Anyone can experience Birth Trauma and may develop PTS (Post Traumatic Stress) symptoms.
Many women will endure the threat of serious injury or death to themselves or their baby during childbirth and PTS symptoms are a very normal response to what has happened. Most of us only associate PTS with soldiers but these responses can happen to anyone who is overwhelmed and who feels like they are in danger.
Unfortunately for many women, childbirth does feel overwhelming and dangerous as they may endure hours (or even days) of painful labour, medical interventions they don’t want or understand and also have no relationship with their caregivers at hospital.
Birth trauma/PTS symptoms are caused by the mind trying to make sense of the story as the body/mind system was overwhelmed at the time. When this happens our primitive brain, the fight and flight responses automatically take over and start to flood our system with hormones. For some the fight and flight dial gets turned up too high and needs a little help to turn back down again.
Birth trauma symptoms are not a sign of weakness. It is a sign that your system is trying to process a difficult and frightening incident.
Symptoms of birth trauma can be:
- Feeling fearful and helpless
- Flashbacks or nightmares
- Continued intrusive thoughts (racing mind, going over and over what happened)
- Avoiding anything that is a reminder of the birth – including talking about the birth
- Or, conversely, obsessively talking and thinking about it
- Hyper vigilance (being hyper aware and jumpy)
- Anger and irritability
- Difficulty sleeping
- Chronic pain
- Feeling frozen or numb
- Difficulty connecting with your baby
- Open fear of another pregnancy
- Avoiding getting pregnant or ‘putting it off’ forever