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Robin Elise Weiss, LCCE

Traumatic Birth

By December 18, 2012

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Mother, Father, Doctor in Labor

Something very few people talk about or acknowledge is traumatic birth. "A birth is defined as traumatic if the woman was or believed she or her baby was in danger of injury or death, and she felt helpless, out of control, or alone, and can occur at any point in labor and birth," says Cheryl Beck, researcher. According to a variety of studies, the rate of women experiencing a traumatic birth is between 25-34%.

When someone experiences a traumatic birth, the negative experience can lead to further complications, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other unwanted symptoms. Treatment can help. This treatment may include therapy, medications or a combination. In some cases, hospitalization may be needed.

What causes a traumatic birth? Beck cites the following as potential reasons a person may experience a traumatic birth:

  • Perceived lack of communication from the medical staff
  • Fear of unsafe care
  • Lack of choice regarding routine medical procedures
  • Lack of continuity of people caring for the mother/baby
  • Care being based solely on the delivery outcome

When I was talking about this in my childbirth class, so may of the moms and their partners were shocked to hear some of these reasons, particularly the lack of continuity of care and lack of choice. Many of the practices in my area have obstetricians that are on call only certain hours, and then you're handed off to the next person, no matter where you are in labor. So they have little control, other than to change doctors. Though one mom said that her birth plan became even more important to her as she learned this information and had decided to share it with her practitioner.

Other than awareness and education, what are you doing to try to avoid falling into this category?



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