20 Jun Why don’t more mums seek help for their PTSD symptoms arising from a traumatic birth?
There are a few reasons why more mums and dads don’t seek help when they perhaps would benefit doing so. The first is that mums often don’t understand what they’re going through when they’re suffering recurrent flashbacks, intrusive or recurrent thoughts about their birth. When they’re experiencing feelings of high anxiety or hypervigilance, they’re perhaps baffled about that, and they don’t quite understand what it is that they are experiencing. And because they’re new mums as well, the symptoms arising from a traumatic birth are sometimes mixed in with the experience of being a new mum.
The two experiences are coexisting together, and it can be confusing to extrapolate out what are the challenges arising from being a new mum, i.e. the sleepless nights, the demands of a newborn baby, constant feeding, the physical recovery after a birth, and so on, with symptoms that have arisen from a traumatic experience. Those symptoms are things like anxiety, the recurrence of that event in the mind as thoughts or as flashbacks, the hypervigilance and the jumpiness that’s associated with PTSD. So it can be confusing to know what is part of a new mum experience and what is part of that traumatic birth experience, and I think that’s largely why mums don’t seek help, because they can mistakenly think that this is part and parcel of being a new mum, which some of it is, but PTSD symptoms definitely aren’t.
The second reason I think more mums don’t seek help is because when they do realise that some of the symptoms are perhaps associated with their traumatic birth, they just simply hope to put it behind them, and this is the kind of head in the sand approach that is used when we are confronted with something that’s quite frightening. It’s almost like we don’t want to open the Pandora’s box, because we’re scared about what we might see, and so if we just push it away and bury it and try and keep a lid on it, hopefully it will go away on its own.
This avoidance tactic can be part of PTSD symptoms, and it seems like quite a logical coping mechanism, especially if you’re a busy mum, and genuinely you do just want to move on with your life and enjoy your time with your new family. The only problem with it is that it doesn’t go away, and can just come back with twice the force to bite us on the bum when we least expect it. So when we’re next pregnant and planning for our next birth or when we’re trying to get pregnant. These are the times then when we realise, “Oh, actually, maybe I could do with some help in resolving these issues.”
The last reason that mums don’t seek help is because it can feel difficult. GP’s often aren’t trained in what to look for or the questions to ask. Sometimes it can feel like there’s a slight conflict of interest in asking the NHS for help when they might actually hold the NHS responsible for what they have experienced, and so it doesn’t really make a lot of sense for somebody who feels let down by their health service to ask the health service for help. I completely understand that. That, to me, makes complete sense. But for those who do go to their GP or ask their care provider or their health visitor, for help, it can be just the first hurdle to pass.
Even when care providers do recognise the symptoms and do realise that there is a need for treatment, treatment is in short supply with long waiting lists being the norm in most areas. When mums do finally get the treatment it is most often a course of CBT. CBT is usually offered in 6-10 sessions making it a lengthy treatment process. I offer a treatment that’s known as the Rewind technique, it is delivered in just 3 sessions and lifts the toxic emotions and feelings and symptoms arising from a traumatic birth. If you would like to know more about this, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.