Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) refers to a range of symptoms or reactions that you can develop if you have personally experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. For some people, childbirth can also fit into this category.
The event is one in which you, or others around you, may have felt threatened or unsafe and leads you to feel intense fear, helplessness or horror. Both men and women can experience PTSD after experiencing or watching a birth.
I was not fully in touch with reality for the last 8 hours or so of labour. I don’t know how common this is, but I was terribly traumatised and had no opportunity to debrief or ask questions. I never saw the obstatrician who was there. My partner was also traumatised and his memory of events was poor. We found it hard to piece together what happened and timeframes. I obsessed about it for months afterwards.
If you have PTSD following the birth, you may find yourself experiencing the following types of difficulties:
Post traumatic stress disorder following birth can happen to anyone, particularly those who have experienced:
For these reasons it is important to discuss this with your obstetrician, midwife or birthing professional prior to the birth, or those involved in your delivery at the time of birth – so they can be extra sensitive to your experience and supportive.
If you can identify with these symptoms, there are effective treatments available to help you recover from PTSD and allow you to move forward from the traumatic experience.