Directions

Ingredients

One Big Idea: Birth Trauma

Birth trauma is a broad descriptor that can describe any condition leading to the physical, mental or emotional impact of the birthing process on the mother, partner, and/or baby. Unfortunately, the emotional and mental aspects of a birthing experience often remain neglected, leading individuals to develop coping responses in relation to their trauma.

These coping responses are often unhelpful but the body’s way of trying to protect the individual from re-experiencing the traumatic event. Birth trauma is so prevalent that 45% of women report that their births were traumatic and 3% experience post-traumatic stress.

Birth trauma can occur whether or not there are real concerns for death. When an individual fears for their life, whether or not this was a medical concern, an individual can experience birth trauma.

Common scenarios associated with experiencing birth trauma include when an individual’s life is compromised when physicians have to act in a quick and abrupt way due to fetal/maternal distress leading the patient to not feel heard, hostile attitudes of the medical staff, or when the patient feels as though they have lost a sense of dignity due to exposure to many individuals in the room.

These are all scenarios that are a perfect storm for developing birth trauma. While the focus is often on the mother and child, it’s important to remember that partners witnessing the birth process can also develop a trauma response simply by observing the events, feeling powerless and fearful for their partner’s/child’s life.

Examples of birthing experiences that may lead to developing traumatic responses include:

  1. A birth plan not going as expected or planned; unexpected complications in the birth experience
  2. Emergency C-Section
  3. Baby or mother in medical distress
  4. Feeling a loss of control about the birth process or being treated poorly by hospital staff/ not feeling heard or respected.
  5. Unwanted medical interventions performed
  6. Pain that was unable to be relieved
  7. Baby needing to be taken to NICU (10-15% of newborns are admitted to a NICU yearly)
  8. Women with previous trauma (for example, sexual or childhood abuse) may be triggered in the birthing process

You may be experiencing birth trauma if you experience any of the following:

  1. Re-experience the traumatic event with repeated thoughts, nightmares, or flashbacks, accompanied by feelings of fear or anxiety
  2. Avoid anything that reminds you of the trauma, such as avoiding meeting friends with babies or anything baby-related, not driving by the hospital or birthing location, or even feeling fearful of becoming pregnant again.
  3. Hypervigilance. If you experience yourself as constantly on edge or hyper-aware, easily startled, or irritable you may have hypervigilance.
  4. Feeling unhappy or depressed. Additionally, experiencing shame or guilt over the birthing experience is a risk factor for developing postpartum depression or anxiety.

What can you do if you think you may be experiencing a traumatic response or any of the above symptoms after giving birth? The good news is that there are resources and trained professionals with expertise in trauma to help individuals process, cope, and continue to live thriving lives. Please see below for a list of effective therapies:

Steps for getting help

1. Find a safe person

Staying silent after a traumatic experience is a common reaction. However, suffering in silence only exacerbates the traumatic response. Oftentimes, individuals feel a sense of guilt or shame after the birthing trauma, please know that you are not alone and that this is certainly not your fault. Find a trusted individual with whom you can share your experience.

2. Journal or draw your thoughts and emotions

Sometimes the thought of verbalizing your pain is too overwhelming, if this is the case for you, write your thoughts and emotions down on a piece of paper. Some individuals even enjoy drawing out their trauma and expressing it through art. These will also serve as great resources for you to bring and share in therapy.

3. Find a trauma-informed therapist

In addition to sharing your experience with a trusted confidante and expressing your emotions/thoughts on paper, it will be important to find professional help with expertise in trauma. Psychiatrists, psychologists, and therapists with expertise in trauma can provide you with evidence-based therapies to help you process your trauma so you can feel like you again. Examples of therapies that have been shown to help individuals with trauma include Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), The Tapping Solution, Body and Movement Therapy, Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), and Internal Family System Therapy.

