If you’re reading, this you might be a mom who experienced a birth trauma. You might be a mom who went through something life changing during your delivery that still haunts you. You might even be a mom who fights day in and day out to keep going despite how much that trauma tries to bring you down.

Birth trauma is common. Unfortunately, so many moms experience an even during their labor and delivery that they consider traumatic. And this is the defining aspect of a trauma – what YOU think was unbearable, life-threatening, or excruciatingly overwhelming.   

Now, as someone who lives and breathes the mental health world, I want to share with you a little bit about what trauma is and how post-traumatic stress disorder is referred to in a clinical sense. I think it’s important to have an idea of what is going on and a sense that you are not the only one who may be experiencing this.

What is a birth trauma?

In a clinical sense, a trauma is defined in several ways, but in a maternal mental health sense, this can include a long list of events that can happen during pregnancy and delivery.  According to Postpartum Support International, this list can include things like prolapsed cord, unplanned c-sections, NICU stays, poor communication during delivery, physical complications of birth (hemorrhage, preeclampsia, hysterectomy, perineal tears or even cardiac concerns. 

This being said, I want to make sure that it’s clear – anything YOU consider traumatic and that is affecting your daily life is considered a trauma.  You may have experienced some of the things above and NOT have considered them traumatic, too.  It’s all in the eye of the mama. 

What does PTSD look like as a mom?

PTSD can show up in many different ways, both physical and mental, and can really affect the every day flow of life.  Some symptoms include panic attacks, nightmares and even flashbacks to the trauma.  Others involve more a hyperarousal like a sensitive startle response, irritability, and difficulty sleeping.  Some moms avoid any reminders of the event which can include the hospital, people who were involved, or even details of the event.  Most commonly, moms will experience intrusive thoughts about the event, which are reoccuring thoughts that we can’t seem to shake off about the event. 

What can I do if I think I have experienced a birth trauma and need help?

1. Reach out to someone you trust – this can be family, friends or even a community worker like a pastor or mentor.  Telling someone that we are struggling and need support is hard, but it is so powerful when it comes to healing from trauma.

2. Reach out to Postpartum Support Charleston – we have volunteers who have experienced trauma and know that it’s not easy to work through.  You can call/text us at (843) 410-3585 or email us at contact@ppdsupport.org.

3. Set up an appointment with a therapist – there are several therapists in the area that specialize in maternal mental health and birth trauma. Reach out to us to get help in finding the best therapist for you. 

4. Give yourself grace – this is tough. So tough. Be kind to yourself and know that you are not alone.


Resources for birth trauma:

Postpartum Support International


How to Recognize and Recover from Childbirth Trauma

MGH Center for Women’s Mental Health


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