Birth Trauma

Birth Trauma

A woman going through pregnancy and birth is in an increasingly emotionally and physically vulnerable condition. Approximately 1 in 10 women suffer ante natal depression.  How a woman experiences pregnancy and birth, and how she feels she has been treated (her physical and emotional environment) will contribute to her mental wellbeing post natally.

  • Did you feel well informed, relaxed and confident going into birth?
  • Did you feel safe, supported and unhurried through birth?
  • Were options and implications fully discussed with you? Were your choices met by her caregivers?
  • Were you emotionally and physically supported postnatally?

If your pregnancy sadly didn't reach term and you miscarried, were you physically and emotionally supported?  If your baby was stillborn, were you treated with care and supported through your grief?

In the absence of the above support, ante natal depression, birth trauma and/or post natal depression are more likely.

Contributing Factors

There are many factors contributing towards birth trauma or post natal depression.

Antenatally these may include:

  • not feeling adequately informed by caregivers 
  • caregivers creating unecessary anxiety ("it's a very big baby" - it may not be. Low lying placenta: " you may need a csection" - probably not)
  • feeling under pressure (eg. induction)
  • feeling unsupported and unheard
  • having to 'fight' for the type of birth you want (home birth, water birth, a 'normal' birth)
  • not being believed (repeatedly being told to "Stay at home. You're not ready")

Going into and through birth:

  • not being believed (repeatedly being told to "Stay at home. You're not ready")
  • starting birth or arriving at hospital already in a highly anxious or panicky state
  • induced birth (contractions abnormally powerful & painful, baby potentially distressed, requiring further interventions and possibly 3 days duration in hospital)
  • a long, exhausting birth or a short and very painful birth
  • birth plan not respected
  • the 'cascade of interventions' - (one intervention resulting in another until instrumental delivery or emergency c-section inevitable)
  • lack of privacy and dignity (labouring in a corridor for hours)
  • lack of respect by staff, lack of empathy (going through birth on an antenatal ward and husband sent home, so alone and scared for six hours)
  • inadequate pain relief (anaesthetists unavailable)
  • loss of control
  • being left alone for long periods
  • home birth requiring ambulance transfer to hospital
  • emergency c-section
  • ill-managed placental delivery
  • fear for baby's wellbeing  
  • fear for own life 


  • lack of support: emotional and physical, both in hospital and at home
  • lack of support breastfeeding
  • emotional and physical exhaustion

Previous Trauma or Phobic Response

A previous trauma when left untreated (including previous miscarriage, botched surgery, traumatic birth, childhood abuse or any form of violence), is likely to lead to further traumatising. Phobias relating to hospitals, such as needle phobias, if left untreated, will also increase the likelihood of further trauma.

Symptoms of Post Natal PTSD

The symptoms of Post Natal PTSD when left untreated can remain indefinitely, and will include all or some of the following:

  • Frightening, intrusive thoughts and memories
  • Flashbacks of the ordeal
  • Feeling emotionally 'numb' and not connected with the world or your baby
  • Anxiety and Panic attacks
  • Poor sleep and nightmares
  • Feeling irritable, angry, hypervigilant (on edge)
  • An obsessive need to talk about the ordeal
  • The need to avoid any reminders of the ordeal  


Heading Towards or Already Suffering Post Natal Depression - does this sound familiar?

  • Lack of sleep very quickly contributes to our inability to function properly and think clearly -
  • Lack of sleep, feeling anxious, ruminating, feeling numb and detached from our baby -
  • Difficulty bonding, (baby probably not very calm either), and now feeling guilty -
  • Guilty about  lack of feeling for our baby, guilty about our feelings towards partner (who may have no idea of the extent of our distress) -
  • Feeling isolated and further distanced from a world that believes we are thrilled to be a parent. 

But, this downward spiral can stop. 

PTSD symptoms and depression can be lifted, and it can start to happen quickly. 



Many women fear birth, but an extreme response is known as Tokophobia. 

Puerperal Psychosis or Postpartum Psychosis

Puerperal psychosis is a rare but frightening mental illness requiring swift intervention. The symptoms are similar to bipolar disorder and may include manic phases, delusions - baby is the devil, frightening thoughts, hearing voices,  halucinations, confusion, muscle rigidity or hyperflexibility, suicidal thoughts.  If you believe that you or someone you know is suffering puerperal psychosis, please seek treatment from you GP in the first instance.  We can offer support alongside or following treatment.


  • Click here for more information on post natal post traumatic stress
  • Click here for more information on post natal depression

Please contact us to discuss how we can help you relieve trauma, anxiety or depression, and start to feel better sooner rather than later.

Call Rosie Goode on 08706 994636  or click here to email us.


Effective therapy to release birth trauma . ante natal depression . tokophobia . post natal depression . PTSD . Support following miscarriage . stillbirth . emergency c-section . induction . forceps . ventouse . puerperal psychosis . Rosie Goode DHypPsych (UK) GHR . Cert HB Inst . NCT PNX&D . 07806 994636 . Throughout London & South East