Post traumatic stress syndrome after childbirth

A delivery is not something you do 'for a while'. It is a decent job that every woman really needs to be on. Some deliveries are reasonably smooth, but other deliveries are experienced by the mother as extremely heavy and intense. And that is quite understandable. If you have experienced the birth so intensively that it affects your life, then there may be one Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome after delivery (PTTS)

Causes Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome after delivery (PTSD)

There are few women who are very much looking forward to a birth. Although it is a wonderful and wonderful event, every woman knows one thing for sure: the delivery is going to be pretty painful. That is not the only one. In addition to the pain of the contractions and the pressing, you are also extremely vulnerable and partly surrendered to the skills and knowledge of others. You do not control your delivery yourself and you should not underestimate this sense of impotence.

A post traumatic stress syndrome after childbirth can have various causes.

  1. Heavy birth:
    For example, emergency Cesarean section, art redemption, painful delivery or a very long delivery or short delivery.
  2. Complications during pregnancy:
    Think of pregnancy poisoning, preterm birth, pre-eclampsia etc.
  3. Nasty experiences during childbirth:
    For example, little support from care providers or your partner. Poor information provision during the delivery so you had no idea what was going on. The feeling that you lose control, great feeling of powerlessness, or a life-threatening situation.
  4. Psychological factors:
    Earlier trauma such as abuse or violence, depression during or after delivery. Be very anxious for the delivery or you can not deal with stress adequately.

Symptoms Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome after pregnancy

In general, there is a trauma when one is in a life-threatening situation and has difficulty giving this event a place. In the case of post traumatic stress syndrome, it is a life-threatening situation of the mother herself or the baby or one of you could have been seriously injured.

Whether the birth was traumatic is very subjective. Some women have had a delivery that was not heavy on paper, but they can still suffer from trauma. For example, because they felt powerless, they felt like they were failing or maybe the pain was too intense. A heavy delivery is therefore not a 'requirement'.

How do you know if there is a Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome after delivery?

Usually you notice the symptoms below:

  • Re-experience of your trauma

    If you have post-traumatic stress syndrome after giving birth, it may be that you relive your childbirth and what you have been very concerned about. The re-experiences are often triggered by situations in daily life that remind you of your birth. Think of a delivery on TV, photos of your pregnancy or, for example, the sight of the hospital where you gave birth.

  • You avoid stimuli associated with your trauma

    Consciously or unconsciously you avoid stimuli such as images, places, situations (such as other deliveries) or objects that remind you of childbirth. For example avoiding hospitals, maternity ward or baby showers (due to the fear of hearing childbirth stories), certain TV programs or the midwifery practice. In addition, some women also avoid certain thoughts and feelings that have to do with the trauma.

  • Be more sensitive to stimuli

    If there is a post traumatic stress syndrome after delivery, there may be increased irritability. This manifests itself in being quickly irritated, sleeping problems, concentration problems, being very wary or scaring faster. Sometimes women with trauma are afraid to sleep because they suffer from nightmares or are afraid that something happens to their child.

  • Negative thoughts and feelings

    Negative thoughts and feelings can also be the result of a trauma. For example, feelings of guilt because you think that the heavy delivery is your fault. Distrust in others, little self-confidence, fear, anger and shame are also common negative feelings in post-traumatic stress syndrome after childbirth. It can also happen that you have trouble enjoying your life.

The last two symptoms, increased irritability and negative feelings, can also be symptoms of postpartum depression. For that reason, the two are sometimes confused. That is a shame because you will not receive the right guidance.

The difference is mainly that women with depression feel lethargic, lonely and very sad. This is often the case, to a lesser extent, with post traumatic stress syndrome after childbirth. In the stress syndrome, there is also more re-experience of the trauma and increased vigilance.

Can you prevent a post traumatic stress syndrome?

A post-traumatic stress syndrome usually occurs because of complications during childbirth. For example, a painful spine is given, bleeding occurs, you are cut or an emergency Cesarean section is required. These are all unforeseen circumstances that can not be properly prevented.

The only thing you can do is to ensure that you are well informed about all situations that may occur. Through a good preparation you know a bit what you can expect. For example, read about emergency caesarean sections, complications during childbirth, spinal puncture and medical intervention during childbirth.

It is also extremely important that you have a team around you that you trust, inform you well before and during the birth and that you have strong support. It can also help you to follow a pregnancy course that prepares you as much as possible for the delivery itself.

Processing traumatic delivery

A post traumatic stress syndrome after delivery should never be denied or blocked. It is a very heavy burden that you do not have to bear yourself. You do not really have to be ashamed or feel weaker than others. There are many more women who found the birth very traumatic. Talk to these ladies and never be told to appoint yourself. Also try talking about it with friends and / or family. Sometimes it can help to plan a conversation with the person who supervised your delivery.

If you suffer from a trauma, please also look on this website of Stichting Bevallingstrauma. Here you can find the right help for processing and a lot of relevant information.

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