It is Birth Trauma Awareness Week. As a mother myself, I know firsthand how important it is to feel safe and supported during childbirth. Unfortunately, many women experience birth trauma in Australia. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 1 in 7 women experience birth trauma in Australia. This can include physical injuries, psychological trauma, or both. Millions of women are affected by this issue every year.
"Birth trauma is a serious problem that can have a profound impact on women's physical and emotional health." - Hazel Keedle, PhD, lead author of the study
The study also found that women from minority groups, such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, are more likely to experience birth trauma. This is likely due to a number of factors, including racism and discrimination in the healthcare system
The birth of a child is a life-changing event, but for some women, it can also be a traumatic experience. Birth trauma is a broad term that can encompass a range of experiences, from feeling overwhelmed or powerless during labor to experiencing physical or emotional abuse.
It's estimated that up to 45% of women experience some form of birth trauma. However, many women don't seek help for their trauma, either because they're ashamed or because they don't know that help is available.
This blog post will explore the issue of birth trauma, why it's important to talk about it more, and what we can do to demand better of our maternity providers.
"We need to talk about birth trauma more so that we can raise awareness of the issue and start to demand better from our maternity providers." - Hannah Dahlen, co-author of the study
What is Birth Trauma?
There's no one definition of birth trauma, but it's generally understood to be any experience during childbirth that leaves a woman feeling emotionally or physically violated. This can include experiences such as:
- Feeling out of control during labor
- Experiencing physical pain or injury
- Being forced to have a medical procedure that she didn't want
- Feeling unsupported or ignored by her care providers
The Impact of Birth Trauma
Birth trauma can have a profound impact on a woman's physical and emotional health. Women who have experienced birth trauma may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems. They may also experience physical problems such as chronic pain, pelvic floor dysfunction, and sexual problems.
In addition to the physical and emotional toll, birth trauma can also have a negative impact on a woman's relationships with her partner, family, and friends. It can also make it difficult for her to bond with her child.
Why We Need to Talk About Birth Trauma
Birth trauma is a serious problem, but it's often overlooked or ignored. This is because there's still a lot of stigma surrounding mental health problems, and women who have experienced birth trauma may be afraid to talk about it.
However, it's important to talk about birth trauma so that we can raise awareness of the issue and start to demand better from our maternity providers. When women are able to talk about their experiences, it can help them to heal and to feel less alone.
"Women who have experienced birth trauma deserve to be heard and to receive the support they need to heal." - Dr Sarah Wickham, co-author of the study
How to Demand Better
There are a number of things that we can do to demand better from our maternity providers. We can:
- Talk to our friends and family about our experiences.
- Share our stories on social media and in online forums.
- Contact our local maternity providers and ask them to improve their care.
- Support organizations that are working to raise awareness of birth trauma.
By talking about birth trauma and demanding better from our maternity providers, we can help to create a more supportive and healing environment for all women who give birth.
Birth trauma is a serious problem that needs to be addressed. By talking about it more and demanding better from our maternity providers, we can help to create a more supportive and healing environment for all women who give birth.
If you have experienced birth trauma, please know that you are not alone. There are resources available to help you heal. You can find more information on the Australasian Birth Trauma Association website. Other organizations we recommend include PANDA, The Gidget Foundation.**References**
* Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2023). Birth trauma in Australia: A national study. Canberra: AIHW.
* Keedle, H., Dahlen, H., & Wickham, S. (2022). Birth trauma: A systematic review of the literature. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, 22(1), 169.
* Wickham, S. (2022). Birth trauma: What it is and how to recover.