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Explains postnatal depression and other perinatal mental health issues, including possible causes, sources of treatment and support, and advice for friends and family.
You may develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) if you experience:
This is also called birth trauma. The impact of these experiences is often underestimated, as people may feel that the baby is adequate compensation for the trauma and that, as a new mother, you will soon forget it in the joy of motherhood.
However, a traumatic childbirth and developing PTSD can impair your relationship with both your baby and your partner. You may feel acute disappointment that childbirth was not the experience you were hoping for, and feel angry with the medical staff if you felt that the delivery wasn’t handled well. If you develop PTSD, you're likely to also experience flashbacks or unwanted memories of the traumatic birth.
This might mean you feel anxious about having another baby.
This page covers:
"I had a traumatic birth. I was so petrified that my son would die that in my head it was easier not to love him just in case."
The treatments for PTSD are primarily talking treatments:
Medication is not normally offered to treat PTSD but, as it is common to also experience anxiety and depression alongside PTSD, your doctor might offer you medication to treat this. Your doctor might also offer you medication to support you to feel more stable and able to care for your baby, or if there's a long wait for talking treatments in your area.
See our page on treatments for PTSD for more information.
Coping with the after effects of a traumatic birth can feel very challenging, but there are some things you can do to help yourself cope:
For more general ideas see our page on looking after your mental health as a new parent.
This information was published in July 2016. We will revise it in 2019.
References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.