I have not made it a secret that I felt (and feel) traumatized by my birth experience. I am currently hard at work researching an article about this very topic, a process which I find completely therapeutic and enlightening. I learned a statistic today that both floored me and gave me such validation, I can barely express my relief at having read it.
According to research conducted by the Childbirth Connection, lots of women experience trauma related to their childbirth. This doesn't even necessarily mean women experience emergency C-sections as I did. Plenty of women who have had vaginal births have things go wrong or are treated in such a way as to make them feel un-listened-to or unimportant. The result?
18% of American women demonstrate some signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after giving birth. That's nearly 1 in 5 women.
9% of American women demonstrate ALL the symptoms of PTSD after giving birth. Nearly ten percent of the women in this country, 400,000 women every year. These numbers are staggering. We tend to associate PTSD with soldiers returning home from war, not with women having babies, bringing "bundles of joy" into the world.
But Birth Trauma is a real thing. Having a healthy, beautiful baby and mothering that baby do not take away from the experience of bringing that baby into the world. It is still possible to experience the birth process separately from experiencing motherhood. The birth process is important to women and in many, many cases this birth process leaves them feeling...well...traumatized.
My great hope as I work on this article is that one mother out there will read my writing and recognize her experiences are real and valid and that she is not crazy. Most important, I hope just one mother will discover that she is not alone. Far, far, far from alone.
Information about the New Mothers Speak Out survey can be found here.