Up to 45% of new mothers have reported experiencing birth trauma, a study in the Journal of Perinatal Education reveals. Birth trauma is physical and/or emotional distress experienced by the mother during or after childbirth. Although symptoms vary from mother to mother, they typically include intense flashbacks, panic attacks, depression, anxiety, insomnia, and anger. If you’re currently experiencing symptoms of birth trauma, there are things you can do to recover, process your experience, and move on from the birth.
Let go of self-blame
Many mothers blame themselves after a traumatic birth — whether that’s because they feel like they failed their baby, their body failed them, or they should have done something differently. If you’re holding yourself to blame, it’s important to make a conscious effort to let these feelings go. No two birth experiences are the same, and if yours was difficult, you deserve even more love and respect as you’re now being a mother on top of all these unhappy feelings. So, be kind to yourself and take heart in knowing you did your best and will continue to do so for you and your baby.
Get professional help
A birth trauma therapist can help you understand the root cause of your birth trauma, learn new coping skills to manage negative thoughts and emotions, and strengthen relationships that may have been affected by your experience. Cognitive behavioral therapy, for example, is often recommended by PTSD and focuses on replacing unhealthy patterns of thoughts, emotions, and behaviors with healthy ones. Additionally, if you sustained a birth injury like a vaginal tear or pelvic damage, you may also want to consult a reputable lawyer. Birth injury lawyers can help you file a lawsuit and receive rightful compensation to cover the cost of medical expenses.
Focus on recovery
After a traumatic birth, it’s important to prioritize rest and recovery in order to help your brain process the experience and move on. This means getting enough sleep, good nutrition, and minimizing stress, which although isn’t easy with a newborn, is key for healing. So, make sure to prioritize “me time” everyday — whether that means reading a good book, watching a movie, having a bath, or spending the day with your baby on the sofa.
Healing from birth trauma doesn’t happen overnight, but is possible with self-love and patience. By letting go of blame, getting professional help, and focusing on recovery, you can recover and enjoy your new life as a mother.