Shattered Dreams: Labor & Delivery

Sarah just found out she is pregnant and is excited but a bit anxious about labor/delivery. As a new mother, she is doing everything in her power to prepare for the big day. She researches, makes plans, takes educational birthing classes, etc. Sarah is intentional about her steps and hopeful of having a good birthing experience. However, delivery day does not go as planned. Sarah’s experience was counter to what she imagined, traumatizing her. Sarah felt not only disappointed, but devastated.

Are you Sarah? Did you plan a magical, holistic, or just a predictable birthing day? Instead, you labored longer or felt worse pain than anticipated. Or, you intended to have a personal and intimate birthing setting; instead you lay in the hospital bed with intrusive and unknown medical personnel poking and prodding you. Maybe the unimaginable occurred. Your natural birthing plans were crushed when you were rushed in for an emergency cesarean. Or due to complications, your baby was taken away immediately and placed in the NICU.

Postpartum Struggles

You felt terrified and helpless when the unforeseen occurred. And now at postpartum, you struggle with the outcome. Or, you are still struggling as you are pregnant again.

Mothers like Sarah went through what we call a traumatic birth. Depending on each individual’s experience during and after delivery, women can have short-term or long-term effects. It is common for mothers who underwent traumatic births to feel shock, guilt, and sadness afterwards. However, it is important to recognize when feelings persist or are intensified. Here are some symptoms or warning signs of more severe and long-term consequences from traumatic births:


Moments occur where you feel as if you are reliving the traumatic indecent. Sounds, images, and even bodily sensations feel as if you are there in the moment again.

Intrusive Memories

Memories of the traumatic event reoccur in everyday life without warning.

Intensified Anxiety

Anxiety heightens to levels you never experienced before which may include ongoing panic attacks, high sensitivity to trauma reminders, or difficulty sleeping. Here are three tips/techniques to help if anxiety is becoming more of an issue.

High Avoidance

You go out of your way to block out or avoid anything similar to trauma reminders such as doctor’s offices, medical personnel, etc.

Detachment or Numbness/High Irritability or Anger

You may have extreme moods of easy agitation/anger. Or, you may have no emotion and feel completely detached and distant.

How Trauma Affects Your Body & Mind

You may not experience every symptom I just listed, or to this level of intensity, but it is important to recognize these experiences and seek help. Moving forward is not as simple as closing the door behind you and never looking back. When trauma occurs, it is not processed and put away like other memories by the brain.

Instead, the memory is associated with high emotional intensity that can become frozen in the mind. Frozen memories are not stored away but stuck and put on replay. As a result, the memory replays the images, thoughts, and sounds of the experience and your body feels the same frightening and terrifying sensations as it did during the original experience. It is not all in your head. There is a biological component that prevents you from moving forward as if it were any other day. As a result, it is important to seek professional counseling services.

Seeking Help

A therapy technique called EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing) has been shown to help treat what we call PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). The warning signs listed above are essentially some of the symptoms of PTSD. The most basic explanation of EMDR is that it helps process past upsetting memories so they become unstuck in the brain. Once it becomes unstuck, the memory can be put away. The therapy technique, which has been advocated by the World Health Organization, is used to help clients move forward from a highly emotionally event so it no longer hits replay. If you are interested in this therapy technique and want to learn more about EMDR, click here.

You do not have to suffer alone or in secrecy. You are able to overcome past pain, especially a day that is supposed to be one of the most important days of your life. I am here to help. Call today at 407-622-1770 or contact us here to schedule an appointment and start the healing journey. As a trauma specialist, I utilize EMDR as well as other methods such as art, music, and experiential activities during my sessions to help clients to not only cope but overcome past pain. However, if you are not ready to start your journey and are looking for additional tips to manage anxiety about your labor/delivery check out my previous blog Deathly Afraid of Labor & Delivery.

For information about me about my services click here for my full bio.