It’s Birth Trauma Awareness Week (14th -21st August 2017), a special week organised by the Birth Trauma Association (BTA) to raise awareness of how common birth trauma is and to support women and their families who’ve had a traumatic birth experience and are struggling to cope.
The problem is far greater than you’d think. It’s thought that up to 20,000 women every year experience a traumatic birth, with many reporting upsetting incidents including: loss of control; loss of dignity; poor pain management; feelings of not being heard or the absence of informed consent to medical procedures – particularly invasive practices such as induction, episiotomy or use of forceps.
A traumatic birth experience can have a devastating mental and physical impact. It can affect mothers’ ability to bond with their new baby and affect their relationships with family and friends. Partners can also be significantly affected by birth trauma and are often left feeling isolated and unable to share their feelings with others.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Some women may go on to develop serious psychological problems. In fact, it is now generally accepted that birth trauma is a Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD is an anxiety disorder caused by very stressful, frightening or distressing events.
Someone with PTSD often re-lives the traumatic event through nightmares and flashbacks, and may experience feelings of isolation, irritability and guilt. They may also have problems sleeping and find concentration difficult. These symptoms can be severe and persistent enough to have a significant impact on day-to-day life.
It’s acknowledged there is some overlap between post-natal depression (PND) and post-natal PTSD but the two conditions are different and therefore need to be treated separately. However, due to the similarity in symptoms, many women are often misdiagnosed as having PND by healthcare professionals and are prevented from accessing the appropriate treatment. This can actually make the problem worse.
It’s important to note that it’s not uncommon for women with PTSD to also have PND – but the presence of one does not always imply the presence of the other. PTSD can be treated relatively quickly but it can easily develop into PND which is a much more deep-rooted and long-term condition.
Legal help and advice
At Novum Law we have extensive experience helping families who have suffered severe trauma or who have sustained serious injuries during birth.
Our team of expert clinical negligence lawyers has represented mothers injured due to labour mismanagement and preventable medical errors. They have also helped families with children who have sustained injuries or developed conditions such as cerebral palsy or whose children have very sadly died due to poor medical treatment during childbirth.
For help and further advice, you can call us on 0800 884 0777 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about the work of the Birth Trauma Association (BTA), visit: www.birthtraumaassociation.org.uk. You can follow the BTA on Facebook and on Twitter.