Monday, September 15, 2008

PTSD after homebirth

MDC recently inaugurated a new message board about birth trauma. In very short order at least 3 stories of PTSD after homebirth were posted. According to homebirth advocates, that is not supposed to happen. It is not birth itself that leads to trauma, it is the way that birth takes place in hospitals that traumatizes women. Wrong again!

Two stories about birth trauma involve the intense pain associated with labor. The first mother wrote:
My son's labor was beyond painful. I really cannot come up with words to describe the horrible pain I experienced... I felt like I was screaming the whole time. My MW called it vocalizing but it felt like screaming to me, if that makes sense. It was horrible...

... I am a doula and a MW's assistant, and a childbirth educator. I hardly know anyone who has had this kind of experience at a homebirth. I feel uncomfortable even talking about it. It is not supposed to be this way. I thought my endorphins were supposed to kick in and help.
According to the second mother:
DS is 2 weeks old, and I cry everytime I talk about the birth. My first labor and birth were long and intense, but very wonderful... With this birth, it was so painful. SO painful... During the 4 hours before pushing, I never stopped vocalizing, even tho my mw kept telling me to be quiet and "give my voice a rest." I couldn't, it hurt too much.

I'm also traumatized by the treatment I received. The first vag exam I received made me sob and scream and when I asked the mw why it hurt so bad she didn't answer me. By the second exam I was terrified of my mw touching me, and during pushing she held back a cervical lip and I begged her to get her hands out of me...

I too am a doula and birth assistant. I expected this birth to go "easier" and "smoother" than the first birth. That was my only expectation. Obviously a bad one, but everyone including the mws told me to expect an easier time now that my body knew what it was doing.
I'm impressed by the willingness of these women to break the MDC taboo that homebirths are empowering and that birth trauma is inevitably the result of medical staff as opposed to the birth itself.

The third mother wrote about her near death from postpartum hemorrhage after a UC (Latest on MDC: massive maternal hemorrhage). Now, ironically, her despair is intensified by the reaction of other women:
... I lost the entire blood volume of one person in 40 minutes. Most people don't seem to get this. They tell me how common it is to hemorrhage, because it happened to their mother, sister, friend, etc. When that happens, I feel extremely minimized. Like it's no big deal to lose all that blood, when it really is. The term hemorrhage means anything over a few cups (or maybe even one cup? I can't remember without looking it up). I lost 6-7 liters.
MDC members have a penchant for discounting the bad experiences of other women (On MDC: making fun of women whose babies might have died). They simply will not believe anyone whose birth experience does not follow the approved narrative. As this mother shows, the unwillingness of other women to accept the reality that bad things can and do happen during birth has added to her frustration and despair.

In all three cases illustrate that birth trauma is about birth itself, not about the medical professionals involved with birth. Birth is both agonizing and dangerous. Unfortunately, homebirth advocates like to pretend otherwise, and that pretending adds to their misery when things do not go as planned.

0 Old Comments: