Experts Find Birth Experience More Traumatic Than Commonly Thought

Birthing a child is supposed to be a joyous and celebratory occasion. Unfortunately, some expectant mothers leave the delivery room with more than just a bundle of joy.

Researchers are finding that more and more mothers are experiencing Postpartum Posttraumatic Stress Disorder than once thought. In fact, one study found that almost one third of women experience many symptoms of extreme trauma. These rates are higher than revealed in other studies because the experts predict many hide their pain to avoid further interactions with medical practitioners.

The increase in the stress disorder due to childbirth may be connected to the greater rate of medical assistance during delivery, such as Caesarean sections. Whatever the cause, medical professionals can take steps to reduce the rate of Postpartum Posttraumatic Stress Disorder for their patients.

Postpartum Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

The risk of developing PTSD can be reduced if physicians discuss and address their patients' fears, concerns and develop a plan for the birth prior to delivery. Although medication can aid in relieving anxiety, many experts recommend the use of counseling to help manage the disorder. In addition, use of a doula, often referred to as a birthing coach, can improve the chances that a patient will have a positive birthing experience.

Generally, PTSD is associated with soldiers fighting in war zones. Experts note that more and more mothers are finding themselves within this group, since a "painful or complicated labor and delivery in which a woman believes she or her baby might die" can lead to development of the same disorder.

Common symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Flashbacks
  • Psychological numbness or depression

Traumatic births are not uncommon and care should be taken by medical staff to do what they can to alleviate trauma to the mother during birth.

Source: Solace for Mothers, "What is Birth Trauma?"

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