Navigating Pregnancy After Birth Trauma
Updated: Aug 21
Having a baby should be one of the most incredible, life-changing, and exciting experiences you’ll ever go through. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case for every mother.
Not every pregnancy or birth goes according to plan. The National Institute of Health reports that up to 45% of new mothers experience birth trauma.
Birth trauma can include birth complications (including an emergency C-section), you or your baby suffering an injury, or the need for immediate medical attention after your baby is born. Some women also experience trauma throughout their pregnancy if they run into complications or unexpected difficulties.
Birth trauma doesn’t mean you can’t have more children in the future. But, it might create some mental health issues that make it difficult to navigate your next pregnancy.
Let’s dig a little deeper into how you can work through the trials that can come with pregnancy after you’ve experienced a traumatic birth in the past.
Process What Happened
It might seem easier to try to bury what happened in the past. But emotions will always demand to be felt. When you go through something traumatic, you can never fully get rid of it or keep it out of your mind. The more you try to repress it, the more likely it is to “blow up” when you least expect it.
With that in mind, one of the best ways to move forward with your next pregnancy is to acknowledge what happened to you in the past. By acknowledging what happened, you can start to fully process it. Even if you have to go through the grieving process all over again, it will allow you to let go of the pain and weight of what you experienced so you can move forward.
Explore What Makes You Feel Safe
You can’t always control every aspect of your pregnancy or birthing experience. But the more you plan and prepare, the more confident and comfortable you’ll feel. Consider working closely with your doctors, a doula, or a birthing coach to create a pregnancy/birthing plan that helps to boost your confidence and make you feel more comfortable.
Safety is huge after you’ve been through birth trauma. While every variable isn’t under your control, having a plan in place—even for things that might go “wrong”—will offer you the peace of mind you need to have a calmer pregnancy.
Change Your Perspective
Fear is often cyclical. You might start to experience a lot of fear and stress in a current pregnancy over things that happened in the past. Unfortunately, the more you let those thoughts take control, the worse they’re likely to become.
It’s important to try to change your mindset regarding another pregnancy. Work through your fears and develop strategies to help you overcome them. Recognize that this pregnancy doesn’t have to be the same as the last one. Taking control of your fear makes you less likely to feel anxious, which can help with the entire experience.
Lean On Your Support System
You don’t have to go through any part of the pregnancy process alone. Lean on your partner, family members, friends, and birthing coaches or doctors. Knowing you have people in your corner to support you, no matter your concerns is hugely important. They can help boost your confidence and extinguish safety concerns and serve as shoulders to cry on when you’re processing past trauma.
If you feel like you don’t have someone in your life you can turn to, or you need more individual attention, consider reaching out to a mental health professional. They’ll be with you as you work through it and help you develop strategies to move forward in your current pregnancy. If you find that you’re in that situation, don’t hesitate to contact me for more information or to set up an appointment.
Jennifer Perera is a mom of two boys, a spouse and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She is also Certified as a Perinatal Mental Health Professional by Postpartum Support International. She has a private practice in Springfield, New Jersey and also sees clients throughout New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Illinois via telehealth. Her passion is helping new moms and dads find their joy again in parenthood through individual and couples counseling. She also runs workshops for new parents, teaching them techniques and strategies to help them have a stronger relationship - built to thrive during the parenthood years. Jennifer specializes in working with parents during the prenatal and postpartum periods and those coping with grief or loss issues surrounding pregnancy.