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
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 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