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Birth trauma

Birth trauma might be due to one single event, or a mixture of experiences in pregnancy, during birth or after birth. It can be experienced after a physically or mentally exhausting birth, and can also be associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

What are the symptoms?

  • Flashbacks, nightmares or intrusive memories, which make you feel distressed and panicky
  • Avoiding anything that reminds you of the trauma. This can mean refusing to walk past the hospital where you gave birth, or avoiding meeting other women with new babies
  • Feeling hyper-vigilant. You’re constantly alert, irritable and jumpy, and worry that something terrible is going to happen to your baby
  • Feeling low and unhappy. You may feel guilty and blame yourself for your traumatic birth, and you may have difficulty remembering parts of the birth


  • Difficult birth
  • Abnormal foetal position
  • Rapid and quick delivery
  • Physical pain and injury during birth 
  • Mental exhaustion
  • Change of birth plan 
  • Frightening psychological experiences during birth


With the right help and support, it’s possible to recover from birth trauma.

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    I can’t even remember my birth of my baby, the first time I held her, it was all so frightening.”

    Service user

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    If you need urgent help or are worried about a loved one, call the Samaritans on 116 123 or the emergency services on 999.

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