Monday, October 11, 2010

Healing Birth Trauma

Warning: the above article is very triggering for birth trauma.
I’m not even sure where to start after reading this article. First of all, I want to be clear that as a professional I am not interested in crucifying every person out there who is a medical doctor. I know there are wonderful medical doctors who deeply care about women and want to serve their patients with the best most respectful care. I also want to acknowledge that it’s the SYSTEM that seems to be sick and that very system seems to also traumatize good doctors, midwives, doulas, and lactation consultants. I have had many conversations with my own clients and friends who provide women’s health care that are so frustrated by how broken the system was they suffer vicarious trauma and burnout. But that’s another post.
The debate about whether childbirth can cause PTSD or medical interventions used in an intrusive way are abuse or not is irrelevant to me. Clearly there is a history of women suffering trauma in these situations and that is not theoretical, those symptoms are real. I am interested in making sure these women get TREATMENT so they can go on and bond with their babies as deeply as possible and choose whether or not to have more babies without the intrusive symptoms of PTSD getting in the way. I want fathers and partners to be able to concentrate on supporting the mom and getting to know the new baby, not having to be on high alert to protect the best interests of his new family.
Symptoms of PTSD can include:
-Experiencing an event where you felt your life or the life of somebody else’s was in danger and you were helpless to do anything about the situation.
-Intrusive memories of the event also known as flashbacks.
-Efforts to avoid anything that might remind you of the distressing event.
-Difficulty feeling close to your baby or other loved ones.
PTSD is real. PTSD is treatable. PTSD is probably very under recognized in new moms for many reasons that need to be fixed, but if you see yourself in the above symptoms please consider getting help. Talk to a counselor familiar with PTSD who believes childbirth or medical interventions can be traumatizing. If you have a supportive midwife or doctor talk to them. Talk to a supportive clergyperson or find a local or online support group through ICAN or
When Survivors Give Birth: Understanding and Healing the Effects of Early Sexual Abuse on Childbearing Women

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