Birth Stories

The stories below are just a few of those we have received from women. All the women here have very kindly allowed us to post their experiences on our site because they want to help other women feel less isolated. They also believe that by making their stories public, they can help us identify the types of maternity practices which create traumatic experiences.


NB: The stories are categorised to make it easier to browse, however, each of the stories has many different events and obstetric complications that led to birth trauma

Subsequent Pregnancy and Recovery Stories

Cassie had a traumatic undiagnosed breech birth with her first baby. She suffered heavy bleeding and needed complicated treatment for an episiotomy repair. Her subsequent baby was born in less than two hours and was a much happier and healing experience.
Karen searched for years for a resolution of her  PTSD following a planned homebirth that ended in an emergency section. Here she retells her experience and what she learned about PTSD and its treatment in the hope that others will not go through the same heartache.
Annie talks about the trauma of her first birth which resulted in a ventouse delivery. Annie was left with a torn cervix, with massive bloodloss and needed to be stitched in surgery. Her son weighed in at a huge 10lbs 14ozs. Annie then goes on to talk about her second birth which was a much more positive experience.
Karen had a traumatic ventouse delivery with her first baby (see below) but has had another baby since, delivered at home, which was a very positive experience.
My Traumatic Birth - From Clouds to Silver Linings by Monic Joint
Monic talks about her traumatic first birth and her very positive second birth.

Caesarean Section

Heidi begged for an epidural but there were not enough midwives, finally she had a caesarean section without proper anaesthesia. and was deeply traumatised. Much better support for a subsequent birth was a much more positive experience.
Helen was initially told she was not in labour by a midwife and had to have an emergency Caesarean. Her daughter was immediately taken to SCBU. Helen still thinks about her daughter's birth a year on.
Jo was cruelly treated by one midwife and did not have her pain relief needs met. Her labour ended in a much delayed emergency section which has left her deeply traumatised. She received poor postnatal support.
Jenny had a traumatic first birth after a long labour ending in a placental abruption, emergency caesarean and post-partum haemorrhage, she developed PND as a result of her experience. Her second child was a VBAC and a much more positive experience.
Emma explains how her daughter’s birth twelve years ago still affects her today.
Anne's induction resulted in an emergency caesarean section.
Angela's induction ends up as an emergency caesarean section.
Rosie's homebirth ended in an emergency caesarean section.
Sharmika had an emergency caesarean section followed by a serious infection that went undiagnosed for 11 days. She then experienced very painful nerve entrapment that was undiagnosed for several months. She is still in a lot of pain. 
Carla had her first baby at 19 years old and suffered a placental abruption. She ended up having an emergency c-section and received terrible aftercare.
Christine's homebirth ended in an emergency caesarean section.
Amy, the intense pain and fear that Amy suffered during her long labour which resulted in an emergency section has left her deeply traumatised.
Alison was not listened to by midwives, was in terrible pain, found gas and air unhelpful and was totally exhausted. Alison is deeply upset and suffers nightmares about the birth.
Jessica was denied pain relief with no justification. She is now pregnant again.
Lucy's induction resulted in a caesarean section and poor postnatal care.
Poor communication and unsympathetic staff left Sonia deeply traumatised as a result of her caesarean delivery.
Jo desperately wanted to avoid a caesarean but she was treated badly by a few unsympathetic and overstretched staff who did not respect her wishes or treat her with respect.
Michaela was operated on without an effective anaesthetic and the notes made no reference to the incident. The affect on her life has been appalling and it has made her frightened to have another baby.
Krystle had a caesarean and suffered an internal bleed. She was treated particularly badly by one midwife.
Emma had a terrible experience during her caesarean section which was carried out without proper analgesia. She was told she was 'imagining' the pain by a nurse, despite the anaesthetist saying the analgesia was not right. She would like to contact women who have been through similar experiences.
Vicky had to have an emergency C-section after her baby was found to be breech, despite being told at 34, 36 and 38 weeks that her baby's head was engaged. She received appalling care both during and after delivery and also suffered a massive hemorrhage 5 weeks after the birth.
Cheryl had rhesus disease during her fifth pregnancy and when her titre level rose to 67, her baby became very ill. She received appalling care and was very traumatised by her experience.
Carey talks about her 'most wanted baby' and caesarean delivery, she felt very scared and not listened too. She suffered terrible guilt afterwards and did not bond with her baby for 7 months.
Sonia wanted a natural birth and was deeply traumatised by unsympathetic staff who did not understand or listen to her.
Emilie, who's based in the US, had an emergency caesarean when her baby's heartrate dropped. She also had a severe postpartum haemorrhage. 


