What I'm going to share may be surprising to some, but may be all too familiar for others. Birth Trauma is real, and can be very distressing for mothers.
So real in fact, that around 25 percent of mothers experience one of the following symptoms of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) after childbirth:
(source: The Atlantic)
Anxiety or panic attacks
Intrusive re-experiencing of birth
Heightened startle response
Flashbacks and nightmares about the delivery
Avoidance of anything that may trigger memories associated with the event.
Trauma is in the eye of the beholder and each woman has their own unique birth experience. However, I have found the following situations to be a common cause of Birth Trauma that can trigger symptoms of PTSD:
Rushed off for an emergency c-section when mom was hoping for a natural delivery
Baby required an unexpected stay in the NICU
Mom or baby had medical complications during the delivery
Not feeling heard or understood by medical providers; feeling out of control or helpless
The Good News
The concept of birth trauma and PTSD in women is continually gaining more attention from medical providers.
A mother may hear to "get over it" or "move on" from well-intentioned family or friends, but is now more than ever less likely to hear that from a medical provider.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms please know that there is a reason for the symptoms, that what you are feeling is valid, and most importantly, there is effective treatment. With treatment, you will not experience these symptoms forever. Visit Postpartum Support International for a list of therapists specially trained in Perinatal Mood and Anxiety disorders. Recommended treatment may involve counseling/psychotherapy, joining a local support group, and antidepressant or anti anxiety medication if clinically indicated.