A recent study by City, University of London, has indicated 28,000 women a year could potentially be affected by maternal post-traumatic stress disorder in the UK alone.
What is maternal post-traumatic stress disorder?
PANDAS highlight that PTSD happens after an event that is seriously threatening to you or someone in your life, causing severe psychological distress. In regard to post-natal PTSD, you may experience nightmares, flashbacks of the birth, and be constantly reminded of the experience.
Those first few months with a new born are stressful, sometimes Mums and Dads perceive that the way they are feeling is due to sleep deprivation, general exhaustion and perhaps don’t appreciate that sometimes the way you are feeling is more than that. No one should suffer in silence, and if you are spotting triggers, you shouldn’t feel embarrassed to say.
Anna Simpson, Wakefield, experienced a traumatic birth just 16 months ago. After two failed attempts of assisted delivery, Anna and her baby needed an emergency C-Section. This was the root of her PTSD.
Anna described the situation as “very frightening” and being scared of the amount of people crowded around her, tearing her clothes and jewellery from her. It made her feel like she was being attacked and only made her feel more physically exhausted. In what should have been a peaceful and exciting experience, quite the opposite happened.
Whilst she felt she should be pleased that her baby and her were fine, she could not ‘shake off’ the memories. They remained present no matter what she did.
Afterwards Anna was diagnosed with post-natal PTSD, reliving her experience. Realising that there were no improvements in her feelings, therapy was the clear choice. There are different options regarding therapy, which help new parents to open up and talk about their feelings.
Check-ups for mums after birth often overlook PTSD, focussing more upon depression. In the main, you may feel that the health visitor is placing all their focus on your baby, with just a passing comment, ‘you okay’. Many Mums are, but sometimes, when you’re not, it’s important to talk. Important to share how you feel. You are unfortunately not the only new Mum feeling that way, there is help.
The NHS are currently working on refining their mental health support for mums, with more than 7,000 new mothers receiving treatment last year. They stated that their mental health services will be implemented throughout the whole of England as of April 2019, an important move for new mums. There are several charities to help including Make Birth Better.