Birth trauma can be different for each women who is affected by the birth of their baby. It can be caused by birth injury or by a frightening birth where you may have felt that either you or your baby may have been in danger.
My birth trauma came from a manual removal of my placenta when I was taken to an operating theatre for a procedure which involved a spinal anaesthetic, stirrups and an obstetrician rummaging around in my uterus.
It was a fairly routine procedure, I wasn’t bleeding and there was no emergency. So where did my trauma come from? I believe it was caused by a few factors…
- I was alone in a room full of people, who were talking around me and about me but not to me. I felt vulnerable and scared
- there was a chance this could be a bigger issue than it seemed
- I was away from my baby, who was being assessed in SCBU and who would most probably due to have surgery that day
- it took an age to administer the spinal block and I was in the hands of a small group of student anaesthetists until the consultant roared at them and asked them to leave the room. Not one of them had spoken to me and not one had acknowledged that I was now sobbing. But I felt safe in this doctor’s hands, which he put on my shoulders and said it was going to be okay, he had this now. I calmed, relaxed and the spinal was administered in seconds.
- and then there’s the vulnerability of the procedure, the nakedness, the helplessness of being in stirrups, the discomfort of a gloved hand being inside me
- I felt like a piece of meat that day, not a woman, not a mother of three, just a body
I developed PTSD as a result of this experience in the operating theatre, where I felt violated and ignored. Good therapy with EMDR, as well as medication, helped me cope with flashbacks and the constant, crippling anxiety.
Birth is very subjective, another woman could experience the same as me and feel completely okay. According to the Birth Trauma Association, around 30,000 women a year experience birth trauma in the UK.
If you are struggling after the birth of your baby – and this could be years later for some women – please do seek some help, to talk it through and to make sense of what you experienced. And it may be that you benefit from seeing a psychologist for trauma treatment.
And please do look after yourself, try not to ignore what you are experiencing.
Birth trauma support
There is more information and support at Birth Trauma Association and you can also speak to me as an initial step. You can also speak to your health visitor or GP about being referred for counselling or therapy and you can look into private therapy options.
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