In a great article in Psychology Today, Dr. Alana Siegel discusses the important issue of Post Traumatic Stress as a result of traumatic child birth.
For most people the term “birth trauma” brings to mind trauma to babies, but the Reproductive Justice Movement is helping to raise awareness of an insidious form of trauma that happens with great frequency: obstetric violence. This violence, in the form of psychological coercion (“I’ll call child service and take your baby if you don’t consent”), to verbal insults, to physical assault, is far too common in the American Maternity care system.
While well-meaning people respond to stories of birth trauma with “well, a healthy baby is all that matters,” Dr. Siegel’s article cuts to the heart of the problem: a healthy baby is great, but it isn’t all that matters. When mom’s not health, the family isn’t healthy.
PTSD related to child birth has short term negative outcomes such as an increase in post-partum depression, a decrease in mother-child bonding, and a (often) decrease in breast feeding. Long term consequences include women being unable (from physical trauma) or unwilling (from psychological trauma) to have more children.
Understanding that these things happen, and that they happen frequently, is the first step in stopping them. Most mothers, babies, and families depend on the maternity care industry, and its time the industry provided that care in a responsible and respectful way.