When I started out as a birth trauma therapist in 2010 there was only 8 other registered birth trauma therapists here in the UK. Birth Trauma (a form of PTSD that can occur after a woman has experienced what she perceives to be a traumatic birth) was a little known subject at the time and many women were instead misdiagnosed as having post natal depression. Now things are very different and as birth trauma has become better understood the access to support and diagnosis has thankfully grown. I want to take this opportunity to share with you what support is out there for you or a loved one if you believe you or they are experiencing PTSD post-birth or birthing experience. But first lets just re-cap on what the signs and symptoms of birth trauma are just incase you are reading this and aren’t certain if this article applies to you or your loved one.
So some of the signs that you may be experiencing birth trauma can include but aren’t limited to:
- Having flashbacks, nightmares or persistent memories about the birth.
- Distress over anything that reminds you of birth – including anniversaries, birthdays, other women’s birth stories.
- Avoidance of activities – baby groups, places you might be forced to think about birth.
- Feeling emotionally detached from others/numb or…conversely very over protective and fearful for yourself, your baby or your personal space.
- Being hospital phobic or having a dislike of anything clinical.
- Difficulty remembering the birth – only fragmented memories.
- Fear of sex/intimacy.
- Guilt or shame.
- Fear of having anymore children or becoming pregnant.
Help is available and you do not have to struggle alone. Nor is this a psychological state you will experience forever but you do need the right nurturing and knowledgeable support.
NHS Counselling Depending on what area you live in you may be able to self-refer to your local community IAPT service here http://www.lets-talk-iapt.nhs.uk/refer/ Alternatively your GP, midwife or health visitor should be able to help you with a referral. Please be sure to share with them that the sooner the support can be accessed the greater the chance of recovery from PTSD.
Private Counselling So this is the category I’m in. What this means is that you pay to see a therapist who has a specialism in trauma and you will be seen (subject to the therapists availability) within 8 weeks. If the therapist can’t see you within 8 weeks then they may be able to recommend other therapists or organisations that could support you within 8 weeks.
You can search for a therapist in your geographical area or with certain specialisms using the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy ‘find a therapist’ search engine here or via the UK Council for Psychotherapy: psychotherapy.org.uk/find-a-therapist/
Here in Yorkshire I can recommend Ashley Parker who is a very warm and nurturing natal trauma therapist based in York. Ashley works face to face but also online. Her website can be found here: aparkertherapy.co.uk
The Birth Trauma Association (UK division) is an organisation set up by mothers for mothers who have previously experienced trauma. Their website is here: birthtraumaassociation.org.uk
Birthrights isn’t a therapeutic organisation (as in you won’t be able to access counselling via the team as far as I know) but instead is a VERY USEFUL website to have if you are wanting to look into your rights in childbirth. Part of trauma therapy can be to plan for a different experience next time and this is one of the many ways where the Birthrights website can be incredibly helpful: birthrights.org.uk
AIMS (Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services) is a very supportive and knowledgeable group of researchers, advocates and campaigners who also offer a helpline service. aims.org.uk
Solace for Mothers is an organization designed for the sole purpose of providing and creating support for women who have experienced childbirth as traumatic. Their website is solaceformothers.org
The PANDAS Foundation helps support and advise any parent who is experiencing a perinatal mental illness. There are also here to inform and guide family members, carers, friends and employers as to how they can support someone who is suffering. pandasfoundation.org.uk/about-us
If you know of any other services or support that you would like to see on this list please do let me know. The more information and links the better.
I hope this is helpful and I’m sending you love….X #loveyourlife #birthtrauma #support