4. Ask for help

It takes a village. Isolation is a common trauma response and can make symptoms worse. Ask a trusted friend/family member to come and watch your child to provide yourself with respite. Even a brief 30 minutes of alone time can do wonders for your mind, body, and spirit.  

5. Remain open

In some circumstances, medication may be necessary in order to begin therapy. Please know that just because it is recommended you begin medication, this does not mean you will be on the medication for a lifetime. Talk with your therapist and doctor to find out what’s right for you.

Please know that you are not alone, not at fault, and that relief is possible. By prioritizing your health, a new parenting experience is always possible.

One Big Idea: Birth Trauma

Close
Theme icon

Podcast /

Content /

Embody

One Big Idea: Birth Trauma

Birth trauma is an important topic of discussion, and experts Molly Dean Chang, MSW and Alicia Samaniego Wuth, PsyD are here to give you a foundation on your journey to learn more.

Join the Yes Collective and download the mobile app today

JOIN TODAY

Key takeaways

1

Birth trauma is seldom discussed but is experienced by up to 45% of women who give birth

2

Molly and Alicia discuss the causes and symptoms of birth trauma

3

Resources are available that can substantially help those who experienced birth trauma

Low hassle, high nutrition

Fierce Food: Easy

Fierce Food: Easy

50/50 mixes of powerful veggies and starchy favorites

Fierce Food: Balance

Fierce Food: Balance

Maximize nutrients, minimize sugar and starch

Fierce Food: Power

Fierce Food: Power

Ingredients

Kitchen Equipment

Ingredient Replacement

View replacement list (PDF)

Reading time:

5 minutes

Birth trauma is a broad descriptor that can describe any condition leading to the physical, mental or emotional impact of the birthing process on the mother, partner, and/or baby. Unfortunately, the emotional and mental aspects of a birthing experience often remain neglected, leading individuals to develop coping responses in relation to their trauma.

These coping responses are often unhelpful but the body’s way of trying to protect the individual from re-experiencing the traumatic event. Birth trauma is so prevalent that 45% of women report that their births were traumatic and 3% experience post-traumatic stress.

Birth trauma can occur whether or not there are real concerns for death. When an individual fears for their life, whether or not this was a medical concern, an individual can experience birth trauma.

Common scenarios associated with experiencing birth trauma include when an individual’s life is compromised when physicians have to act in a quick and abrupt way due to fetal/maternal distress leading the patient to not feel heard, hostile attitudes of the medical staff, or when the patient feels as though they have lost a sense of dignity due to exposure to many individuals in the room.

These are all scenarios that are a perfect storm for developing birth trauma. While the focus is often on the mother and child, it’s important to remember that partners witnessing the birth process can also develop a trauma response simply by observing the events, feeling powerless and fearful for their partner’s/child’s life.

Examples of birthing experiences that may lead to developing traumatic responses include:

  1. A birth plan not going as expected or planned; unexpected complications in the birth experience
  2. Emergency C-Section
  3. Baby or mother in medical distress
  4. Feeling a loss of control about the birth process or being treated poorly by hospital staff/ not feeling heard or respected.
  5. Unwanted medical interventions performed
  6. Pain that was unable to be relieved
  7. Baby needing to be taken to NICU (10-15% of newborns are admitted to a NICU yearly)
  8. Women with previous trauma (for example, sexual or childhood abuse) may be triggered in the birthing process

You may be experiencing birth trauma if you experience any of the following:

  1. Re-experience the traumatic event with repeated thoughts, nightmares, or flashbacks, accompanied by feelings of fear or anxiety
  2. Avoid anything that reminds you of the trauma, such as avoiding meeting friends with babies or anything baby-related, not driving by the hospital or birthing location, or even feeling fearful of becoming pregnant again.
  3. Hypervigilance. If you experience yourself as constantly on edge or hyper-aware, easily startled, or irritable you may have hypervigilance.
  4. Feeling unhappy or depressed. Additionally, experiencing shame or guilt over the birthing experience is a risk factor for developing postpartum depression or anxiety.

