What Is A Traumatic Birth? It's Not All That Uncommon

by Lindsay E. Mack

When asked to name the happiest day of their lives, many parents will refer to the day their children were born. And yes, for many parents this is a day of absolute joy. But not every mother encounters childbirth in such a positive light, and in some cases, the experience may be traumatizing. So what is a traumatic birth, and how does it affect women who have coped with them?

Traumatic births may vary greatly. As explained by Baby Center, a traumatic birth involves distress for the mother, whether this is due to difficulties with physical or emotional problems. The physical aspects of childbirth cannot be overstated. If a woman has to cope with tearing or an emergency C-section, for instance, then she may experience feelings of trauma, as further explained by Baby Center. Furthermore, emotional distress can also lead to a traumatic birth. As noted in Psychology Today, anything from unrealistic expectations of the birth experience to feeling neglected by the hospital's medical staff may contribute to the experience of a traumatic birth.

Unfortunately, the traumatic feelings often do not go away with the delivery of the child. According to the Birth Trauma Association (BTA), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) may occur after this difficult type of child birth. Although you may associate this condition with persons who have been through combat or natural disasters, it can definitely affect women who suffered a traumatic childbirth, as further explained by the BTA. Simply put, PTSD is a normal response to a frightening event, and a complicated childbirth can be particularly scary.


If you do experience a traumatic birth, keep in mind that, for better or worse, you are far from alone. According to Postpartum Support International (PSI), around nine percent of women cope with some form of PTSD following the birth of their child. And as further explained by PSI, the symptoms of postpartum PTSD may include flashbacks to the traumatic birth, an aversion to things that remind you of the event, and even a sense of unreality. If any of these symptoms describe your own birth experience, then don't hesitate to reach out to doctors, counselors, or loved ones for support. Both you and your child deserve to move on and be happy.