Accouchement traumatique : quand la naissance ne se passe pas comme prévu - Élhée

Traumatic childbirth: when the birth does not go as planned


  • Around 30% of births described as traumatic
  • Emergency cesarean section, intense pain, loss of control… birth trauma is numerous
  • How does perinatal trauma manifest?
  • What help can be given to the new mother?

It must have been one of the happiest days of your life. At least, you had imagined it as such before and during your pregnancy. The day you give birth, the day your child is born. Yet when you think about it, Nothing happened as you had hoped . Haste, lack of information, lack of consideration, worry, pain, tears... to finally lead to deliverance in suffering. If today you are the happy mother of one or more children, It took you months or maybe even years to put your experience of motherhood into words . From dream to reality, traumatic childbirth affects a third of the women interviewed.

Around 30% of births described as traumatic

According to data published by the PATCH (Prevention and Treatment of Traumatic Childbirth), between 25 and 34% of women describe their childbirth as traumatic . According to data published by the CAIRN , in 2002, 33% of the women questioned described giving birth to their child as traumatic .
So, saying that a birth doesn't go as planned is sometimes an understatement. From negative to traumatic experience, each woman experiences and feels each step of the process differently.
According to the PATTCH, a birth is qualified as traumatic when the “ person affected by the trauma (mother, father or witness) is worried about the life of the mother or her baby, or if there is a serious threat to the physical or emotional integrity of the mother or her baby . »

Emergency cesarean section, intense pain, loss of control… birth trauma is numerous

difficult birth cesarean

A difficult birth leaves its mark. When the wish of a natural childbirth turns into an emergency cesarean section , the lived history no longer has anything comparable to the recorded history. When a episiotomy is performed without question , feelings of loss of control and dispossession of oneself can be strong.

Stories like these, stories of rushed births, rushed staff, pathologies that follow one another, pain that is poorly or not relieved ... there are thousands of them and yet all of them are unique in their importance. Destabilizing, unexpected, is sometimes a question of birth trauma.

How to recognize perinatal trauma?

After giving birth, some mothers suffer from baby blues, regardless of the conditions of their child's birth. However, if a Great fatigue is accompanied by mood disorders, dark thoughts, nightmares, even flashbacks linked to childbirth and as this state sets in over time, it is likely that the situation is more complicated . A postpartum depression or post-traumatic stress disorder can then be diagnosed.

Failure and disappointment: two common feelings

The trauma of a difficult birth finds its genesis above all in the mother's feelings. Because the birth of her child did not go as imagined, she thinks she was not up to the task, imagines she missed something . The result is sadness, frustration and a feeling of failure, which are sometimes difficult to overcome.
Here, the dogma of happy birth is very present . So much so that some mothers do not dare talk about their disappointment and the shock caused by their delivery. Because society as a whole expects them to rejoice, they choose not to expose their feelings, at the risk of worsening their distress .

What help can be given to the new mother?

A difficult birth can cause discomfort that may persist over time. To support the mother, relieve her pain and allow her, little by little, to accept and digest this traumatic event, those around her play an essential role.
The first step is through recognition of emotions . Speaking, but especially active listening , come next. And finally, the little care, attention, caresses, the time offered ... can also help towards healing.
If the images of childbirth remain present, if nightmares set in, if you avoid thinking about your childbirth or if your memories prevent you from functioning normally with regard to yourself, your family, or your loved ones. your baby, do not hesitate to consult.
Talk to the obstetric team during postpartum appointment , at your attending physician , at your midwife ... Meet a hypnotherapist , a sophrologist , a psychotherapist … Share with a speaking group or other mothers in the same situation as you .

How to change things?

In addition to the acts performed, the trauma often comes from the discrepancy between the way each woman imagines her childbirth, and what she experiences at the time of the birth of her child.
Work on the perception of childbirth , demystify the beauty of the moment , better support couples , offer them more time, more respect and better listening, put aside the profitability of actions and prioritize their benefits... So many avenues for, over the generations, to hope to move the lines.

Childbirth trauma still too little studied

If post-traumatic stress and its consequences have been studied since the 19th century, their appearance and effects in the context of maternity has only been the subject of a few rare studies over the last 20 years .
In the same way that there seems to be only one place to give birth in France (in 2016, only 5,000 births out of 784,000 took place outside a hospital or maternity ward, i.e. less than 1% ), the perception of childbirth also seems to be unique and positive. " It could have been worse . » “ It will be better next time .” » “ It's easier for the second one . » “ No, but the important thing is that your baby is okay . » So many sentences that it is urgent to no longer hear , so many feelings that it is imperative to no longer silence , for births in full conscience and patients respected as women and as full mother .
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