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  • Maternal Mental Health Birth Trauma & PTSD

    Approximately one in three women who give birth may experience symptoms of birth trauma and PTSD. Maternal mental health is impacted by these stressful, traumatic events associated with posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms (PTSD). The journey of becoming a new mother is woven with complex issues experienced by women during pregnancy and after giving birth. Birth trauma may consist of psychological or physical symptoms during labor and delivery or after childbirth. You may experience some of these emotions after childbirth, including anxiety, panic attacks, guilt, detachment, and numbness.

    SYMPTOMS OF PSYCHOLOGICAL BIRTH TRAUMA & PTSD

    ·       Depression

    ·       Alcohol and substance use

    ·       Suicidal ideation/thoughts

    ·       Fear of becoming pregnant

    ·       Sexual dysfunction and lack of intimacy

    ·       Detachment/disconnection from the baby

    ·       Interpersonal relationship problems

    ·       Agoraphobia fear about leaving your home

    ·       Hypervigilance concerning the baby

    ·       Flashback images while being sexually intimate

    ·       Sleep disturbance and nightmares

    ·       Being extremely afraid and fearful

    ·       Difficulty sleeping or nightmares

    ·       Ignoring and suppressing emotions

    ·       Social isolation from contact with others

    ·       Sadness, irritability, guilt, shame, or anger

    ·       Avoidance of traumatic event triggers

    SYMPTOMS OF PHYSICAL BIRTH TRAUMA & PTSD

    Pain around the episiotomy

    Pelvic floor muscle laxity

    Urinary incontinence

    Persistent lower back pain

    A lump at the vaginal opening

    Pain or difficulty having sexual intercourse

    A heavyweight feeling in the pelvis area

    Shaking, headaches, dizziness, stomachache, chest pains

    Pregnancy, childbirth, and early motherhood are challenging transitions. A new mother needs empathetic, compassionate support to process the subsequent psychological and physical symptoms after giving birth to her baby. If you are struggling with these symptoms through your transition of becoming a new mother, please reach out to us. We can help you process and heal from these events and help you feel better in the transition of becoming a new mother.

    If You Are Experiencing a Crisis, Suicidal Thoughts or Thoughts of Harming Your Baby

    If you are having thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, immediately seek help taking care of your baby.

    ·     Immediately call 911 or the local hospital emergency room

    ·    Call National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK

    ·     (1-800-273-8255) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

    ·    Chat at suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat.

    ·    Contact the Crisis Text Line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

    · Text HELLO to 741741.

    ·     Seek help from your primary care physician

    ·     Call a mental health professional

    ·     Reach out to your partner, close friend, or family.

    ·     Contact a spiritual leader in your faith community.

     

    References

    Ayers S. (2004). Delivery as a traumatic event; Prevalence, risk factors, and treatment for postnatal posttraumatic stress disorder. Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology, 47(3):552-567.

    Australasian Birth Trauma Association What is birth trauma.

    Australasian Birth Trauma Association What is psychological birth trauma.

    Caudwell-Hall J, Kamisan Atan I, Guzman Rojas R, Langer S, Shek KL, Dietz HP. A traumatic normal vaginal delivery: how many women get what they want?” Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2018 Oct;219(4):379.e1-379.e8.

    Dietz HP, Wilson PD, Milsom I. Maternal birth trauma: why should it matter to urogynaecologists? Curr Opin O/G 2016 Oct;28(5):441-8.

    Dietz HP, Gillespie A, Phadke P. Avulsion of the pubovisceral muscle associated with large vaginal tear after Normal Vaginal Delivery at term. A Case Report. ANZJOG 2007; 47: 341-44.

    Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia Childbirth Trauma.

    Royal Women’s factsheet ‘Baby blues’ https://www.thewomens.org.au/health-information/pregnancy-and-birth/mental-health-pregnancy/baby-blues.

    SA Health South Australian Perinatal Practice Guideline – Managing women in distress after a traumatic birth experience.

    Smith F, Holman D, Moorin R, Tsokos N. Lifetime Risk of Undergoing Surgery for Pelvic Organ Prolapse. Obstetrics and gynecology. 2010;116:1096-100.