What can you do if you think you may be experiencing a traumatic response or any of the above symptoms after giving birth? The good news is that there are resources and trained professionals with expertise in trauma to help individuals process, cope, and continue to live thriving lives. Please see below for a list of effective therapies:

Steps for getting help

1. Find a safe person

Staying silent after a traumatic experience is a common reaction. However, suffering in silence only exacerbates the traumatic response. Oftentimes, individuals feel a sense of guilt or shame after the birthing trauma, please know that you are not alone and that this is certainly not your fault. Find a trusted individual with whom you can share your experience.

2. Journal or draw your thoughts and emotions

Sometimes the thought of verbalizing your pain is too overwhelming, if this is the case for you, write your thoughts and emotions down on a piece of paper. Some individuals even enjoy drawing out their trauma and expressing it through art. These will also serve as great resources for you to bring and share in therapy.

3. Find a trauma-informed therapist

In addition to sharing your experience with a trusted confidante and expressing your emotions/thoughts on paper, it will be important to find professional help with expertise in trauma. Psychiatrists, psychologists, and therapists with expertise in trauma can provide you with evidence-based therapies to help you process your trauma so you can feel like you again. Examples of therapies that have been shown to help individuals with trauma include Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), The Tapping Solution, Body and Movement Therapy, Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), and Internal Family System Therapy.

4. Ask for help

It takes a village. Isolation is a common trauma response and can make symptoms worse. Ask a trusted friend/family member to come and watch your child to provide yourself with respite. Even a brief 30 minutes of alone time can do wonders for your mind, body, and spirit.  

5. Remain open

In some circumstances, medication may be necessary in order to begin therapy. Please know that just because it is recommended you begin medication, this does not mean you will be on the medication for a lifetime. Talk with your therapist and doctor to find out what’s right for you.

Please know that you are not alone, not at fault, and that relief is possible. By prioritizing your health, a new parenting experience is always possible.

Birth trauma is a broad descriptor that can describe any condition leading to the physical, mental or emotional impact of the birthing process on the mother, partner, and/or baby. Unfortunately, the emotional and mental aspects of a birthing experience often remain neglected, leading individuals to develop coping responses in relation to their trauma.

These coping responses are often unhelpful but the body’s way of trying to protect the individual from re-experiencing the traumatic event. Birth trauma is so prevalent that 45% of women report that their births were traumatic and 3% experience post-traumatic stress.

Birth trauma can occur whether or not there are real concerns for death. When an individual fears for their life, whether or not this was a medical concern, an individual can experience birth trauma.

Common scenarios associated with experiencing birth trauma include when an individual’s life is compromised when physicians have to act in a quick and abrupt way due to fetal/maternal distress leading the patient to not feel heard, hostile attitudes of the medical staff, or when the patient feels as though they have lost a sense of dignity due to exposure to many individuals in the room.

These are all scenarios that are a perfect storm for developing birth trauma. While the focus is often on the mother and child, it’s important to remember that partners witnessing the birth process can also develop a trauma response simply by observing the events, feeling powerless and fearful for their partner’s/child’s life.

Examples of birthing experiences that may lead to developing traumatic responses include:

  1. A birth plan not going as expected or planned; unexpected complications in the birth experience
  2. Emergency C-Section
  3. Baby or mother in medical distress
  4. Feeling a loss of control about the birth process or being treated poorly by hospital staff/ not feeling heard or respected.
  5. Unwanted medical interventions performed
  6. Pain that was unable to be relieved
  7. Baby needing to be taken to NICU (10-15% of newborns are admitted to a NICU yearly)
  8. Women with previous trauma (for example, sexual or childhood abuse) may be triggered in the birthing process

You may be experiencing birth trauma if you experience any of the following:

  1. Re-experience the traumatic event with repeated thoughts, nightmares, or flashbacks, accompanied by feelings of fear or anxiety
  2. Avoid anything that reminds you of the trauma, such as avoiding meeting friends with babies or anything baby-related, not driving by the hospital or birthing location, or even feeling fearful of becoming pregnant again.
  3. Hypervigilance. If you experience yourself as constantly on edge or hyper-aware, easily startled, or irritable you may have hypervigilance.
  4. Feeling unhappy or depressed. Additionally, experiencing shame or guilt over the birthing experience is a risk factor for developing postpartum depression or anxiety.

