Following a traumatic event, it is normal to experience anxiety responses. In most people these resolve with time. However if anxiety symptoms continue and have not resolved within a month or so, then a diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) may well be appropriate.
We usually recognise these as things like, natural disasters, terrorist incidents, serious accidents, military combat, or violent personal assaults like rape.
A traumatic experience can be any experience involving the threat of death or serious injury to an individual or another person close to them (e.g. their baby) so it is now understood that PTSD can be a consequence of a traumatic birth. This may be the result of an emergency caesarian section or a baby being rushed away for resuscitation.
PTSD can occur with childbirth
Some women may experience events during childbirth (as well as in pregnancy or immediately after birth) that would traumatise any normal person.
For some women, it is not always obvious dramatic events that trigger childbirth trauma. Other factors such as loss of control, may be highly traumatic for them, (particularly if they have had certain negative experiences in the the past.)
It is normal for people to experience some or all of the symptoms described below following a traumatic event.
These symptoms often resolve themselves after a month or so. However, if you continue to experience these symptoms then psychiatrists call this post traumatic stress disorder and you may need some help to relieve the symptoms.
Effects with pregnancy/childbirth/parenting
Women who have complex PTSD may find that pregnancy and the postnatal period is a particularly difficult time for them as it can reawaken memories; of previous trauma, the way they were parented, or previous losses (e.g. miscarriage).
Issues which may arise include: feeling overly protective of your baby, difficulty bonding with your baby or feeling afraid of your baby.
“I get afraid of someone abusing her…I’m so sure it will happen; I think it’s just a matter of time…. I even worry when my husband is changing her nappy and wonder if he is having thoughts which is completely ridiculous because he never would but I can’t help it”
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