Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was first diagnosed in soldiers returning from the Vietnam war. But we now realise that PTSD can develop after experiencing any traumatic event, such as child birth. It can also be experienced by those witnessing such events. Not all individuals will go on to develop the full PTSD after childbirth. Instead, they may develop a degree of the symptoms, which is known as birth trauma.
The experience of birth trauma is unique to that individual, as is the experience of the birth. Someone may have had the ‘perfect’ birth on paper but to them and their loved ones who were involved, it was a traumatic experience. Some have felt a loss of control or dignity, others a feeling of not being heard or not having had the opportunity to give their informed consent. Any of these scenarios can trigger the trauma.
Not everyone who has had a traumatic experience will suffer from PTSD but some will. It is a completely normal response and not a sign of weakness. It is also completely involuntary and cannot just be cured by pulling yourself together or focusing on the positives.