What can you do if you think you may be experiencing a traumatic response or any of the above symptoms after giving birth? The good news is that there are resources and trained professionals with expertise in trauma to help individuals process, cope, and continue to live thriving lives. Please see below for a list of effective therapies:

Steps for getting help

1. Find a safe person

Staying silent after a traumatic experience is a common reaction. However, suffering in silence only exacerbates the traumatic response. Oftentimes, individuals feel a sense of guilt or shame after the birthing trauma, please know that you are not alone and that this is certainly not your fault. Find a trusted individual with whom you can share your experience.

2. Journal or draw your thoughts and emotions

Sometimes the thought of verbalizing your pain is too overwhelming, if this is the case for you, write your thoughts and emotions down on a piece of paper. Some individuals even enjoy drawing out their trauma and expressing it through art. These will also serve as great resources for you to bring and share in therapy.

3. Find a trauma-informed therapist

In addition to sharing your experience with a trusted confidante and expressing your emotions/thoughts on paper, it will be important to find professional help with expertise in trauma. Psychiatrists, psychologists, and therapists with expertise in trauma can provide you with evidence-based therapies to help you process your trauma so you can feel like you again. Examples of therapies that have been shown to help individuals with trauma include Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), The Tapping Solution, Body and Movement Therapy, Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), and Internal Family System Therapy.

4. Ask for help

It takes a village. Isolation is a common trauma response and can make symptoms worse. Ask a trusted friend/family member to come and watch your child to provide yourself with respite. Even a brief 30 minutes of alone time can do wonders for your mind, body, and spirit.  

5. Remain open

In some circumstances, medication may be necessary in order to begin therapy. Please know that just because it is recommended you begin medication, this does not mean you will be on the medication for a lifetime. Talk with your therapist and doctor to find out what’s right for you.

Please know that you are not alone, not at fault, and that relief is possible. By prioritizing your health, a new parenting experience is always possible.

Birth trauma is a broad descriptor that can describe any condition leading to the physical, mental or emotional impact of the birthing process on the mother, partner, and/or baby. Unfortunately, the emotional and mental aspects of a birthing experience often remain neglected, leading individuals to develop coping responses in relation to their trauma.

These coping responses are often unhelpful but the body’s way of trying to protect the individual from re-experiencing the traumatic event. Birth trauma is so prevalent that 45% of women report that their births were traumatic and 3% experience post-traumatic stress.

Birth trauma can occur whether or not there are real concerns for death. When an individual fears for their life, whether or not this was a medical concern, an individual can experience birth trauma.

Common scenarios associated with experiencing birth trauma include when an individual’s life is compromised when physicians have to act in a quick and abrupt way due to fetal/maternal distress leading the patient to not feel heard, hostile attitudes of the medical staff, or when the patient feels as though they have lost a sense of dignity due to exposure to many individuals in the room.

These are all scenarios that are a perfect storm for developing birth trauma. While the focus is often on the mother and child, it’s important to remember that partners witnessing the birth process can also develop a trauma response simply by observing the events, feeling powerless and fearful for their partner’s/child’s life.

