The Silent Pandemic In The Labour Room: How To Deal With A Negligent Birthing Experience

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Earlier this month, the entire nation was saddened as Ashley Cain’s daughter died after her fight with leukaemia. The announcement has resulted in an outpouring of support for the couple, and an animated debate on social media about the mounting infant deaths, either from diagnosed medical conditions or negligence during childbirth. While most parents narrate their birth experience as a time of magic and joy, 30,000 women experience birth trauma every year, a pregnancy taboo that remains rife today. Negligence during birth can have lifelong and impactful consequences for these women, ranging from injuries to the baby, injuries to the mother, or lifelong disabilities. It can also leave a lasting and traumatic emotional scar for new parents to overcome. Understanding and dealing with a negligent childbirth experience takes time, courage, and access to the right support.

Healing Physically Will Help You Heal Emotionally

A difficult or traumatic birth not only harms your mental wellbeing, but can result in an increased medical risk for you. Some mothers may have a tougher recovery postpartum due to an improperly treated incision or overlooked tear. Taking the time to help your body recover from the experience is the first step to dealing with it. The pain and discomfort that you feel during your postpartum recovery can worsen the process of overcoming a traumatic birth by serving as a constant reminder. Instead, take time to rest, seek medical attention if any postpartum complications arise, and don’t be afraid to accept help as you recover.

Get Help For Post Traumatic Stress And Birth Disorder

It is not uncommon for women to experience post-traumatic stress disorder – particularly after a negligent birth. In fact, about two in every 100 women experience PTSD after birth, according to Tommy’s organisation. It is important to remember that it is treatable, and the first step to dealing with it is to accept the signs and decide to seek help. Some of the most common signs of PTSD include having flashbacks or nightmares of the event, anxiety, and even trouble being apart from your baby.

It can be a difficult process to face and try to understand the trauma you experienced during childbirth. In many cases, it is advised that you do so whilst being supported, and while speaking to your partner, family or friends is a good place to start, they may not always be able to help you overcome PTSD as a trained professional can. Many professionals rely on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to treat PTSD. You may also be prescribed anti-anxiety medication if it is a symptom you are experiencing severely. You can also speak to your GP or local midwife about birth reflection services offered in your local hospital. This can help you understand why certain decisions were made during birth, and begin to accept the experience. Being able to access the birth notes and speak to a midwife can also provide clarity on your next steps forward if you decide to speak to malpractice lawyers to determine the basis for your case and any wrongdoings/negligent action you are claiming.

Gain Peer Support From A Support Group Or Birth Organisation

Additional support can be gained by building a strong network around you. That includes reaching out to support groups of people who have experienced similar childbirths and can resonate with your experience. Most times, these groups include visits from grief, PTSD, and mental wellbeing professionals who offer advice on coping with the experience every day, such as through meditation, exercise, or other relaxation techniques. Some useful organisations that provide birth trauma support include Mums Aid, The Birth Trauma Association, Solace for Mothers, and Pandas Foundation UK.

First and foremost, remember to be kind to yourself. The process of understanding and recovering from a negligent birth experience is not an overnight one. You may find yourself grappling with life for some time. However, there is hope at the end of it all. By taking actions and making small steps towards recovery, you can begin to move on and make peace with what happened – stronger and more prepared for the future.

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