Approximately 9% of women experience postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following childbirth. Most often, this illness is caused by a real or perceived trauma during delivery or postpartum. These traumas could include:
Prolapsed cord Unplanned C-section *Use of vacuum extractor or forceps to deliver the baby *Baby going to NICU *Feelings of powerlessness, poor communication and/or lack of support and reassurance during the delivery *Women who have experienced a previous trauma, such as rape or sexual abuse, are also at a higher risk for experiencing postpartum PTSD. *Women who have experienced a severe physical complication or injury related to pregnancy or childbirth, such as severe postpartum hemorrhage, unexpected hysterectomy, severe preeclampsia/eclampsia, perineal trauma (3rd or 4th degree tear), or cardiac disease.
Symptoms of postpartum PTSD might include:
*Intrusive re-experiencing of a past traumatic event (which in this case may have been the childbirth itself) *Flashbacks or nightmares *Avoidance of stimuli associated with the event, including thoughts, feelings, people, places and details of the event *Persistent increased arousal (irritability, difficulty sleeping, hypervigilance, exaggerated startle response) *Anxiety and panic attacks *Feeling a sense of unreality and detachment