A new study by the University of Kent into the causes of Post Natal Depression has found that women who experience birth complications are 174% more likely to suffer from PND.
Approximately 50% of women in the UK experience ‘red flag’ experiences during childbirth and these can often be deeply traumatic and overwhelming. As a specialist who works with women to help them recover from traumatic birth experiences this study is a very welcome acknowledgement of the painful struggle to be heard that so many of my clients suffer.
The study also found that those women who have a known history of anxiety or depression and receive post natal support (because their issues were known to health professionals) had reduced odds of developing PND. This shows that post natal trauma care is vital for the health of new mums. Sadly for most in the UK it is not available, or even acknowledged as a basic requirement.
This also begs the question – what about the ‘average’ mum with no known depressive history who just has an awful, painful and frightening time on the labour ward? She is often my client as she will fall through the net as she stumbles out of hospital with her newborn and a host of unprocessed and unmet trauma.
Birth for many is often shocking and deeply traumatic. Myths are shattered that it is a completely natural experience (in the UK only 6% of mums have a fully natural birth without intervention) and for the majority of new mums the medical interventions can be harsh, fast moving and terrifying.
Women are often left with no support at all as the overburdened NHS cannot find funding to help them. They return to their families ‘shell shocked‘ but desperately trying to put on a brave face to the world as they cope with their new infant and all it’s immediate and vital needs.
Some clients will come to me after years of suffering with a sense of abandonment that their symptoms and pain were ignored or dismissed by medics. Sadly many other women contribute to this as they are told to ‘just get on with things’ and ‘move on’. Many of them do, and pour themselves into their families, but with deep unprocessed trauma inside that eventually has to be expressed somehow….and often, as the study now shows, this can become depression or quite often other ‘stress’ symptoms. What we resist, persists.
When we create both a psychological and material space for mums to freely acknowledge their experience of birthing (whatever it is!) we immediately create more freedom, inner healing and openness.
Did you have a difficult birth? Have you been unable to express it? Has anyone acknowledged you or have you been shut down by medics or society? Shame and depression grow in the petri dish of darkness and silence. Now with the findings of this new study women will feel able to talk about their journey to a trusted loved one or professional and bring it into the light. If this is YOU, know that you are not alone and that trauma can be processed. You may be amazed by how good it feels to let it go.