Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can happen after giving birth, is often called “birth trauma.” It can also be used to talk about women who have some signs of PTSD but not enough for a full diagnosis.
The first people to be diagnosed with PTSD were veterans of the Vietnam War, and most people still think that only soldiers can get it. In reality, PTSD can happen after any kind of traumatic event, such as being in a car accident, being sexually assaulted, or having a hard birth. People who have seen something scary can also get PTSD. For example, someone with PTSD is likely to have seen someone else get killed violently. This is why some partners and even midwives get PTSD after watching a painful birth.
Most of the time, giving birth is scary because you worry that you or your baby will die. There are many kinds of birth trauma, like when a woman loses a lot of blood or has to have an emergency caesarean birth because the baby’s heart rate drops quickly.
Major symptoms of birth trauma or postnatal PTSD
- Having flashbacks, nightmares, or other disturbing memories that remind them of the trauma. They cause a lot of worry and stress.
- Not doing things that make you think about what happened. This could mean that you don’t want to go near the place where you had your baby or that you don’t want to talk to other moms who have babies.
- You are hypervigilant if you are always on guard and worried. You’re afraid that something bad might happen to your child.
- Being sad and nervous (“negative perception” in medical terminology). You might blame yourself for having a hard birth and feel bad about yourself. You might not be able to remember much about the birth or what it was like.
PTSD doesn’t happen to everyone who goes through something traumatic, but it does happen to a lot of people. It’s a normal reaction, and it doesn’t mean you’re weak. Also, it doesn’t depend on the person. Brain scans have shown that people with PTSD have brains that are very different from those who don’t have them. No matter what other people tell you, you can’t get rid of PTSD by “pulling yourself together” or “focusing on the good.”
In the end, “birth trauma” is a term for physical or emotional injuries caused by birth that hurt both the mother and the baby. Birth trauma can be anything from a small cut or tear in the perineum to serious problems like damage to the organs in the pelvis or brain damage in the baby. Birth trauma can have long-lasting physical and mental effects, like PTSD or chronic pain. It is important for doctors and nurses to know about the risks of birth trauma and how to treat and help prevent any injuries that might happen during childbirth.
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