Two interesting letters in this weeks British Medical Journal (BMJ 2019;365:I22279: BMJ 2019;365:I2286) examine attitudes to childbirth, the psychological trauma that may be caused and the lack of training on birth trauma.
It is now recognised that fear of childbirth and birth trauma have serious implications for women’s, health and wellbeing. It is not usual for women to be debriefed after a “normal “ birth and birth stories may be difficult to hear. It is likely that there is a ‘knowledge deficit” amongst healthcare professionals relating to recognising and responding to a fear of childbirth, birth trauma and post traumatic stress disorder.
Some women describe feeling dehumanised, powerless, out of control, numb or even violated.
Make Birth Better is a national collaboration of parents and professional working to raise awareness around this topic. This form of collective commitment is crucial if we are to protect the emotional and psychological wellbeing of women in relation to childbirth.
The suggestion of this campaign is that birth trauma may be caused by how women were made to feel, the language that was used and what was said to them in labour.
As clinicians we need to be ever vigilant that we listen, treat women with dignity, are careful in the use of language and that we ourselves also have time to reflect on the trauma that we are exposed to everyday, particularly in the NHS.