How can you find help and support if you have been affected by Birth Trauma/Perinatal PTSD?

If you have had a traumatic birth and/or feel you are suffering with Perinatal PTSD it is important you are able to seek the help and support you need. This can be difficult at a time when you are feeling at your most vulnerable.

If you are struggling remember;

  • Do not suffer in silence. Speak to someone, a partner, family or a trusted friend. Approach your Midwife, Health Visitor, GP or local perinatal/maternal/primary mental health service.
  • Remember you are not alone, there are others too who have been affected by birth trauma and PTSD.
  • Remember you are not to blame!
  • Look after yourself physically, try to get as much rest as you can and eat a good balanced diet.
  • Do activities that help you to relax, such as reading, going for a walk or listening to music.
  • Know your limitations and what you can do both physically and emotionally.
  • Speak to your hospital about your experience. Some women ask to see their medical notes and discuss exactly what happened to them and why. Some hospitals offer a debrief after birth, or birth reflection sessions.
  • Seek help and treatment. There are various treatments for PTSD such as counsellingEye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and medication.
  • Find local support groups or support groups on social media (such as Birth Trauma Association,  and Unfold Your Wings support page)
  • It can help to write about how you are feeling or what you have been through. You can keep a journal or notes about how you are feeling.

What kind of help/support may you be offered?

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy is often offered. It allows the person to challenge their thoughts and worries and see/think about them in a different way.
  • Counselling can also be of benefit to help process and come to terms with trauma from a difficult pregnancy, birth or time in a neonatal unit.
  • Mindfulness is another approach that helps us to become aware of our thoughts and feelings and see how they are unhelpful to us. It helps us stand back from our thoughts and see patterns. Over time we can notice when our thoughts are taking over and this helps us realise we can work to prevent this and find ways so that our thoughts do not control us.
  • Medication can help lessen the physical symptoms of anxiety or trauma and provide much-needed respite to aid recovery or engage in therapy.

Please be as honest and as open as you can with your GP or healthcare professional so they can suggest the best treatment for you.

Looking for support?

When seeking support for birth trauma or PTSD it can be a minefield knowing who to trust. False promises, unrealistic guarantees and experimental therapies can lead to damage. Also, remember that if any treatments are as effective as they claim there will be research to back this up.

So when looking at treatments ask;

  • What are the results that are being promised?
  • Is there a promise of a cure or a quick result?
  • Are they realistic?
  • Is the treatment evidence-based?
  • Is there some improvement as the treatment progresses?

Remember also that everyone is an individual, with unique experiences, personalities and needs. Not all treatments will work for everyone. This doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with you as a person, only that that particular treatment wasn’t right. Finding what does work can take time.

Can you trust them?

What about the people promising help or cures?

Again it can be a minefield, and a local search of any area will turn up numerous counsellors, hypnotherapists, therapists and so on. It can be hard to know who to go to for treatments that will aid recovery.

There are many organisations to check therapists such as the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), or Accredited counsellors, coaches, psychotherapists and hypnotherapists (ACCPH). All practitioners should be registered with some form of organisation that provides them with support, advice, supervision and accreditation.

You can also ask;

  • What training and qualifications do they hold?
  • What results do they profess the treatments offer?
  • Do they have genuine, honest references?
  • Do they promise a ‘cure’, or rather support to help manage symptoms?
  • Is their treatment evidence-based?
  • Is their research peer-reviewed, modern, repeatable and of representative sample size?

Sensationalised claims of being able to cure birth trauma or PTSD quickly are unrealistic and a red flag to move on. Birth Trauma and PTSD need specialist treatment and support.

The recovery from Birth Trauma and Perinatal PTSD may be a long and difficult journey, but it is possible.

Seek help.

Take each day slowly.

Be gentle with yourself and don’t expect too much of yourself.

Just like any illness, recovery takes time, help and support.

Discuss if medication can help you while you recover.

Lean on those who love you and accept their help.

Talk about your feelings if you can and look for local support groups when you are ready.

But most of all don’t give up! You will recover and break out of the dark cocoon of birth trauma and PTSD.

You can find out more about accessing support in the video on birth trauma and PTSD from the Out of the Blue project from Best Beginnings.