Have your experiences during pregnancy, birth or the post-natal period affected you so much that they still have an impact on your day-to-day life?
If so, you are not alone.
According to research, as many as a third of all women rate their birth experience as traumatic and a small, yet significant, number have symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Women suffering from PTSD as a result of a traumatic birth experience may experience flashbacks, intrusive memories that are difficult to shake off, and/or emotional and physical distress when reminded of the trauma, for example on the anniversary of the birth, when driving by the hospital etc.
In some instances, these memories also impact women to such an extent that they are fearful of becoming pregnant once again.
If this sounds like you, there is help available.
You may experience cognitive and mood-related symptoms such as: a lack of interest in daily activities, becoming detached from others, feeling negative about yourself, having a hard time thinking positively, difficulty remembering key details surrounding the traumatic event or blaming yourself or others for the traumatic event.
You may have increased arousal symptoms, difficulty sleeping, demonstrating irritable behaviour, experience difficulty in concentrating or have increased vigilance feeling a constant sense of danger for you or your baby.
You may find yourself avoiding anything related to the trauma you endured, which in-turn may impact on the way you chose to live your life.
We create our own experience through the thoughts we have and the feelings that they generate, so we need to be mindful of what those thoughts and feeling are and how they are impacting our day-to-day existence.
Be assured that it is your perception of your birth experience that matters. The birth may have looked ‘normal’ and perhaps had a good outcome for the baby but that doesn’t negate the psychological impact it had on you. Your story is important. You are important.
Psychotherapy may help by providing a safe space for you to share your story. The goals of therapy are threefold:
- Decrease or eliminate your symptoms;
- Provide you with the right tools to manage your symptoms; and
- Bring back your confidence and self-esteem.
It may also provide some closure and a readiness to move towards feeling differently day to day. As soon as you begin treatment you will have turned a corner, and in a few short months, you will start to feel better
“Birth is not only about making babies. Birth is also about making mothers – strong, competent, capable mothers, who trust themselves and know their inner strength”