We Need to Make Awareness of PTSD at the Birth for Women and Men

02/10/2015 10:56 BST | Updated 01/10/2016 10:12 BST

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder which may develop following exposure to any one of a variety of traumatic events that involve actual or threatened death, or serious injury. Without support and early prevention can manifest in to other areas. Men mainly tend not to talk about the experience of seeing their loved ones going through a traumatic event and turn to drink and other negative coping skills to block the experience out they're minds.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder at the birth is rarely talked about and can happen to both mother and father. We must not forget the family if they are witnessing the labour.The event may be witnessed rather than directly experienced, and even learning about it may be sufficient if the persons involved are a loved one who even an unborn baby. Sufferers may experience flashbacks, panic attacks and heightened awareness. PTSD is sometimes found in ex-military personnel who have been involved in conflict.

My first ever panic attack was at the birth of my son and had never experienced this before in my life. I honestly felt that my wife who I love dearly and my unborn son were going to die. Even many years on I still feel the anxiety I suffered during the twenty two hours labour my wife experienced. We must remember both mother and father can experience PTSD at the birth and both must be debriefed and followed up after the birth of the baby. We must ask professionals to ask the questions and unanswered questions the couple or family may need to know about the event.

Birth can be traumatic in different ways. First, medical problems can result in interventions that can be frightening. The near death of a mother or baby, heavy bleeding, and emergency operations are examples of situations that can cause psychological trauma. For example, Goutaudier et al. (2011) recently reported that premature birth may be traumatic. Second, emotional difficulties in coping with the pain of childbirth can also cause psychological trauma. Lack of support, or insufficient coping strategies to deal with the pain are examples of situations that can cause psychological trauma. Even if others perceive the birth as normal, if the mother perceives it as traumatic, it was traumatic. Childbirth related PTSD can be caused even by a normal birth and should be diagnosed based on symptoms of the mother, not by the events.

NICE Guidelines 2005 state that ' All people with PTSD should be offered a course of trauma-focused psychological treatment (trauma-focussed cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR). EMDR is especially beneficial if the sufferer finds it difficult to talk about the trauma. The goals of treatment are to help sufferers to process traumatic memories fully and thus reduce re-experiencing them, to identify and amend unhelpful thoughts and ways of thinking which maintain the sense of an ongoing threat, and to stop using safety behaviours.

We must make more awareness of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder at the birth and this includes everyone in the labour room who are supporting the women going through the labour.