Did You Have a Traumatic Birth?

Before I retired from nursing to start Mamasoup, I worked in Labour and Delivery/Postpartum. People would always smile when I told them what I did for a living, and usually someone would say You’re so lucky to work in such a happy place! And I did feel lucky, because when it was happy it was so happy. But when it was sad, it was almost unbearable.

There’s a lot of talk about traumatic birth these days. I've personally witnessed births that I can't forget because they were scary and a happy outcome wasn't certain: babies stuck on the way out, family members sobbing in hallways, nurses holding cords inside vaginas while the bed flies down the hall to the OR. But if a nurse with knowledge, experience and specialized skills can find a birth frightening and traumatic, imagine how a mom must feel!

A birth is considered traumatic when:

 -A mom, partner or any witness believes that the mom or baby’s lives were in danger.

-There was any threat to a mom’s emotional well-being


Between 25 and 34 percent of women report that their birth was traumatic.


When you think about it, many things can be recognized as traumatic: war, abuse, or surviving a disaster. The problem with birth is that because people consider it a joyous event, we gloss over the dirty details of trauma and say, At least you have a healthy baby- that’s all that matters. We tell women that because they got through birth they should just "get over it" and enjoy being a mom.

Here’s the problem: many women are suffering from the effects of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), PTSS (Post-Traumatic Stress Symptoms) and they don’t even realize it.

It’s important to note that most women who have a traumatic birth don’t develop PTSD, only about 4%. But if you’ve had a tough birth and you are struggling from any of the following symptoms, you need to see your care provider:


Intrusive Thoughts

These are the thoughts that you don’t voluntarily invite into your head. They can appear as nightmares, intense reactions when you recall your birth (faster breathing, headache, feeling a “sick” stomach, panic, etc…) and even flashbacks.



If you ever avoid thinking about your birth you may be incubating yourself from feeling the trauma. Also, if you avoid the location or people who were involved in your birth, if you “forget” parts of your birth you really should seek help.

It’s not normal to avoid the activities you used to enjoy, or detach yourself socially.



Here’s what I mean:

- difficulty sleeping beyond having a baby

-irritable or angry outbursts

-difficulty with concentrating

-panic attacks



Inability to Perform Daily Tasks

This means that you can’t bring yourself to wash the dishes, tidy up the house, shower or change your clothes.


So if you had a traumatic birth and you aren’t diagnosed with PTSD, you may still experience some of the symptoms to a lesser degree. They usually are less severe and last less than a month. These are considered Post-Traumatic Stress Symptoms.

Recovering from PTSS takes some time and a lot of support. Support can come from a therapist and from other moms who have overcome traumatic birth.

There are some other things you can do to help heal your mind and body:

-getting sleep

-yoga and exercise

-peer support/ support groups


-meditation and guided relaxation


If you’ve had a traumatic birth, know that you’re not alone. Reach out for help, download the PTSD COACH app and rely on other moms who have been through it. With time and support you will heal. Your birth experience matters, Mama.

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Joanne Ilaqua - CEO of MamaSoup

Hey there, I’m Joanne.

I’ve spent about 20 years serving women as a nurse, doula and Lamaze educator. I have 4 kids and I know firsthand how lonely and isolating motherhood can be, so I created MamaSoup. I'm mostly known for my love of red wine, spontaneously singing and my confidence in being my true self on social media. When I’m not busy building women up, you can catch me taking Instagram stories of my bulldog Ruby, watching The Handmaid’s Tale, playing MUber (Mom Uber) to my kids or vacationing in my favourite town: Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

I love serving the world by providing a space for moms to connect and support each other. In my opinion, moms are the backbone of communities because they are (literally) raising the future!

As the founder and CEO of MamaSoup, I’ve been featured on CHEX TV Morning Show, KawarthaNOW, Economic Development- The City of Kawartha Lakes and MyKawartha.

Still with me? Join me over at MamaSoup to keep the conversation going!

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