Saturday, 11 August 2012

Natural Births A Major Cause Of Post-Traumatic Stress? Wrong!

A Tel Aviv University researcher has linked natural birth with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Natural Births A Major Cause Of Post-Traumatic Stress

Interestingly, some people consider that PTSD is a very modern trauma

According to the Tel Aviv study, 1 in 3 postnatal women in their study sample showed signs of PTSD while a small percentage were severely affected.

What causes PTSD?  A posting on medical news today in 2009 states that PTSD is triggered by a traumatic event and that:

"The sufferer of PTSD may have experienced or seen an event that caused extreme fear, shock and/or a feeling of helplessness".

"a woman is four times more likely to develop PTSD than a man. Psychiatrists say this is probably because women run a higher risk of experiencing interpersonal violence, such as sexual violence"
Traumatic events that commonly trigger PTSD in women - these include rape, sexual molestation, physical attack, being threatened with a weapon, childhood physical abuse.

Given that labour and birth are innately highly emotional, vulnerable times for women - and that is to enable the liberation of the 'love hormone' oxytocin - the emotional 'fixative' for attachment, bonding and breastfeeding - the feeling is a natural 'high' - the reward for labour and birth;  care needs to be respectful, supportive, kind and competent for labour to go well.  Women need to feel in control, to have agency and feel safe during labour and birth.   Numerous studies have found that women labour and birth well when they have caregivers they know and trust.

Women who have their emotional needs met in labour and birth enter motherhood feeling awesome!

Feeling good after giving birth is not about whether it was natural or not, it is not about whether you coped with the pain or not, although labour is much harder to handle when you are not in a good environment or in control of what's happening to you - it's about how you are treated, how well supported you are, how protected and private your birth territory is and how well you feel in control of what's done to you.

I think the good doctors need to investigate what is going on in their hospitals! They are 'barking up the wrong tree'.


Gloria Lemay said...

What I'd like to know is how a small, ill-conceived study gets that publicity.

Home birth midwives see the emergence of a strong, confident mother by the end of a conscious birth. Sure, life with a new baby is tiring, but breastfeeding and lots of time in bed are the remedies for all ills.

So glad you commented on this. . . must admit I just deleted the original article while shaking my head in disbelief. Love Gloria in Vancouver BC

Eleanorcopp said...

I agree with everything you write Carolyn , I work in a birth centre and this week a couple returned at 2 am one night concerned with their 5 days old son feeding , and also mums OCD was getting out of hand she said . The health care assistant and I were busy but we had space to give them a room with a bath and gave her some aromatherapy oils for it .we listened to their story , the birth had been fast but then she had gone to theatre for an mrop and gone home quickly after that . He had suffered depression in the past and had had a brain tu our . Her OCD medication precluded her from being suitAble for birthing on the birth we listened , gave them food , and encouraged them to sleep and wait for the baby to wake for a feed so we could help with that . He woke at 7 am and I showed her the biological nurturing position , which she found brilliant .they left at 8 am beaming and we felt very satisfied . It can be difficult to give people time and support in an unhurried way without pressure when colleagues around as stressing for faster transfers , but this is exactly what people need. I think it takes patience and skill to allow a couple time in such a pressured environment , and we manage this well on the birth centre . I do not think the researchers have understood much about the elements of PTSD . I read that a woman is more likely to recall trauma after an epidural as the body has retained the memory and so it stays stuck in the mind . sometimes women have partners who are totally unprepared for what they see happening , the women may seem distressed at times , but is capable of talking through her experience at the time whereas the man may refer to it as traumatic. I also see midwife colleagues who refer to women having a birth where they are vocal as traumatic but the woman herself says after the birth that it was fine . Often having a lovely girl friend present is a steadying influence too. . A big topic .and one this research hasn't addressed accurately or helpfully .

Carolyn Hastie said...

Thanks for your comments, Gloria and Eleanor. I nearly deleted the story too Gloria, but then felt I needed to respond. I responded on the site, but thought a blog post may reach people that a comment on the original story may not - we have to counter this negative and ridiculously influential rubbish in every way we can. Eleanor, your story of how you helped that mumma, partner and their babe is so heart warming. Thanks so much for sharing a glimpse into what's possible with time and kind competence. love, Carolyn

Crystal - Prenatal Coach said...

Thank you for posting something I can share! That study making it's round is ridiculous! It's how women are being TREATED when they are birthing that is causing PTSD, not the fact that they are birthing naturally.

Carolyn Hastie said...

Hi Crystal, you have summed up the problem brilliantly! Thanks for your comment. Great you are doing the work that you do. Each woman who has the benefit of loving, kind, intelligent partnership with someone who can provide sensible and evidence informed 'facts' is a woman who is most likely to emerge a confident, fully engaged, happy mother! PTSD would be a non event in terms of childbearing, love, Carolyn