Speaking to someone
If you feel that you are experiencing some of the problems discussed on our website, please remember that you are not alone and that you are not to blame. However, it is important that you seek help.
You will need to find someone who will be sympathetic and understanding. You may find these options helpful:
- Your GP
- Your midwife
- Your Health visitor
- A counsellor
- Family and friends
- Speak/email one of our volunteer supporters
- Chat to other women on the web boards used by BTA members
- Put out an appeal on our site for women who may live in your area or who may have encountered the problems you faced with your birth
Awareness about this problem varies enormously, so if you do not feel that your health professional understands, please show them our leaflet or contact us for more advice.
It may also help to go through your notes with someone at the hospital where you gave birth. Click here for more information
Take care of yourself
Be aware of your limitations; don't try to do too much. Don't blame yourself for not coping. Tend to your needs. Make time for time-out. Use aromatherapy, homeopathy, yoga, exercise, relaxation techniques; anything that works for you.
Establish some normal routines. Sometimes, sticking to a routine involves less thought and planning.
Good nutrition is vital. Eat a well balanced diet. Eat to maintain your optimum energy, which means keeping your blood sugar levels constant. A low blood sugar level leaves you feeling tired, listless and shaky while a high blood sugar level gives you a short-lived buzz. Avoid simple carbohydrates like sugar and refined white flour which are easily digested and metabolised rapidly, giving an almost immediate energy high, followed later by a significant energy slump. Avoid also caffeine, which is found in tea, coffee, chocolate and some fizzy drinks; also avoid smoking, alcohol and added salt.
Consult your GP, pharmacist, health shop rep, a nutritionist or dietician, etc. for specific advice concerning your particular nutritional needs.
Speak to the Hospital
Many people find that it is helpful to go through their hospital records relating to their birth experience with a health care professional like a doctor or midwife. You have the right to obtain a copy of your records and you should talk to your Health Visitor about how you can do this. You can also write directly to the Head of Maternity Services at your local hospital about this. They should both be able to advise you about how you can best arrange an appointment with someone to go through your notes.
The BTA has prepared a leaflet to help you obtain a copy of your maternity notes. Click here for a copy. But do let us know if you require any further help or assistance with this. We will help as much as we can with any problems you might encounter.
It may help you to write down any concerns you have about your birth experience and send them to your local hospital. It is important that they receive this feedback and that they are made aware of any problems with their service. There are time limits involved and more information can be obtained through the Patient Advice and Liaison Service. Click here "DEAD LINK" for details.
Types of Treatment
Our Expert Board member, Psychologist Dr Susan Ayers, advises:
PN PTSD is best treated by psychotherapy. There are a number of different types of psychotherapy available which range from counselling to cognitive behavioural therapy. Counselling usually provides a supportive environment for you to talk through your problems. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is more structured therapy where you go over the events of your birth experience, look at your perceptions and thought processes, and use relaxation techniques to try and create a safe environment in which you can go over particularly difficult or traumatic aspects of your birth. CBT has been shown to be effective for PTSD and is therefore the treatment of choice. It usually involves 6 to 10 sessions of up to an hour over the course of two or three months. Medication can also help in some cases, in the form of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s). These are also used as anti-depressants so if you are on anti-depressant medication it is worth checking whether it is an SSRI.
As yet there are very few services set up for PN PTSD specifically. Some hospitals offer midwife-led services, which usually involve an appointment to go over the events of your birth with a midwife or doctor who has your notes available. This can be useful in terms of understanding why particular decisions were made or particular interventions occurred. However, it is unlikely to resolve established symptoms of PN PTSD.
A few hospitals in the UK do offer psychotherapy as a part of their Obstetric service so it is worth checking whether your hospital has this and whether you would be eligible. However, more commonly you would have to go to your GP and ask for a referral to a clinical psychologist for PN PTSD.
It is also possible to arrange cognitive behavioural therapy privately. The British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies has a list of all UK accredited CBT therapists. However, most chartered psychologists will be able to offer CBT and a list of chartered psychologists in the UK can be obtained from the British Psychological Society.