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PTSD from childbirth(26 Posts)
I had my first child in December and was so excited. I did the research and went to antenatal classes at the hospital to find out my options and what it may be like. I did everything they suggested, eat healthy, stay active, and prepare a birthplan of methods of pain relief.
My labour however, didnt go remotely to how i loosely planned out. I wanted pethadine - they game me some in the begginning, but it wore off. They said theyd give me more but didnt. I asked for a waterbirth. They didnt give it. I couldnt use gas and air. I reluctantly asked for epidural. They said theyd arrange it and never did. I had no pain relief as a result. Half the time they disappeared and my partner had to leave me to go get someone. It was a shambles.
My baby was so big that everytime she came close to coming out, she went back in. The midwife, kept doing a weird massage thing around my cervix that repeatedly induced another contractio , so it was just constant contractions. And without permission, she did a episiotomy on me and literally yanked her out.
For months i have been having flashbacks and nightmares of my experience, and ive missed out on so much of my babys development. My doc thought nothing was wrong, but (eventually) recommended a therapist who has diagnosed me with ptsd and post natal depression.
Has anyone had any other similar experiences of hospital incompetance in childbirth that resulted in ptsd? I suppose that i just need to talk to someone
I had EMDR for trauma after childbirth. Only diagnosed 3yrs on.
Me too. Please ask your gp for help. Ask someone to be your advocate if it is too stressful. It is shit. I really feel for you.
Just realised your gp is already doing something (eventually) - Google the Birth Trauma Association. If your partner is around they might need help too.
I had a traumatic birth 10 years ago with my daughter. I had a terrible time, my baby was very ill and no one helped me. I didn't get any help or support from GP, HV, no one. Looking back I think I had severe PND and PTSD. I had visions of hurting my baby and I wanted to die. Yet I slipped through the cracks in the care system.
It took (bravely) me getting pregnant 6 years afterwards (as I vowed I would never go thru that trauma again) to get the help I desperately needed. I had a nervous breakdown during the second pregnancy and ended up under the perinatal mental health team. I was much better supported and begun getting the help and support I'd been searching for years for.
Please, please, please go to a sympathetic GP. Look at your surgery's website and it should have the doctors listed there and their specialities. Choose someone who is interested in mental health. Ask if you can be referred to a perinatal mental health team. They are their to support mother's and their baby's until the baby reaches their first birthday.
Birth Trauma Association are very good. I've been to them before and try another website on a lady called Sheila Kitzinger. She is very good and has lots of information and helpline, as does BTA. I've spoken to Sheila on the phone before for help!
DO NOT suffer in silence. You need help to get thru this. It has taken 10 years for me to finally get to the stage where I can talk about my first labour and not cry or get depressed about it. Contact me if you want to talk. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Yes, I am in recovery from PTSD with dissociative disorders due to a badly managed labour 8.5 years go. Very fast labour, understaffed hospital, unsympathetic midwives, no pain relief, no support from husband (was out of his depth and washed his hands of it) and no family (live abroad). It was five years before I was diagnosed with PTSD, dissociative amnesia, depersonalization/derealisation. Physical health deteriorated badly in that time, self harmed. Tried to get help from GP but was brushed off with `stress, come back in six months'. Went to a different GP who is wonderful.
She referred me to counselling, I had a year of it and made reasonable progress but it didn't completely stop feelings of constant panic and fear and wanting to self harm. Changed counsellors and on his advice had EMDR - it made the most amazing difference, and very quickly as well. Have worked with this counsellor only for five sessions but am feeling a million times better and am now, more often than not, back to my old pre-trauma self. I don't understand how or why EMDR works but it did.
Please do follow up with the counselling and keep trying until you find someone that works for you. There are some good books out there about birth trauma that might give some solace in that you realise you are not alone and - importantly - it's not your fault. It is entirely possible to recover from this - it's difficult, hard and no fun whatsoever but can most definitely be done. I felt no positive emotion about my child for five years due to my experiences, but now have a wonderful, close and loving relationship with her and she is a happy, well adjusted girl despite having had a traumatised mother.
Thank you so much for all of your replies. To br honest i didnt think id get any! Im glad that im not alone but sad that its happened to others.
