While every pregnant woman has expectations of pain and a certain level of stress during childbirth, they also hope for a relatively straightforward, joyful and magical experience as they welcome their baby into the world. Thanks to modern medicine, in most cases childbirth happens with relatively few complications and both mother and baby recover from the experience quickly. Unfortunately, there are rare instances when this is not the case. When childbirth goes wrong it can lead to both physical damage and emotional damage. In some cases, mothers can suffer with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for months or even years after the birth.
If you or someone close to you has been through a traumatic birth, this guide outlines how you can begin to heal emotionally after a traumatic birth experience.
Ask for help when you need it
Your friends and family are a vital support network during this time so don’t be afraid to call on them when you need to. If you are uncomfortable speaking with them or you are suffering particularly severely, you may benefit from meeting with a mental health professional. They can provide specialist support for what you’ve been through or even group therapy where you can meet other new mothers who also had traumatic birth experiences. Writing in a diary about what has happened can also help you to process your thoughts and emotions.
Learn as much as you can about what happened
A key step in coming to terms with what happened is to understand it from a practical and medical point of view. Request copies of your medical records and discuss what happened with the relevant medical staff. In some cases, the trauma may have been brought about by medical negligence which has resulted in injury to you or the baby. If that is the case for you, contact a medical negligence solicitor in South Wales to find out if you could be eligible for compensation.
Establish a bond with your baby
A traumatic birth can sometimes lead to a mother feeling disconnected from their baby, almost as if the child is not their own. This is especially true if the mother and/or baby needed medical attention straight away and there was no time for the mother to embrace the baby. While you can’t turn back the clock to get this moment back, there are still ways for you to establish a bond with your baby such as breastfeeding, skin to skin contact, infant massage or babywearing.
Give yourself time to heal
After a traumatic birth experience, a mother can sometimes make emotionally charged decisions which may not be the best course for her or her family. Some mothers may decide to become pregnant again soon afterwards to try and ‘get it right’ this time while others may be so terrified of experiencing a birth like it again that they make permanent decisions about birth control such as being sterilised. Give yourself and your partner time to heal and connect with the baby you have before you make any decisions which will impact your family’s future.