This is the powerful story of a wonderful, Mum called Emma who wanted to share her story about her experience of birth trauma and PTSD.
Emma’s story show’s how damage can be caused by medical procedures that are done without consent and the importance of aftercare following trauma.
Please be aware that some stories may trigger difficult memories and emotions so remember your own self care as everyone will be at different stages of healing.
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I had a trouble free pregnancy and was so excited to meet our baby. My Mum happened to be here when my waters broke and she said she could hear my husband and I giggling like it was Christmas morning.
My labour was 24 hours long, and started to go wrong from the minute I arrived at hospital when I was told I was 9 cms dilated, when I was in fact only 4. After 12 hours I was eventually given an epidural which only worked on my right leg. I asked repeatedly for more pain relief but was ignored.
Things came to a head when I was told I was too tired to deliver the baby without assistance and the consultant inserted a forcep with no warning, consent or pain relief. I was in agony and refused to allow them to use the second blade, so I was left with one blade in, screaming in agony for 10 minutes, according to my notes, whilst the staff all debated what to do with me. A new anaesthetist came into the room, stopped all proceedings to tell me I had to go to theatre, but I couldn’t be moved until the forcep was removed. I couldn’t have a spinal block until I could be moved. So it was pulled out in the room. By the time I got to theatre I had to be held down on the table as I was shaking with shock and my contractions had stopped.
Eventually the new epidural took and she was delivered by another forcep attempt. I cried for days after we got home and realised how bad it was when I refused to be re admitted to the hospital with a bleed a few days later.
“It finally dawned on me that I was traumatised.”
I was repeatedly told it was just the baby blues, and I should be gratefully she was healthy. I knew I didn’t have PND as my bond with my daughter was coming along brilliantly thanks to breastfeeding, but I knew I wasn’t right. I knew I should be overwhelmed with love and happiness, but I just felt sad. We bought a house when she was 5 months old, and it finally broke me. I was a mess, my husband couldn’t say anything without me screaming at him. I was waking the baby with my nightmares. It finally dawned on me that I was traumatised. I felt violated, and the only way I could think of the birth was as if I had been raped.
I’ve since had 8 weeks of EMDR treatment, which was brutal at times, but has saved my sanity. It has probably saved my relationship with my daughter, my friends and my marriage.
I wish I had been told about PTSD at NCT, I wish the health visitor had known what to say. I wish I had had treatment earlier so I didn’t lose those early months with my baby. I hope I can help others and raise awareness, if maternity staff are allowed to practice medicine in this way, we should at least have aftercare services to help women recover and move on.