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BIRTH TRAUMA – Some Women Feel Extreme Grief and Loss 

 You may feel like you can’t move past this traumatic birth and the disappointment you feel about your birth outcome. But with support, empathy, time, and maybe some counseling, you will be able to move forward. Women’s feelings and reactions to an unexpected surgical birth can run from gratitude for a healthy baby, all the way to feelings of remorse to anger. Some women feel extreme grief and sorrow over the loss of the birth experience they had dreamed of. Not only must they heal physically, they need to heal from the emotional damage from the birth trauma they experienced. Many struggle for months and even years. SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM  OF THE PAGE TO FIND RESOURCES FOR BIRTH TRAUMA RECOVERY.

The Fallout of a Traumatic Birth:

  • PTSD- Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome
  • Postpartum Depression
  • Anxiety or Panic Disorder
  • Inability to bond with the newborn
  • Resentment toward baby
  • Blame themselves or others
  • Disappointment and loss of control
  • Despair and grief
  • Shame

The New Mother Needs Empathy and Acknowledgement of Her Feelings

The mother’s family or friends may not understand why she isn’t just happy to have a healthy baby. They may be puzzled and even annoyed at her reaction to her birth outcome. What she’ll need from others is empathy. The worst thing that can be said is, “Just accept it and move on.” “I don’t understand why you’re upset!  You have a healthy baby!”

What Can Friends and Family Do To Help?

This new mom is so busy caring for her new child, dealing with sleep deprivation, all while healing from major abdominal surgery. Here is what you can do to help her:

  1. Help around the house
  2. Do anything that allows the new mother time to rest and heal physically
  3. Encourage the new mom to be with her baby: nap with baby, cuddle, breastfeed
  4. Change baby’s diapers and then bring baby back to mom
  5. Cook
  6. Do laundry
  7. Also, giving her empathy and acknowledging her feelings can go a long way to help her heal emotionally. Even if you don’t understand her feelings, just acknowledging them can go a long way. She will be mourning the loss of a dream she envisioned. For some mothers, this is extremely traumatic.

Help Yourself Heal Emotionally:

  • Frequent doses of your baby will help you bond.
  • Get help with breastfeeding. Find a lactation consultant
  • Attend an ICAN meeting International Cesarean Awareness Network. Being around others and sharing with other mothers who have had similar experiences can help you feel less alone and isolated.
  • Join an online support group. You’ll be amazed how many women feel exactly as you do. 
  • Seek counseling from a licensed psychotherapist who specializes in postpartum support.
  • Though difficult, most women find it to be cathartic and healing to write their birth story.
  • Remember that 85% of women can have a successful VBAC.

It is Healthy to Mourn the Loss of Your Dream. 

  • Confusion is normal.
  • Acknowledge that it’s okay to be angry.
  • Acknowledge that it’s okay to be disappointed.
  • Be patient with yourself.
  • Be kind to yourself.
  • Spend a lot of time with your baby.
  • Ask for help.
  • Remember. You don’t need to do this on your own.