Three of the key symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress after Childbirth
Re-experiencing the event
- Physical sensations – pain, nausea, sweating
- Flashbacks – involuntarily and vividly re-living what happened during the birth
- Repetitive and upsetting images or sensations
- Constant negative thoughts, self questioning, guilt and shame ‘why didn’t I take more control?’ “My body has let me down”
- PTS symptoms are not just for soldiers. It can happen to anyone.
Trying to avoid being reminded of the traumatic event is another key symptom of Post Traumatic Stress (PTS).
This usually means avoiding certain people or places that remind you of the trauma, or avoiding talking to anyone about your experience. For example avoiding hospitals and doctors, or other mums with newborns.
Many people with PTS try to push memories of the event out of their mind, often distracting themselves with work or hobbies.
Some people attempt to deal with their feelings by trying not to feel anything at all. This is known as emotional numbing or dissociation. This can lead to the person becoming isolated and withdrawn, and they may also give up pursuing activities they used to enjoy. Dissociation can be as simple as continually checking your phone or watching TV all the time to avoid connecting in the present time. To summarise it can include:
- keeping very busy
- avoiding situations that remind you of the trauma
- repressing memories (blank spots or being unable to remember aspects of the childbirth experience)
- feeling detached, cut off and emotionally numb
- being unable to express affection
- using alcohol or drugs to avoid memories
Hyperarousal (feeling ‘on edge’)
Someone with PTS symptoms may be, being jumpy, feeling very anxious and finding it difficult to relax. You may feel constantly on edge and aware of threats and also be easily startled. This state of mind is known as hyperarousal.
Hyperarousal often leads to:
- angry outbursts
- excessive tearfulness
- brain fog
- sleeping problems (insomnia)
- difficulty concentrating
If you are troubled by any of these symptoms and feel that you may have birth trauma PTS please seek help. Your doctor, heal visitor or midwife may be a good place to start.
You can also check out my sister website HERE which offer specialist solutions specifically designed to help mums with birth trauma. Or contact me via the pop up box below. You do not have to suffer in silence.