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Postpartum PTSD

Was your birth experience painful, disappointing, or scary?

As women we work so hard to plan and make the right choices for ourselves and our babies, but things sometimes go awry and lead to traumatic medical, physical, and emotional experiences.

Unfortunately, many women who have experienced medical trauma while giving birth are just told to “get over it” or told “just be happy the baby is healthy.” Shame takes over and unresolved trauma lingers, leading to sadness, anxiety, depression, and even PTSD. Birth-related trauma is compounded by hormonal changes, huge life adjustments, lack of sleep, lack of support, physical recovery, and a culture that dismisses birth as easy because women have always done it.

Symptoms of Postpartum PTSD (PP PTSD)

  • Intrusive re-experiencing and memories of the birth experience.

  • Flashbacks or nightmares.

  • Avoidance...of thoughts, feelings, people, places and details related to the event. Unfortunately, even aspects of caring for our baby can be triggering. 

  • Persistent increased physiological arousal, including irritability, insomnia, being easily startled, and a feeling of hypervigilance.

  • Anxiety and panic attacks.

  • Feeling a sense of unreality and detachment.

PP PTSD can be mistaken for Postpartum Depression and they may indeed co-exist. But trauma impacts the brain differently and should be treated by a psychologist with specialized training in trauma and PTSD.

If you identify with these symptoms, know that your brain is just responding out of a survival instinct. With proper treatment, it can be PP PTSD symptoms can be alleviated and you will develop coping skills that will benefit you during future births. 

Dr. Ruan specializes in treatment of birth-related trauma. If you have questions or want to explore treatment options, schedule a free 15 minute phone consult.