Birth Trauma

Birth Trauma

by Dr Emma Gray - 27th December, 2018
Birth Trauma

In this blog I am going to explain what Birth Trauma is then share a quick quiz so that you work out if this is the problem that you are struggling with.

Birth Trauma is when a parent develops Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result of giving birth. It is estimated to effect 30,00 women in the UK every year or 25-35% of women. It can also affect men. For this reason I am going to refer to the sufferer as ‘the parent’.

Birth Trauma occurs when what is expected to be a happy and joyful experience is terrifying and traumatic and leaves the parent(s) with debilitating symptoms of PTSD. It often occurs when:

1. Labour is difficult, long and/or painful.

2. An unplanned C-section occurs

3. Emergency treatment is needed

Risk factors for Birth Trauma include a history of depression, anxiety and low self -esteem/confidence.

The occurrence of Birth Trauma is underestimated because having a baby is thought to be adequate compensation for the experience and it is assumed that the ‘joy of parenthood’ will result in the trauma of birth being quickly forgotten.

Take this quiz to work our if you are suffering from Birth Trauma:

1. Do you experience flashbacks to the traumatic birth of your baby?

2. Do you have intrusive thoughts/images relating to the birth of your baby?

3. Do you experience intense distress at reminders of the birth?

4. Do you experience pain, sweating, nausea and/or trembling when thinking about the birth?

5. Do you get easily upset or angry?

6. Do you feel very alert and are easily startled?

7. Is your sleep and/or appetite disrupted?

8. Do you struggle to concentrate?

9. Are you engaging in self destructive or reckless behaviours?

10. Do you work hard to avoid reminders of the birth?

11. Do you feel detached from the world?

12. Are you using drugs or alcohol to cope?

If you have answered ‘yes’ to 1 or more of these questions you may be suffering from Birth Trauma. Check out my next blog to find out about what treatment is available.


Dr Emma Gray

Dr Emma Gray

I am often the first person with whom my patients share significant and intimate thoughts and memories; I never take that privileged position for granted nor the opportunity to help someone to feel better about themselves and discover a more fulfilling life. One of my colleagues once described me as a natural psychologist; I guess she was alluding to the fact that I feel at ease being a therapist, I can empathise with people’s distress and discomfort but don’t feel overwhelmed by it, I can understand their problem and know how to help, it has always just felt like what I should be doing.


Read more about my approach to counselling here...


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