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Approximately 9% of new moms experience postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following childbirth. Most often this illness is caused by a real or perceived trauma during delivery or after, and most commonly occurs when a baby is born prematurely requiring critical care in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

Postpartum PTSD is not the same as postpartum depression. PTSD symptoms are generally grouped into three categories: re-experiencing, avoidance, and increased arousal.

What are the symptoms of postpartum PTSD?

  • Intrusive thoughts remembering and re-experiencing labor and delivery
  • Flashbacks or nightmares about the birthing experience
  • Avoiding thoughts, feelings, places, and speaking of the details of the birth
  • Irritability, difficulty sleeping, hypervigilance, startling easily
  • Anxiety and panic attacks

What are examples of birth trauma?

  • A severe physical complication or injury during childbirth (unexpected hysterectomy, severe preeclampsia / eclampsia, vaginal tearing)
  • An unplanned C-section
  • The use of a vacuum extractor or forceps to deliver the baby
  • Your baby going to the NICU
  • A lack of support during delivery
  • The experience of a previous trauma such as rape or sexual abuse

Fortunately, postpartum PTSD is typically temporary and treatable. It is important to get help before symptoms get worse and become harder to treat. Balance providers can provide the care needed to help you recover from this illness.

Additional Resources

Please remember this information is intended for educational purposes only and should not substitute medical advice from a healthcare provider.