Examples of birthing experiences that may lead to developing traumatic responses include:

  1. A birth plan not going as expected or planned; unexpected complications in the birth experience
  2. Emergency C-Section
  3. Baby or mother in medical distress
  4. Feeling a loss of control about the birth process or being treated poorly by hospital staff/ not feeling heard or respected.
  5. Unwanted medical interventions performed
  6. Pain that was unable to be relieved
  7. Baby needing to be taken to NICU (10-15% of newborns are admitted to a NICU yearly)
  8. Women with previous trauma (for example, sexual or childhood abuse) may be triggered in the birthing process

You may be experiencing birth trauma if you experience any of the following:

  1. Re-experience the traumatic event with repeated thoughts, nightmares, or flashbacks, accompanied by feelings of fear or anxiety
  2. Avoid anything that reminds you of the trauma, such as avoiding meeting friends with babies or anything baby-related, not driving by the hospital or birthing location, or even feeling fearful of becoming pregnant again.
  3. Hypervigilance. If you experience yourself as constantly on edge or hyper-aware, easily startled, or irritable you may have hypervigilance.
  4. Feeling unhappy or depressed. Additionally, experiencing shame or guilt over the birthing experience is a risk factor for developing postpartum depression or anxiety.

What can you do if you think you may be experiencing a traumatic response or any of the above symptoms after giving birth? The good news is that there are resources and trained professionals with expertise in trauma to help individuals process, cope, and continue to live thriving lives. Please see below for a list of effective therapies:

Steps for getting help

1. Find a safe person

Staying silent after a traumatic experience is a common reaction. However, suffering in silence only exacerbates the traumatic response. Oftentimes, individuals feel a sense of guilt or shame after the birthing trauma, please know that you are not alone and that this is certainly not your fault. Find a trusted individual with whom you can share your experience.

2. Journal or draw your thoughts and emotions

Sometimes the thought of verbalizing your pain is too overwhelming, if this is the case for you, write your thoughts and emotions down on a piece of paper. Some individuals even enjoy drawing out their trauma and expressing it through art. These will also serve as great resources for you to bring and share in therapy.

3. Find a trauma-informed therapist

In addition to sharing your experience with a trusted confidante and expressing your emotions/thoughts on paper, it will be important to find professional help with expertise in trauma. Psychiatrists, psychologists, and therapists with expertise in trauma can provide you with evidence-based therapies to help you process your trauma so you can feel like you again. Examples of therapies that have been shown to help individuals with trauma include Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), The Tapping Solution, Body and Movement Therapy, Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), and Internal Family System Therapy.

4. Ask for help

It takes a village. Isolation is a common trauma response and can make symptoms worse. Ask a trusted friend/family member to come and watch your child to provide yourself with respite. Even a brief 30 minutes of alone time can do wonders for your mind, body, and spirit.  

5. Remain open

In some circumstances, medication may be necessary in order to begin therapy. Please know that just because it is recommended you begin medication, this does not mean you will be on the medication for a lifetime. Talk with your therapist and doctor to find out what’s right for you.

Please know that you are not alone, not at fault, and that relief is possible. By prioritizing your health, a new parenting experience is always possible.

Enjoying this article? Subscribe to the Yes Collective for more expert emotional wellness just for parents.

Discover Nourish

See more
One Big Idea: Birth Trauma

Podcast

Condimentum eu tortor bibendum.

By

Jackie Kovic

One Big Idea: Birth Trauma

Podcast

Condimentum eu tortor bibendum.

By

Jackie Kovic

Podcast

Condimentum eu tortor bibendum.

By

Jackie Kovic

Podcast Ep. 48: The June Mom-isode with Audra & Anne

Podcast

Podcast Ep. 48: The June Mom-isode with Audra & Anne

By

The Yes Collective Podcast

Podcast Ep. 47: Bridget Cross, LCSW, Leads the Yes Collective Therapist's Circle

Podcast

Podcast Ep. 47: Bridget Cross, LCSW, Leads the Yes Collective Therapist's Circle

By

The Yes Collective Podcast

Podcast Ep. 46: Anne & Justin's In-between-isode on the Working Mothers (Erin Erenberg) Interview

Podcast

Podcast Ep. 46: Anne & Justin's In-between-isode on the Working Mothers (Erin Erenberg) Interview

