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Previous Traumatic Birth Experience

Childbirth may turn out to be a wonderful experience for some women whereas few women may feel birth experience as traumatic causing mental or emotional problems. Previous traumatic birth may have a tremendous impact over subsequent pregnancies. Women with past experience of traumatic birth require assistance during healing period.

Traumatic birth experience involves any physical injury or psychological trauma during labour and childbirth. It can also be associated with fear of maternal or foetal death, unbearable pain during labour, and a prolonged difficult labour. If a woman has felt intense fear, helplessness and horror due to actual or perceived threat or serious injury to her or the baby, or baby’s death during birth, then the birth experience will be traumatic to her. Such injuries and threats to integrity may occur from episiotomy, Caesarean section, vacuum extraction, forceps extraction, pelvic examination, and internal monitoring. A traumatic birth experience is more likely if you have a history of psychiatric disorders such as posttraumatic stress disorder and depression or experienced domestic violence, or sexual abuse.

The after-effects of a previous traumatic birth include stress and anxiety that get intensified during the last trimester, or a request for an elective Caesarean section during the next pregnancy. It may also result in traumatic stress reactions, postpartum depression, or grief. Some women with past history of traumatic birth may also avoid future pregnancy.

Women with previous traumatic birth who request for elective Caesarean section will be counselled to make them understand the possibility of healing after childbirth trauma and the importance of careful planning that can make the birthing experience different from their previous. If you are suffering from traumatic stress, depression or grief after traumatic birth experience, you need support to recover from the birth trauma. Every woman with previous Caesarean birth or traumatic birth ought to be offered counselling that includes exploring and discussing the earlier traumatic birth experience, feelings pertaining to disappointment and fear of childbirth.