My therapist has been amazing throughout my treatment and we think we know where its all stemming from - the unathorised episiotomy.
I just cant fathom as to why the midwives didnt give me any relief as i was clearly in distress. When ive recovered im going to make a complaint and see if i can take them to court. They cant continue this service
Im glad that in the end my beautiful baby came out perfictly healthy, it was just the method in which it was done.
GPs need to be more aware of this too. As mine didnt seem to think that it was ptsd and just wanted to stick me on antidepressants. He didnt think birth could be traumatic
I had an episiotomy with my firstborn. I believe it was fine as a matter of emergency because it was becoming imperative that the baby got out quickly and safely.
Given the fact that I was in active second stage labour at the time, and that the cut was done as a matter of emergency, I don't recall being asked to authorise at that moment. I would consider it pointless being asked for authorisation during late labour. I would have been unable to focus on any rational thought during pushing.
A birth de-brief might help you. You could as your hospital about this. It may help you understand why the episiotomy was done, if ponies soon was sought and if not why not.
Correction: . I believe it was
fine done as a matter of emergency...
Purple I understand your feelings of bewilderment about not having pain relief. I have a copy of my hospital notes from the labour - strongly recommend you get yours if you can, I just had to write a letter to the hospital requesting them and they posted them to me.
I found the narrative of my labour very distressing to read but it has been so important for finding out what happened. Written in my notes, more than once and by different people, is `mother severely distressed' and yet no pain relief was given. I was distressed to the point that I fully dissociated - there was a split second in my labour where I realized I might not make it and my brain just switched off. I have black voids in my memory where I simply have no recollection of what happened; I only know from reading my notes, and speaking to my then husband, what went on. I have no memories of my own despite being fully conscious with no drugs; a baby turned up on my breast and I have no idea how she got there.
I felt very abandoned at a time of serious need and robbed of memories and motherhood. Obviously having come out of it with a healthy baby is a very very precious thing but, as you say, it was the method in which it was done. Caused much unnecessary suffering. I had difficulty trusting for a long time after that.
Am pleased you have a good therapist so you can work through these issues now and get yourself well. As a mother you are your baby's most important thing and it is so worth investing in your mental health.
Yes another survivor here.
I had dc3 6 years ago, very traumatic, successfully sued to nhs for medical negligence.
Was diagnosed with PTSD had therapy, counselling and EMDR.
Wish I'd started medication sooner, it made the world of difference to me and I'm still on it now.
Still experience hyper vigilance and struggle with anything medical even the dentist.
Sending you lots of love, please seek support from your GP and don't be afraid xx
Ive requested my notes as a part of my therapy but the nhs want to charge me £50 for them. Cheek. Theyre my medical records i shouldnt have to fork out for them. My therapist has put a request in to try and get them free so we'll see how that goes
Im the same with blocking out memories. My partner says things happened that i just cant remember. My therapist is trying to help see if somewhere in this is where my ptsd is coming from. The predominant one is when she cut me. He doesnt think that she numbed me and apparently i was screaming. I dont remember any of this.
I thought i was being oversensitive about all this at first, but im extemily disappointed to hear how frequent this happens. It should be mentioned in antenatal care so women can spot ptsd and seek help sooner
Can your therapist help you get a referral to a psychiatrist, to a) confirm your diagnosis (and hopefully stop your GP dicking you about) and b) to get hold of your notes and discuss them with you?
My therapist is i think either a psychiatrist or psycologist (can never remember the difference). Shes sent a request to get my notes for me saying that they are for medical purposes so i shouldnt have to pay. Im just waiting to hear from the hospital but theyre dragging their heels now -_-
Purplemonsta, I had a traumatic birth experience in February where I ended up having an emergency c section. At the time I couldn't face speaking about it as I was having horrible flashbacks everytime I closed my eyes but I now want a debrief but they never get back to me. I've been referred for counselling but have been told I will only get 5 sessions. How many sessions have you been able to get?
They said to me 6 sessions, but i was told that if they think you need more they will offer more. Ive already had 6 but am still recieving sessions. It might differ in different boroughs, i dont know.