Charlotte 23 hours of labour resulted in a failed ventouse attempt, emergency forceps delivery and Charlotte suffered a 3rd degree tear.
Rachel's traumatic experience led to her developing postnatal depression and affected her deeply for many years after the birth.
Grace is haunted by her forceps delivery and episiotomy 15 years on.
Emily had a long labour resulting in an emergency forceps delivery after her baby's heart rate dropped. She also had a large episiotomy and a failed epidural.
Sonia suffered appalling pain and severe perineal trauma. It has put her off having more children.
Anna's traumatic birth experiences affected her for many years and eventually led to the breakdown of her marriage.
Mel was withheld pain relief for no reason and spoken to in an appalling manner. Mel is also a lesbian and feels her partner was ignored and not kept informed.
Yvonne had a very long latent phase with very poor pain relief resulting in a forceps delivery.
Hannah explains how staff shortages led to her having a terrible experience during the birth of her baby. She feels strongly that women should not be made to feel guilty when they have problems breastfeeding.
Evangelia felt she had lost control of the situation when she had to have a forceps delivery after a failed ventouse. Problems with breastfeeding left her devastated.
Lyn's experience of traumatic birth has lived with her for many years. She wasn’t listened to or involved in any of the decision making about the birth nor was there time to explain the possible implications of the traumatic birth on the baby.


Denise didn't receive any pain relief until she was 8cm dilated due to a staff error, was shouted at for pushing "all wrong" and left fully dilated for nearly six hours due to a shortage of doctors to perform a ventouse delivery.
Lucy’s husband was initially turned away when she arrived at hospital. Staff were ‘too busy’ to give her pain relief for an agonising birth. Her baby was poorly when born but communication and support after the birth was terrible. By contrast, staff at the Special care unit were wonderful.
Annie's son was born by ventouse.
Rachel wanted a natural birth but was not listened to and received appalling care.
Neena received appalling care, had a ventouse delivery and suffered a retained placenta.
Sian's baby was occipito posterior, she had a ventouse delivery and suffered a breast abscess six weeks after the birth.
Dee was ignored by staff and diagnosed with PN Depression following the birth of her daughter. She is now pregnant again.
Briony felt forced to have an epidural she didn't want and felt humiliated by staff, she went on to develop PTSD.
Karen was put on a syntocinon drip and had a long labour resulting in a ventouse delivery. She suffered post traumatic stress and depression.
Paula was slapped during labour by the midwife and has experienced long term agonising pain and faecal incontinence following childbirth.


Vicki felt overlooked in a long labour that ended in a traumatic post partum haemorrhage. Aftercare and communication was very poor and three years later Vicki still feels traumatised.
Charise suffered a massive obstetric haemorrhage following the birth of her son. She feels that she was robbed of the birth she should have had. Click here to see the update to Charise's story following her debrief.
Polly was told she wasn't in labour and was not given proper pain relief. She had to have an emergency hysterectomy and both she and her partner are still coming to terms with what happened to her.
Sarah was advised to stay at home for longer than she wanted to before her daughter was born so was not able to make the choices about her birth she wanted to. She lost a lot of blood following the birth and was not kept informed about what was happening to her, and this still affects her.
Jenny had a difficult birth, suffered a haematoma and poor post natal care (PDF 50kb).
Sonia hemorrhaged and had trouble bonding with her daughter.
Louise received appalling care both during labour and after. She had a massive blood loss, torn cervix and uterus and was catheterised for weeks after giving birth with major complications that followed.
Emma had planned a home birth but ended up having an emergency C-section. Over 2 weeks later she suffered a PPH with massive blood loss resulting in a hysterectomy.

