When a woman discloses that the delivery of her baby was traumatic, professionals should emphasise that any further discussion is based on the woman’s consent to speak, safety, being trustworthy, and emphasising her choice regarding any next steps.

Leeds Perinatal Mental Health Service can provide specialist support for women experiencing birth trauma or who are experiencing a fear of childbirth due to a previous traumatic delivery.

Unfortunately, some women may experience the delivery of their baby as a traumatic experience. This may include experiencing symptoms such as intrusive images and memories of the birth experience, disturbing dreams, and heightened emotion when talking about the experience.

Some women may benefit from psychological support when they have experienced birth-related trauma. This may include therapeutic input for women experiencing a fear of childbirth due to a previous traumatic birth. Where this is identified, the woman should be referred to the Leeds Perinatal Mental Health Service for specialist support. It should be noted that to reduce any risk of re-traumatisation, any initial disclosure of trauma should be sensitively handled and the woman’s active consent to the referral for specialist support should be ensured.

If a new mother shows symptoms of trauma about her birth experience, professionals should follow the principles of trauma-informed care. These include:

  • Collaboration – ensuring the woman’s active and ongoing consent to continuing the discussion.   Provide space for listening if the woman wishes to share her experiences.
  • Safety – bring any detailed discussion of the traumatic experience to an end if the woman shows emotional distress such that continuing would be counterproductive.
  • Trustworthiness and transparency – Do what you say you will. Reliably follow-up on any actions agreed. Be clear about confidentiality and its limits.
  • Empowerment and choice – Offer the woman a choice about any follow-up, signposting / onward referral or no further intervention.