For some mums giving birth is a happy experience mixed with a little anxiety. For others, it can prove to be incredibly traumatic, especially if things don’t go to plan.
However, if you want another baby but are held back by previous experience, it is possible to work through this and try for another pregnancy.
Here are a few tips on how!
3 tips on how to work through the post-birth trauma
It is estimated that around a third of women feel their birth experience was traumatic and of these group of women, up to 9% are diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
For others, there maybe exists a sense of guilt, blame or resentment surrounding the traumatic birth. It’s understandable then, the thought of having another baby causes these women anxiety and distress, putting some off even trying for another baby.
1. Talk to your partner or counsellor
Communicating your feelings about your previous birthing experience is a good place to start. If your partner was present during the birth chances are, your partner may also be traumatised.
Talking about it does a couple of things to help you resolve your anxiety:
- It gives you another point of view and you may discover aspects of the birth you may not have realised or were, quite frankly, in too much pain to take notice of. This may give you some closure if guilt or blame is some of what you’re feeling.
- It provides you both with an opportunity to debrief, which can be confronting. If you find this too hard to face or you can’t do this with your partner, contact a counsellor or approach a midwife at your hospital. Go over your birth notes, talking about any interventions and procedures used. Debriefing will leave you with a clearer understanding of what happened and why, giving you the opportunity to speak about your experience without judgement.
- Talking to someone you trust will give you the relief and validation of having your feelings acknowledged. This encourages you to acknowledge your trauma, release negative feelings associated with it and move forward so you can see that all birthing experiences are unique and not necessarily traumatic.
2. Understand the birthing process
Really familiarising and educating yourself with the birthing process can also aid in reducing your anxiety for your next birth. Talk to the hospital you choose to give birth at and ask them what options you have if complications arise.
By knowing what outcomes are possible, you may feel empowered and more informed when making the best choice for you and your baby during labour. This may also give you confidence knowing you will be well looked after if something does go wrong.
3. Regular counselling
Seeking consistent counselling during the course of your pregnancy may also assist in the realisation that all births are different.
By engaging the regular services of a counsellor, you can work through anxieties associated with birth, especially during the last stages of your pregnancy. By talking about your past fears, the hope is that you can then be present and take one day at a time.
Learning to be present and finding ways to cope with problems as they arise, will help you deal with the unknowns of labour. As always, having a positive support network around you will always help.
If PTSD is something you are struggling with, it’s time to seek the help you need.
Postnatal depression (PND) can affect mums and dads, here are the causes and symptoms and how to get help.
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This blog was written by Shara Smith who is a psychotherapist and a counsellor with over 12 years of experience in the mental health, life coaching and self-care sector. While she loves her husband and three kids, she also loves watching re-runs of Sex in the City and baking decadent cookies that only she gets to eat.