Birth Trauma – Risk Factors, Types and Treatment

5 min read

Written by Aparna Hari

Aparna Hari

Birth Trauma

Childbirth involves a lot of emotions. It brings you the feeling of tremendous joy and relief as you can see your baby’s face after the prolonged waiting. But to experience this joy you need to go through the labor pain. So, a lot of women feel anxiety and nervousness before entering the operation theatre. And this can worsen if things do not go as expected or as planned. The exhaustion, pain, injuries and stitches then can result in a possible birth trauma in women.

Birth trauma is very common. Almost 1 in 3 women feel it while and after giving birth. But its intensity varies from woman to woman. Some can release the trauma by crying it out in a few minutes and some can take months to get over it. You will require your family’s and especially your partner’s emotional support with you to deal with it. Here is more detailed information about birth injury for you.

In This Article

What is Birth Trauma?

It is quite difficult to give a proper definition of what birth trauma is as the feeling of being in it can be different for each woman. But we can say as a whole that birth trauma is the feeling of pain, distress, depression and emotional breakdown women often go through during or after childbirth.

Women go through immense pain during labor. Their hormones also change rapidly during and after childbirth. These hormone changes can make them extremely emotional. And at the labor room, the feeling of helplessness or being dependent on someone for everything can trigger birth trauma.

Birth injury is marked by anxiety, emotional breakdown, panic attacks, and feeling numb or guilty. If it is not treated in time then it can lead to postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.

Risk Factors For Birth Trauma

Risk Factors For Birth Trauma

A lot of factors can trigger a birth injury. It again varies from woman to woman. Birth trauma can occur if

  • The mother goes through long and painful labor or if the delivery process is not going to plan.
  • A sudden caesarean C section had to be done because of complications in normal delivery.
  • Instruments like forceps and vacuum extractors are used to initiate the delivery.
  • The mother is unable to breastfeed or fails to look after the baby properly.
  • The woman has a history of birth injury or painful labour.
  • The baby has to be put in the NICU.
  • The baby has wrapped the umbilical cord around its neck.
  • It is a stillbirth or neonatal death.
  • The woman was sexually harassed.

So, any of these situations can increase the risks of birth injury. Women with traumatic childhood and anxiety problems are at a greater risk of birth injury.

[Read : Vacuum Assisted Birth]

Types of Birth Trauma

Birth trauma is of two types – physical trauma and psychological trauma.

1. Physical Birth Trauma

This type of trauma can be due to an injury during childbirth. Physical birth injury can happen due to:

  • Caesarean wounds
  • Perineal tears
  • POP or pelvic organ prolapse
  • Damage in pelvic floor muscles
  • Pubic bone fracture and fractures in sacrum and coccyx

In the case of physical trauma, you will have to immediately ask for medical help and you will recover from it as soon as your body recovers.

[Read : Perineal Tears And Stitches After Childbirth]

2. Psychological Birth Trauma

This can happen if the delivery process does not go smoothly or as you have imagined. It can lead to various psychological problems like

  • Post-partum post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD
  • Postnatal depression and anxiety or PNDA
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder or OCD

[Read : Understanding Postpartum OCD]

Symptoms of Birth Trauma

Birth Trauma

Sometimes the woman suffering from birth injury cannot herself realize it. But if your loved one has gone through a traumatic childbirth experience then it is very likely that she will suffer from birth trauma.

In that case, you will need to be careful and look out for birth injury symptoms like

  • Anger
  • Sleeplessness
  • Anxiety
  • Emotionally overwhelmed
  • Not feeling hunger
  • Negative thoughts about the capability to nurse the baby
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Hyper-vigilance
  • Panic attacks while thinking about the traumatic experience
  • Having nightmares or flashbacks of the trauma
  • Avoiding people
  • Depression

If you feel any of these after your childbirth or you can see your loved one suffering from it immediately take help from the maternal mental health services.

Can Birth Trauma be Prevented?

It is hard to prevent birth injury as you don’t know what will happen and how things will occur in your case. The best thing you can do is to prepare your mind strong before delivery.

Here are a few steps you can take

  • Taking antenatal classes can be highly informative about what to expect during childbirth.
  • Being realistic and having faith in God. You cannot control everything, especially your childbirth.
  • Stay positive and keep an open mind.
  • Be ready to collect information from fellow mothers and relatives. Be close to your friends. They can tackle you in your worse condition.
  • Get mental health support if you have the tendency for depression and anxiety.

How is Birth Trauma Treated?

How is Birth Trauma Treated

If you are feeling too much anxiety about your delivery, just get help from your gynecologist. He/she can refer you to a psychiatrist if needed. Getting emotionally weak for the initial few days after delivery is very common and it is known as baby blues. But if the condition doesn’t improve after 2 weeks postpartum then you should take an expert’s help.

Birth injury can be treated by

  • Consulting with the midwife or doctor or the nurse looking after you.
  • Getting help and support from your partner, friends and family.
  • Taking self-help measures like meditation, postpartum yoga, exercises etc.
  • Taking therapy and medication for extreme cases after a doctor’s advice.

The rate of birth injury has significantly declined after the advancements in the medical sector and the mass inclination towards caesarean delivery. Yet in some cases, women can feel birth trauma. You must remember that you are not alone. Talk and take help from your dear ones. It will help you to recover from it soon.

Many women go through birth injury after exhausting childbirth. Here are the reasons and preventive measures for birth trauma.


1. Can a Difficult Birth Cause Mental Illness?

Yes, difficult childbirth can cause mental illness. It can be stress, anxiety, panic attacks, and depression. But you can move on from this phase will little care and love. But neglecting this situation can cause severe mental illnesses like PTSD.

2. Can Motherhood Cause PTSD?

Yes, severe birth trauma and postpartum depression can result in PTSD or postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder. Almost 9% of mothers suffer from PTSD after a traumatic birth experience. This trauma can occur due to real or perceived fear during childbirth.

3. How Does Birth Trauma Affect the Mother?

Not only your body but your mind to takes a vital part while giving birth. It is the mental strength that enables a woman to bear such tremendous pain during labor. Thus, in case of any mishaps, a mother gets affected both mentally and emotionally.

Read Also: Postpartum Depression Symptoms: Causes And Treatment

Aparna Hari,MBA in Marketing,P.G. Diploma in Human Resource Management from IGNOU Bachelor of Sciences (Home Science) from Nagarjuna University

Her experience in impactful writing combined with her background in Home Sciences makes Aparna the perfect candidate for content writing in the pregnancy and parenting niche.Read more.

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