When you go into the hospital to have your baby you expect things to go well. However it isn’t the case for some women. Some pregnant women are able to go into the hospital and come out the next day with a healthy baby but for someone who has gone through a traumatic birth the road to recovery can take months to years. Many different situations can bring out a traumatic birth.
Just like how every birth is unique, so is every traumatic birth experience.
What Makes a Traumatic Birth?
A traumatic birth is caused by a traumatic experience during the birthing process. Generally this caused by something that happens to the mother, like a near death experience, but it can also be caused by a traumatic birth injury caused to the baby. Traumatic birth is a lot like PTSD for some women as they have gone through a situation that put them near death or caused them to fear for the life of themselves or their baby. Some typical causes of a traumatic birth are as follows:
- #1 Traumatic Birth Experience: A Sudden Change
- When there is a sudden change from safe to dangerous during the birth it can be very scaring. Seeing your life and the life of your baby flash before your eyes can be terrifying and cause a traumatic birth experience. Many women don’t have a doctor that explains to them what is happening during this process.
- #1 Traumatic Birth Experience: Being Overwhelmed
- Sometimes the experience can be completely overwhelming. Being physically restrained, disconnected, or under anesthesia can cause a feeling of helplessness that is hard to shake in these traumatic birth situations.
- #1 Traumatic Birth Experience: A Dangerous Birth
Relationships after a Traumatic Birth
Just like with any other form of PTSD, a traumatic birth can cause significant relationship challenges. You might blame the people you trusted who were present for not helping you or the baby, your loved ones may not want to talk about or support as you deal with the aftermath of your traumatic birth, or your afraid or ashamed of talking about the traumatic situation or the effects that it has had on you. Many women are scared of talking about the side effects of their traumatic birth. Whether that is the fear and emotional response caused by PTSD, scars caused during the birth, or incontinence brought on by a traumatic birth. It may feel harder to connect with the people you felt closest too after a traumatic birth and sometimes it can even be your baby that you have a hard time connecting to.
Breastfeeding After a Traumatic Birth
After a traumatic birth it can be hard to not feel a disconnect with your baby. When you throw in the feelings from postpartum depression you are working with a whirlwind of emotion and turmoil in your life. Seeking therapy and finding a lactation councilor that you can trust can help you to overcome these feeling if you choose to breastfeed. Breastfeeding might be an opportunity to heal the divide after going through a traumatic birth but it is not a one size fits all situation. For some women, they may never be able to breastfeed after a traumatic birth experience or you’re body is either not able to or only some of them time. No matter how you choose or are able to feed your child, remember that you not a failure for not being able to and that you have survived and overcome a traumatic birth experience that many may not know about or have to experience.
Sara experienced a traumatic birth. For her it was the sudden change that left her with PTSD and later found out that she had been the victim of medical malpractice.
It was my first birth with Kylie that made question if I ever wanted to be pregnant again. It put a huge wedge between me and my ex-husband and all I could feel was fear and pain. It took me years to find peace with what happened to me but I’m happy I kept trying.
6 years ago I was going into labor with my ex-husband beside me. It was suppose to be a normal birth and it was going really well until all of the sudden it wasn’t. Kylie wasn’t coming out and something needed to be done. At this point, she was already partially there but they weren’t able to make any more progress. All I could remember was the shear pain I felt as they struggled to free her for the next 3 hours. I thought to myself, “I’m dying” and I didn’t know why. Nobody told me what was happening. Nobody told me why I was in so much pain. I just wanted it to end.
Once the pain was over I find out that my baby has a brachial plexus injury and possibly brain damage from the doctor pulling her free. I felt like it was my fault for so long, even after I stopped reliving what happened every time I closed my eyes.
Seeking Help After a Traumatic Birth
When you or someone you love goes through a traumatic birth experience the best thing that you can do is finding a support system. Whether that is the people around you or seeking therapy to talk through your emotions about your traumatic birth. Sometimes it is also worth pursuing a case against the doctors who caused your traumatic birth or inflicted injury on yourself or your baby.