How To Reduce Your Risk of Developing Birth-Related PTSD


Birth-related trauma can leave new mothers suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but there are ways to prepare for childbirth that can help prevent this from happening.

Birth-trauma often occurs when something out of the ordinary happens during a delivery, resulting in the use of medical intervention and at times the separation of mother and baby. Birth can also be traumatic when the mother receives sub-par care during or after her labor. Sometimes, birth-trauma brings about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), resulting in ongoing symptoms like anxiety, flashbacks, avoidance, and detachment. While 30% of births are traumatic, about 6% result in PTSD. PTSD most likely occurs in situations where reality clashed with expectations.

Mothers who want to reduce their risk of developing birth-related PTSD have a paradoxical task. They need to procure the best birth situation they can, devoid of unnecessary intervention, while simultaneously preparing themselves for the worst.

Firstly, developing a positive view of the birthing process that honors its biological normalcy is essential. The hospital standard is a risk avoidance model, which means interventions may be put in place "just in case". In other words, the hospital tends towards a fear-based attitude, which can cause anxiety and result in unnecessary traumatic procedures. For example, a woman might want to decline vaginal exams or electronic fetal monitoring, both of which are not always necessary and come with risks. Additionally, she may want to hire a birth assistant to ensure continuity of care, as revolving hospital staff can be stressful and fail to provide an appropriate standard of care.

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Secondly, women should be aware of their own personal risk factors. That way, if any interventions are certain or likely to be needed, she can prepare herself. Trauma may be unavoidable for some, but knowing what to expect is the key to preventing PTSD.

Lastly, an open, educated mind makes the difference. While we want to develop a positive outlook that trusts the birth process, we also must understand that anything can happen. Mothers should spend time researching possible emergency situations and what kind of interventions to expect should these emergencies occur.

So, know what the best situation for your personal birth should be and strive for it. And simultaneously develop a flexible attitude and good knowledge of what could go awry. Trusting both the body and the medical staff will reduce the possibility of developing PTSD.


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