Rounding out my series on traumatic birth experiences are some tips on how to best support a friend or loved one after a birth trauma. I also offer some suggestions for OB's, midwives, and other birth support professionals on how to offer more supportive care. But first, some REAL examples culled from clients (they have given me permission to share their experiences) of things that were said to them by their medical teams and loved ones.
For many women who have experienced a traumatic birth, contemplating a subsequent pregnancy is fraught. This can be true for those who have experienced continued post-traumatic symptoms, as well as for those who’ve felt relatively at peace for some time. In my experience, with a lot of planning and proper supports, it is possible to have a positive birth experience after a traumatic one. Of course, as pregnancy and birth are unpredictable, it may not be the birth you envisioned, but it could still be a reparative and healing experience.
In the last few years there has been a significant push to screen pregnant and postpartum women for symptoms of depression. In fact, in 2015 the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommended screening at least once during the perinatal period for symptoms of anxiety and depression using a clinically validated assessment tool such as the EDPS (Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale) or the PHQ-9 (Patient Health Questionnaire-9). Several states have followed suit in mandating depression screenings for perinatal populations.
Over the last two weeks, I’ve features articles that speak to some of the significant problems in perinatal health care. The system is very much in need of an overhaul. But until then, there are numerous ways that pregnant and postpartum women can advocate for more emotionally-attuned, empathic care.
This week I am honored to feature a guest post by Rachel E. K. Freedman, Ph.D. Rachel specializes in reproductive psychology and has an expertise in trauma. In her post today, she addresses the challenges involved in navigating pregnancy and childbirth after trauma. Recent statistics reported by RAINN and the National Center for Victims of Crime suggest that 1 in 5 girls is the victim of sexual abuse, and that 1 out of 6 women will be the victim of attempted or completed rape at some point in her life. Given the disturbing prevalence of sexual violence against women, Rachel's article is especially pertinent. Rachel's words are below.