackle the isolation of birth trauma sufferers, by offering support and showing sufferers they are far from alone.
The BTA also hopes to help change those practices which contribute to Postnatal PTSD.
Visit the BTA website for help and more information.