Word of advice though; ive learned the more you push away or suppress the memory, the more youre feeding it to come back stronger. Therapy will help you, in a controlled environment, to bring the memories up and adjust to them so you can control the emotions linked to it. Just be as open and honest as you can, and hope it goes well for you :-)
Also there should be a department within the hospital that deal with medical records requests. After phoning all around the place i found that my maternity notes were stored with the Antenatal department. Maybe start there first? My Antenatal dept gave me an email address which i could formally request the notes, or alternatively check the hospital website to see if you can get any other numbers to call up on?
Hope that helps
Thank you! I'll definitely try ringing the maternity ward and asking for advice about my notes and about a debrief. I'd like my notes to take to counselling with me.
And yes you're right, it is better to not suppress or ignore my memories and i realise I'll never forget what happened but I'd like to feel more comfortable and accepting of it, rather than scared and upset. I also think it triggers my anxiety which I'm usually really capable of managing. Don't get me wrong, my baby was totally worth it all, but it doesn't take away the fact it was traumatic. I hope your talking therapy helps you and you can feel better about it all x
I had e m d r for similar and it was relatively quick and worked! My e m d r therapist said counselling could make things worse. As I understand it when you have ptsd your memories are stuck in the happening now part of your brain rather than them being in the past bit of your brain. E m d r helps moves them to the right place. You still remember what happened and feel sad but it feels like something in the past and not so acute.
be aware that some Trusts charge up to £50 for your medical notes, but if you get your therapist to do it for medical purposes you can get them for free.
yes the 'happening now' is exactly how my CBT therapist described it. it will get worse before it gets better but as long as you follow your therapist you should start to feel changes that will eventually help cope with the emotions and 'file' the memory in the correct place.
also I would add that it would be worth to speak to your partner about it too. my partner thought that he was useless and powerless to stop my pain then and now, and it has caused problems. see if he can come along to a session to see that its understandable and isn't his fault
Don't ever be fobbed off with "oh well, you've got a healthy baby so it was all worth it/just put it behind you". I hope you get the help you need because you definitely need it. I did. It's what you and your family deserve. Flashbacks are truly horrible.
Also second pp comments about help for your partner - they will be traumatised too and full of conflicting emotions. It is assumed that they can cope. This horrible visceral thing affects partners too.
I went through it with DD1 4 years ago now. I was appallingly treated and, although the pain of it's numbed with time, I still have flashbacks at certain triggering times of year now (usually the night before DD1's birthday is a big one for me).
It did a huge chunk of damage to my marriage - we've never 100% made it back from where we got to and I'm a completely different person as a result of it all - still on antidepressants now years down the line and I've no bloody intention of coming off them and spending my entire life feeling shit!
The "oh well baby's here now" comments really wind me up. I put it behind me every day of my life dealing with everyday life, enjoying the kids etc... it's still there, and it still causes me problems - but you get the odd idiot thinking you choose to dwell on it and wallow in the trauma and crap like that.
I had counselling which helped a bit (the analogy I got given by someone was that it's like packing a suitcase - you can shove all the crap in and slam it down but it's never going to shut easily or stay shut, but if you take each bit out, fold it up properly and pack it away neatly then it's much easier to close the suitcase up and get on with your holiday... one of my counsellors has now nicked that analogy for future clients!) I think the best thing for me though (not that I'm advocating this one!) was that I ended up pregnant with DD2 very very quickly after DD1 (we're talking one night and I was upduffed again) and her birth went so smoothly, plus the staff at the other hospital were so kind and caring and horrified by what I'd been through before, that I realised I had had an utterly abnormally shit time with DD1 and hadn't just been some kind of crap woman who'd "failed" at childbirth.
Miaow - before labour i did say i wanted another child not too long after this one, but the thought just fills me with dread. I really want her to have a sibling, but im terrified itll happen again.
Im contemplating that - if we do have another - of going private. I dont think i could go through the whole experience again
Even after the birth when we were in the maternity ward, i still couldnt get pain killers because everytime i asked they went to get them and never returned. My baby wasnt feeding either. Nobody cared. I had to physically get out of bed (which was painful beyond belief with an episiotomy), walk down corridoors, and literally yell at someone to help me. I never want to do it all with the NHS again
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