Trauma and PTSD- not just for soldiers.
You know that book when you get pregnant, "What To Expect...?" If you've been one of the millions to read it, do you recall finding ANYTHING in there about the possibility of trauma related to birth and delivery or early postpartum?
Yeah- neither did we. Not in that book, not in prenatal classes, not from most of our doctors or midwives and certainly not from T.V shows or movies.
When you think of the acronym PTSD or perhaps even the word trauma, you may not think of the experience of labor, birth and early postpartum anywhere near the top of your list. Typically we attribute this term as being withheld for soldiers returning from war or those having suffered some kind of catastrophic negative event.
Our culture tends to glorify an ideal picture of pregnancy and birth as only a time of great happiness. While most would say at some point, welcoming a baby into their life has brought happiness. Approximately 25-34% would reveal they ALSO experienced trauma related to the event(s).
Birth trauma can be described as the woman, man or partner present, on an individual level, feeling as though the mother and/or baby's life or well-being is in significant danger physically or emotionally.
Postpartum PTSD is a set of symptoms that may follow a traumatic birth/delivery that is based upon the individuals' reactions and symptoms related to real or perceived danger relating to the birth and delivery experience. It is estimated that 9% of women experience Postpartum PTSD. Some women are also misdiagnosed with postpartum depression when, in fact, they are experiencing Postpartum PTSD.
But most...remain SILENT about their experiences.
Symptoms of Postpartum PTSD include:
•A re-experiencing of trauma through intrusive images/thoughts, dreams, etc.
•Avoidance of things related to the experience (people, places, etc.)
•Continuing or persisting "arousal" symptoms such as difficulty sleeping, hyper vigilance, sensitive startle response, panic attacks or symptoms, irritability or angry outbursts- among others.
•Experiencing significant distress in social, occupational (parenting included here), professional, and other functioning areas of life.
For some, not all of the criteria for a formal diagnosis of PTSD may be present, yet still they experience symptoms to a lesser degree or frequency.
Help IS available. You are NOT alone and need not suffer in silence. Relief can be found in several ways; for most, it's a combination of wellness actions. What may work for you depends on your symptoms, severity, frequency and other related factors.
More information and education about this topic can also be found at: