You may develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) if you experience:
- a difficult labour with a long and painful delivery
- an unplanned caesarean section
- emergency treatment
- other shocking, unexpected and traumatic experiences during birth.
This is also called birth trauma. The impact of these experiences is often underestimated, as people may feel that the baby is adequate compensation for the trauma and that, as a new mother, you will soon forget it in the joy of motherhood.
However, a traumatic childbirth and developing PTSD can impair your relationship with both your baby and your partner. You may feel acute disappointment that childbirth was not the experience you were hoping for, and feel angry with the medical staff if you felt that the delivery wasn't handled well. If you develop PTSD, you're likely to also experience flashbacks or unwanted memories of the traumatic birth. This might mean that you feel anxious about having another baby. Here is what one mother said:
"I had a traumatic birth. I was so petrified that my son would die that in my head it was easier not to love him just in case."