What is birth trauma?
A psychologically traumatic birth can include a whole range of situations and experiences. Perhaps the most obvious birth traumas are when the mother or the baby came close to death, were severely injured, or died. Complications during delivery such as emergency c-sections, hemorrhages, precipitous or rapid labors, or other medical complications can leave women feeling traumatized by childbirth. Additionally, health complications for the infant during delivery and situations requiring neonatal intensive care (NICU) may be experienced as trauma. Your emotional experience matters and I welcome you to reach out for treatment if you feel your birth story is unresolved.
Signs of your birth story may be unresolved
- Becoming overwhelmed by emotion when you talk about your birth
- Invalidating your own feelings about your birth story
- Avoiding hearing or reading other women’s experiences of childbirth
- Continuing to try to convince yourself you’re “fine” or you “should be grateful to be alive”
- Details from your birth story flooding your thoughts
- Avoiding reminders of the birth (e.g. the hospital, doctor, mementos from the NICU, etc.)
- Changing the topic or shutting down at the topic of birth, delivery, newborns, the NICU, etc.
- Nightmares or flashbacks
What is postpartum PTSD?
While there is not a separate diagnosis for postpartum PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), postpartum PTSD is a term used to describe PTSD that occurs after giving birth. When childbirth is traumatic or life-threatening, women may experience PTSD symptoms. Complicated deliveries or otherwise traumatic birth experiences are a risk for postpartum PTSD. It is important to note that having a traumatic birth experience does not mean that a woman will develop PTSD. It is possible to have a birth trauma without developing mental health concerns.
Symptoms of postpartum PTSD
Following a traumatic birth, postpartum PTSD includes symptoms in four major categories: intrusion symptoms, avoidance symptoms, negative changes to thoughts and mood, and changes in arousal or reactivity. New moms with PTSD may have nightmares, flashbacks, or intrusive thoughts and memories. They may avoid looking at pictures from the birth, returning to the doctor, holding other people’s babies, or other ways of avoiding reliving the painful experience. Women experiencing postpartum PTSD may have trouble recalling details of the birth or have distorted blame for themselves or others. They may be irritable, startle easily, or have trouble sleeping or concentrating
Treatment for Postpartum PTSD
Evidence-based trauma treatment involves exposure to the trauma. PTSD is often referred to by therapists as a “disorder of avoidance.” The science behind exposure-based treatment is based on overcoming the avoidance and regulating the patient’s emotional reaction to the trauma over time. We will do this safely and at a pace that feels reasonable to you. During the initial stage of treatment, we will focus on building your coping skills. I am experienced in Prolonged Exposure Therapy and Narrative Therapy. Relief is possible and I would love to help you get to there.
$250 / Initial Session (90 min)
$200 / Follow-up Session (55 min)
I am out-of-network with most major insurance carriers. I provide documentation called a “superbill” with which many clients have successfully received reimbursement from their insurance carrier. Please call your health insurance company to ask about the out-of-network behavioral health benefits associated with your specific plan. You may want to ask specifically about CPT codes 90791 (initial session) and 90837 (follow-up session). Because sessions are virtual, you will want to make sure that your insurance company allows for telehealth for behavioral health services.
I accept TRICARE East insurance as a non-network provider. TRICARE East clients located in Maryland are eligible. Please inquire directly so I can provide a full explanation.