My Story - Birth Trauma

 What is Birth Trauma?

'Birth trauma is a shorthand phrase for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after childbirth. We also use it for women who have some symptoms of PTSD, but not enough for a full diagnosis. In most cases, what makes birth traumatic is the fear that you or your baby are going to die. We very often see birth trauma in women who have lost a lot of blood, for example, or who had to have an emergency caesarean because their baby’s heart rate suddenly dipped'Birth Trauma Association

Now this is a topic that I have touched on many times on my Instagram but a topic I have not talked through in depth as such, simply because I could not find the words and I could not figure out how to write it down with any sort of structure, so I do apologise in advance if this post some what jumps from point to point.

If you're new here you will not be aware that on the 13th june 2018 I gave birth to my daughter, Maci. Who weighed 8lbs 11oz a week before her due date. I struggled with Hyperemesis Gravidarum throughout my pregnancy which resulted in me not being able to work and most days barely leave my flat at the time, it was extremely isolating and a terrible time.The condition itself definitely left a permanent fear of being sick and feeling nauseous. I was so excited to give birth, as any expectant mother I had dreamt about what would happen and that amazing moment I would be able to hold my beautiful baby for the first time. Never did it cross my mind that I would have a very long labour, resulting in 1500+ ml blood loss, episiotomy and a forceps delivery. I have a whole post about my birth story so please take a look if you would like to know about it in more in depth. 

You're probably wondering why I have only chosen to speak about my ordeal now, well the lovely Jodetopia contacted me and asked if I would like to take part in a collaborative post all about Birth trauma and forwarded me some questions (below) which of course I willingly answered because it is so important that this topic is spoken about more widely. 

How long ago was the birth in which resulted your birth trauma?

26 months ago, 13th June 2018.

Did you seek, or were you offered, help for your birth trauma? If so, would you be willing to explain a little bit about the help that you have received?

I was not offered any help initially despite the traumatic birth that I had and only being a teen mum. I can’t remember who mentioned it to me (possibly saw it on social media) that my local hospital offered a service called ‘birth afterthoughts which was a service in which you could ask for a nurse/doctor to sit down with you and go through your labour and delivery notes with you. Now this is definitely an appointment that took a lot of thought about attending, it was very triggering and emotional although I came out of the appointment understanding why things happened a little bit more and feeling a bit less ‘robbed’ of the experience of giving birth.

Would you consider yourself ‘recovered’ from your birth trauma?

No, I don’t think I will ever ‘recover’ from the ordeal. I find myself talking about it less nowadays just because I don’t think it is healthy to keep reminding myself of the events but this does not mean I block it out completely because I feel like that is even more damaging. It has definitely impacted by decision about having more children though If I was to ever meet someone again.

If you answered no, do you think it will ever be possible for you to be ‘recovered’ from your birth trauma? What would ‘recovery’ look like for you? (see above)

Do you think that your birth trauma has affected your relationship with your child?

It definitely did in the new-born days, I was not able to be the first person to dress her, feed her or even hold her. Even to this day I do not know what her first ever outfit was and that does upset me. I had to have blood transfusions meaning I felt ‘drunk’ as such for the first couple of months of my daughter’s life, it was a very strange time and I would not wish it upon anyone. I remember every time I spoke about the birth I would always get the reply 'Oh well atleast Maci is ok' which of course was true but I couldn't help but feel ignored despite what I had experienced a short time before. Regardless of the traumatic birth Maci is now two years old and we could not be closer, so if you are reading this and you’ve got a new-born, please do not be worried about the amazing bond you will have with them in the future.

Any advice for other mums out there still struggling with their birth trauma?

The first time I realised something was truly ‘wrong’ was when I watched a video by Louise Pentland on YouTube where in which she spoke about birth trauma and every single point she mentioned brought me to tears. It was a relief that I wasn’t alone and that there was not something wrong with me that I felt this way. I personally struggled finding much online content about the subject which is why I am taking part in this project to help raise awareness and hopefully start a conversation. And finally do not feel guilty, it is nothing you did that resulted in a traumatic birth. I remember thinking that maybe if i did 'x y and z' that it may of of resulted in the induction which then caused everything to happen so quick.

Anything else you'd like to add?

I would like to add that you are not alone, birth trauma is more common than we think but for some reason it isn’t spoken about. It is not something to feel guilty about or ashamed of. We all go into pregnancy and birth with this ‘perfect’ idea of what it is, although very rarely this happens. I think it is very wrong that midwives and other maternity staff do not prepare women for what may happen, despite how scary it may be, it is the reality of childbirth and I believe that it would have been a lot more beneficial to me (being only 19 at the time) to of had the various outcomes explained to me before I was signing a consent form about to be operated on.

This truly is a subject that I could speak about for a long time but I would like to say that my direct messages/emails are always open for anyone who thinks that birth trauma may be affecting them.

Helpful links -

 Birth Trauma Association

Birth Trauma and Post Natal PTSD

Louise' Video

Until next time,