By

Yes Collective Podcast

Podcast Ep. 45: Fighting for Working Moms with Erin Erenberg, Founder of Totum Women

Podcast

Podcast Ep. 45: Fighting for Working Moms with Erin Erenberg, Founder of Totum Women

By

Yes Collective Podcast

Podcast Ep. 44: Mom-isode #2 with Audra, Anne, and Alicia

Podcast

Podcast Ep. 44: Mom-isode #2 with Audra, Anne, and Alicia

By

Yes Collective Podcast

Five Questions to Help You Explore Internalized Stigma Around Mental Illness

Podcast

Five Questions to Help You Explore Internalized Stigma Around Mental Illness

By

Jena Curtis, EdD

Podcast Ep. 43: Alicia Wuth, PsyD, Leads the Yes Collective Therapist's Circle

Podcast

Podcast Ep. 43: Alicia Wuth, PsyD, Leads the Yes Collective Therapist's Circle

By

Yes Collective Podcast

Anne Watson's Story: No One Told Me Early Motherhood Would Be This Hard

Podcast

Anne Watson's Story: No One Told Me Early Motherhood Would Be This Hard

By

Anne Watson

One Big Idea: Emotional Trauma

Podcast

One Big Idea: Emotional Trauma

By

Justin Wilford, PhD and Alicia Wuth, PsyD

Five Feelings Parents Don’t Want to Talk About (But Need to)

Podcast

Five Feelings Parents Don’t Want to Talk About (But Need to)

By

Alicia Wuth, PsyD and Justin Wilford, PhD

Podcast Ep. 48: The June Mom-isode with Audra & Anne

Podcasts

Podcast Ep. 48: The June Mom-isode with Audra & Anne

By

The Yes Collective Podcast

Podcast Ep. 47: Bridget Cross, LCSW, Leads the Yes Collective Therapist's Circle

Podcasts

Podcast Ep. 47: Bridget Cross, LCSW, Leads the Yes Collective Therapist's Circle

By

The Yes Collective Podcast

Podcast Ep. 46: Anne & Justin's In-between-isode on the Working Mothers (Erin Erenberg) Interview

Podcasts

Podcast Ep. 46: Anne & Justin's In-between-isode on the Working Mothers (Erin Erenberg) Interview

By

Yes Collective Podcast

Podcast Ep. 45: Fighting for Working Moms with Erin Erenberg, Founder of Totum Women

Podcasts

Podcast Ep. 45: Fighting for Working Moms with Erin Erenberg, Founder of Totum Women

By

Yes Collective Podcast

Podcast Ep. 44: Mom-isode #2 with Audra, Anne, and Alicia

Podcasts

Podcast Ep. 44: Mom-isode #2 with Audra, Anne, and Alicia

By

Yes Collective Podcast

Five Questions to Help You Explore Internalized Stigma Around Mental Illness

5 Things Friday

Five Questions to Help You Explore Internalized Stigma Around Mental Illness

By

Jena Curtis, EdD

Podcast Ep. 43: Alicia Wuth, PsyD, Leads the Yes Collective Therapist's Circle

Podcasts

Podcast Ep. 43: Alicia Wuth, PsyD, Leads the Yes Collective Therapist's Circle

By

Yes Collective Podcast

Anne Watson's Story: No One Told Me Early Motherhood Would Be This Hard

Your Stories

Anne Watson's Story: No One Told Me Early Motherhood Would Be This Hard

By

Anne Watson

One Big Idea: Emotional Trauma

One Big Idea

One Big Idea: Emotional Trauma

By

Justin Wilford, PhD and Alicia Wuth, PsyD

Five Feelings Parents Don’t Want to Talk About (But Need to)

5 Things Friday

Five Feelings Parents Don’t Want to Talk About (But Need to)

By

Alicia Wuth, PsyD and Justin Wilford, PhD

Subscribe to get all the goods

Join the app
Login