Sal had previously had an emergency caesarean but after trying the 2nd time round for a vaginal birth she suffered a uterine rupture losing 5 units of blood. Sal's baby was without oxygen for 6 minutes and spent 3 weeks in special care. Update to Sal's story - Sal talks about her daughter Emmy who has now been diagnosed with athetoid cerebral palsy.


Jo's baby ended up in SCBU after her induction and emergency caesarean. She explains how she has come to terms with this.
Susan's son was born early. She had problems with the removal of the placenta.
Chantal was diabetic and the traumatic birth of her first child made her insist on a subsequent caesarean. She believes that staff need to be more sympathetic and understanding.
Lizzy suffered symphysis pubis dysfunction and her baby was admitted to SCBU. This story is a letter of complaint and the outcome.
Wanda gave birth to her daughter at 27 weeks. She was not listened to and told by staff that she 'wasn't in labour' even though she was.
Karen's baby was born as the result of an induction. Karen was not listened to and her baby's speedy delivery resulted in an entirely avoidable injury.
Briony went into labour at 27 weeks and her baby spent 9 weeks in SCBU. Briony was left very traumatised by events which included having her cervix stitched.
Sharon's baby weighed 11lb 12½oz and had to spend 3 very traumatic weeks in SCBU after failing to breathe for 8 minutes after delivery.
Alison was expecting a very large baby and the birth was very traumatic resulting in the baby suffering shoulder distocia.

Other causes of PTSD

Heather's StoryThe shock of Heather's unexpected pregnancy and rapid birth left her traumatised. 
Zara had a normal pregnancy, but tore badly during labour and thought she was going to die. Two years on, she is still coming to terms with what happened to her.'
Sally was diagnosed with severe postnatal depression and anxiety after her
second child was born but the root cause was post traumatic stress following her first birth. It was a normal, uncomplicated delivery, but the poor communication and lack of reassurance from the midwives led her to believe that she and her daughter were going to die.
Kim had Group Strep B and was induced. She suffered appalling care and her requests for pain relief were ignored (PDF 69kb).
Sue was in labour for 5 days and suffered so badly with PTSD that she tried to kill herself and her baby.
Lynda is pregnant again and terrified. In previous labours, she was left in terrible pain and the trauma affected her relationship with her partner.
Louise had many obstetric complications but her treatment left her feeling degraded and her postnatal care was appalling. She is worried about future pregnancies.
Tina's insensitive treatment during an operative delivery and poor aftercare left her deeply traumatised.
Tracy suffered terrible psychological problems following a traumatic birth which began with an early induction. She suffered lack of continuity of care, privacy, unendurable pain and worst of all a general lack of kindness and understanding from the overstretched staff.
Mel experienced hours of agonising labour before she got the pain relief she requsted. She finally had a caesarean section and felt very depressed after the birth. She tried to talk to the Health Visitor about how depressed she felt and was told not to talk about it to her or she would have to recommend the baby was taken into care.
Alicia suffered a traumatic experience as a result of very poor communication. Her story illustrates that birth related PTSD can occur even when there has not been an emergency or prolonged or difficult labour.

Father/Partner Stories

Brian felt responsible, that he had somehow let his wife down after she suffered a very traumatic birth. Brian felt terribly guilty that he had not done more and found it difficult to forgive himself for not being able to prevent her pain.
Nick’s fiancée developed pre-eclampsia which progressed to HELLP Syndrome when being induced. Eighteen months later they are still coming to terms with both post natal depression and birth related PTSD.

Gary felt extremely traumatised by what he saw in the delivery room and says he sometimes feels detached from his daughter.

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