Have I got postpartum depression or is it birth trauma?

As many as 3 in 10 mums in the UK may feel they experience postpartum depression. It is important to understand that postpartum depression and birth trauma are two very distinct conditions and are treated differently. Many of the symptoms are different and how we recover is very different. The two conditions need to be identified and treated individually.

As the awareness of birth trauma is so low, even among birth professionals, often mothers with birth trauma PTS symptoms are misdiagnosed and treated for postpartum (or postnatal) depression, with a prescription for medication  which will not treat many of the PTS symptoms. Many clients have had this experience and know that this is not the answer, but can’t find anywhere else to turn. For more information about PTS symptoms after childbirth click HERE

It is also common for women report being told by health professionals, or friends and family to ‘get over it’ and ‘move on’ which only increases their sense of being dismissed and trivialised, which then leads to further isolation. Most clients who I work with report hearing this kind of language.

Is it birth trauma or postpartum depression?

In my experience, working with, and clearing the trauma of a difficult birth can hugely benefit the client and move them into a space of wholeness and well-being without the need for other interventions.

There is also clear scientific evidence that experiencing trauma can lead to depression. Symptoms of anxiety, depression and dissociation (numbness/feeling distant from life) have been observed in groups such as war veterans and victims of assault and natural disasters. It is logical to consider that birth trauma may lead some clients to the similar reactions. Trauma is anything that overwhelms us and we have natural responses to survive.

However, the two conditions of postpartum depression and birth trauma PTS can be experienced side by side.  If you are worried you may have postpartum depression it is important to get a formal diagnosis.  Your GP, midwife or health visitor will be able to help.

If you feel you need emergency help, it is important to take action. Please contact your doctor or NHS direct on 111 or speak to a loved one to do it for you.

The effects of trauma can feel overwhelming, however with the right help you can move forward to a pathway of well-being to be the mum you always dreamed of being.