A new study shows that up to 1/3 of women reported a traumatic childbirth experience, with up to 9% reportedly experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which can cause women to limit future reproduction, damage their ability to bond with their babies, and leave them permanently psychologically scarred.
Results showed that women who suffered a traumatic birth experience went down two paths regarding breastfeeding: they either embraced it as a way to "prove" themselves as a good mother after a difficult birth and steeling their resolve to breastfeed, or for others, it caused intrusive flashbacks, detachment, and physical pain that ultimately caused them to cease breastfeeding.
The authors concluded that:
...intensive one-on-one support for traumatized mothers may be necessary to help them establish breastfeeding. Sensitivity and awareness by medical professionals of the traumatized mother’s needs may also be helpful.
It was also suggested that healthcare providers be more aware to the signs of a traumatic birth, including temporary amnesia, remaining detached and poor eye contact/a dazed look.
The research study: “Impact of Birth Trauma on Breastfeeding – A Tale of Two Pathways,” appears in the July/August 2008 issue of Nursing Research and was co-authored by Cheryl Tatano Beck, Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor of Nursing and Sue Watson, chairperson of the Trauma and Birth Stress charitable trust.