I had my first daughter at only 22. Me and my baby both nearly died from a very traumatic birth and appalling aftercare. I was induced six weeks early due to preeclampsia, I then suffered a retained placenta which required life saving surgery. I had a massive Postpartum haemorrhage and third degree tear. My daughter was taken straight to Neonatal while I spend 48 hours in HDU.
I didn’t realise it at the time, but my birth resulted in PTSD. Unfortunately my PTSD was wrongly diagnosed for years. I struggled to assess help, support and treatment. I am now in what I call recovery but while I have improved greatly, I still struggle with the changes it made to me and my life. I found while searching for help how little information there was on Birth Trauma and Perinatal PTSD and even less support. My experience and struggle to assess help has driven me to try and help others and educate health professionals on the impact of trauma in birth on mental health and how we can all work together to improve support for the families affected.
In the depth of my darkness, when my recovery was just beginning, a dear friend sent me a card in which they had wrote the saying, ‘just when the caterpillar thought the world was over it became a beautiful butterfly’. They encouraged me to keep emerging from the darkness that had engulfed me and to ‘unfold my wings’, to be all the beauty I held inside and to follow my hopes and dreams. Those words gave me hope, helped me believe that I could overcome PTSD and that what had happened to me didn’t define me but that I could recover and then help others. So as I became stronger Unfold Your Wings was born.
So this website is to provide information, to raise awareness but to also give hope. I felt alone for many years lost in the dark cocoon of Birth Trauma and PTSD but I found I could break free and find the light again. It’s been a long bumpy road but it is possible to Unfold Your Wings, breaking free and find YOU again.
If you would like to read more about my journey you can find my story on my Blog, Lovingbaby.co.uk
I am the co-founder of the Birth Trauma Trust. I am also part of the amazing #Matexp campaign to improve maternity experiences. I am a Postnatal Doula and work for the NHS in infant feeding both in neonatal and community. I am a solihull approach practitioner, including trauma and have training in mental health first aid. I help with developing PNMH services/pathways, training to show the effects of birth trauma and public speaking to help raise awareness and show how I am trying to use my experience to make a difference. I also run a Birth Reflections Service for families. I also founded the Perinatal Mental Health Network.
I believe that every woman during birth deserves to be treated with dignity, compassion and respect. Birth trauma and PTSD are real, it is important that women and their families get the help and support they need to overcome it. The birth of her baby can affect a woman for the rest of her life, it may not be possible to completely prevent birth trauma but what we can do is support women when things do go wrong and make sure that we show them love, compassion, kindness and help, even at the darkest times, so they believe that they will recover and leave the dark cocoon like a beautiful butterfly to see the light again.