Could problems or extreme pain while giving birth cause PTSD?

On Behalf of | Apr 24, 2023 | Birth Injuries |

Many people assume that they couldn’t have PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, if they haven’t gone through an intense trauma war, rape or an accident. However, it’s possible for anyone to suffer from trauma. If you perceive that your life, psychological well-being or bodily integrity are at risk during an event, then you might develop PTSD as a result.

Thus, problems during childbirth could cause trauma. A lot of moms have gone through an experience that could have affected them psychologically. In West Virginia, approximately 34% of babies required a cesarean delivery, but this isn’t the only possible childbirth event that could cause PTSD.

Traumatic experiences during childbirth

Severe pain while giving birth could cause trauma. Intense fear that you or your baby might die can also traumatize you. Situations that may cause this include excessive blood loss, early or unexpected delivery, use of forceps during birth and any medical intervention to save you or your baby.

When something goes wrong with your baby during birth, it could traumatize you as well. Birth injuries and stillbirths are examples of these situations.

Diagnosing PTSD

Only a psychologist is qualified to diagnose PTSD and other mental health afflictions. However, there are symptoms to watch out for to know if you need to seek help from a professional to heal from a traumatic event. Symptoms of trauma include:

  • Intrusive thoughts
  • Avoiding situations, objects or places that remind you of the event
  • Depression, anxiety, anger, shame and other pervasive, unpleasant emotions
  • Sweating when something reminds you of the event
  • Difficulty remembering the entire experience
  • Overly negative beliefs about others, the world or yourself

Intrusive thoughts are unwanted, repetitive thoughts about the experience. They often cause you to feel distressed and extremely upset. You might avoid conversations about childbirth and anything that could remind you of it, and you may experience panic attacks when you think about it. Any physiological response, such as increased heartbeat, difficulty breathing, and sweating, when you think of the event or come across something that reminds you of it, is a symptom of trauma.

Childbirth, while a meaningful event for you as a mother, could traumatize you if it didn’t go smoothly. This is no reason to feel ashamed. When the brain isn’t able to handle the pain it’s going through, it sustains damage, which professionals call trauma.