In 2019, about 3.8 million babies were born in the United States. Many of the births went as planned or at least were uneventful. However, about 50,000 women every year suffer serious complications as a result of pregnancy and childbirth. Sometimes the complications result in birth trauma. In turn, birth trauma can lead to other complications like post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD in new moms.
What Is Birth Trauma?
The term’ birth trauma’ actually covers a wide range of experiences for both babies and mothers. Babies can suffer mild to extreme physical damage, some life-altering. Birth trauma for babies can be caused by a difficult delivery, misdiagnosis, and improper use of medical devices like forceps and vacuum extraction. The psychological effect is difficult to determine.
Giving birth is an intense physical and emotional experience. Moms may feel helpless, overwhelmed, or even bullied by medical personnel during a child’s birth. Birth trauma can happen for reasons beyond anyone’s control or because medical providers failed to see the signs that a baby is too large or a mom’s blood pressure is too high. Physical trauma can cause lasting emotional damage.
How Can Childbirth Cause PTSD?
There’s no denying that childbirth is physically strenuous. But how many of us see the mental and emotional toll? Childbirth, and especially birth trauma, can cause PTSD in new moms.
There are several reasons for women’s traumatic birth experiences, including:
- They have little or no control over what is happening.
- Many women fear for the health and wellbeing of themselves and their children.
- Pain is common, but extreme physical pain can cause PTSD in new moms.
- Doctors and nurses do not communicate well during the birth.
It’s important to note that there is another common form of psychological disorder related to childbirth – postpartum depression. However, this condition is different from PTSD in new moms. Postpartum depression symptoms include depression, sadness, lack of concentration, and difficulty bonding with the baby. PTSD is more severe and can be experienced by anyone, new mom or not.
PTSD in new moms might show as:
- Hyper-vigilance, especially about the baby;
- Severe emotional distress;
- Sleep disorders and nightmares; and
- Intrusive memories.
Women who have PTSD might be triggered by other new moms, babies, or any experience that brings back their traumatic memories of childbirth.
Sometimes PTSD in New Moms Is Caused by Medical Malpractice
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