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At least the baby is healthy! And other things people say.

If you experienced birth trauma, we do not have to tell you how real it is and how debilitating it can be. Unfortunately, we may need to tell your mom, your co-workers, friends, healthcare providers, and maybe even your partner. They may see the outcome of a healthy baby as a success regardless of what happened to you during the process. What they don't understand is birth trauma can be experienced during any labor and birth, regardless of outcome, even when it appears that everything went smoothly. It can be due to an urgent or emergency caesarean section, unwanted interventions, fear of the unknown and unexplained, feeling powerless, or any other trigger that causes significant stress to MOM. It is defined by each individual, and no one can tell a mom she did not experience trauma or PTSD as a result of her experience.

In the wake of a traumatic birth, people often say things like: "At least mom and the baby are healthy." Or, they omit mom altogether: "At least the baby is healthy." "Next time it will be different." "It's just one day in your life." "Thank goodness for modern medicine." It is likely that many, if not the majority, of these people are just trying to say something nice to make you feel better; this doesn't make it okay. How do you respond to these dismissive and insensitive phrases? Well, maybe you don't because you're tired and still processing. In this case you might want to vent to someone who understands, like your partner or a close friend and/or seek help from a professional or support group. Maybe you do have the energy or are so overwhelmed with frustration that you NEED to set this person straight. Below are some examples of how to respond to these kinds of statements. Insert your own descriptions and feelings, and don't be afraid to let people know that you can be thankful for your healthy baby AND unhappy with your experience:

"Yes, I'm so glad she's doing well. It was a very scary experience and I'm still trying to wrap my head around it."

"Thank you for your well wishes. He is amazing. I only wish I had been treated as kindly during the birth as I am now."

"I'm in love, but it is weighing heavy on me that I felt so powerless bringing her into the world."

"We're so thankful for his safe birth. It's too bad I didn't feel like I was treated with kindness and respect during the process."

Experiencing birth trauma puts mom at risk for perinatal posttraumatic stress disorder and should not be taken lightly. How you feel about your birth experience matters. It is perfectly acceptable to be upset. You know your baby's health is important! You are glad your baby is doing well! You can love your baby and hate the experience of birthing that baby all at the same time! You also know what it feels like to experience fear, guilt, trauma, and sadness during one of the most important events of your life. You are entitled to feel all of your complex feelings. Do you know there are lots of other moms feeling the sadness, the grief, the pain, and the guilt, too? Find a support group and meet some of these women. Find a therapist to talk to. Tell your partner how you're feeling. Whatever you do, don't keep it quiet. You deserve to feel better.


Prevention and Treatment of Traumatic Birth. PATTCh is a collective of birth and mental health experts dedicated to the prevention and treatment of traumatic childbirth.

International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN). Offers information and support regarding the prevention of unnecessary cesareans and recovery from cesareans, including recovery from birth trauma.

ICAN of Seattle's Facebook group. This closed group offers online support for the members of the Seattle chapter of the International Cesarean Awareness Network.

Improving Birth. A national nonprofit organization founded to bring evidence-based care and humanity to childbirth.

Motherisk. Offers evidence-based information on the risk or safety of drugs, chemicals, and disease during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Solace for Mothers. Provides information and support for mothers who experienced childbirth trauma.

The Birth Trauma Association. A United Kingdom-based organization providing help to women traumatized by childbirth.

Trauma and Birth Stress (TABS). Provides information for women recovering from a traumatic childbirth and from birth stress.

Black Women Do VBAC. Offers an empowering forum for black mothers for sharing and learning about options for vaginal birth after cesarean.

Blogs and Articles

When Birth is Traumatic, by local professional, Cynthia Good Mojab, MS, LMHCA, IBCLC, RLC, CATSM.

The Impact of Traumatic Childbirth on Health through the Undermining of Breastfeeding, by Cynthia Good Mojab, MS, LMHCA, IBCLC, RLC, CATSM.

Pain, Suffering, and Trauma in Labor and Subsequent Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, by Penny Simkin, PT, CCE, CD (DONA): Post One and Post Two.

The Truth About Traumatic Birth


Birth Crisis, by Sheila Kitzinger

Cesarean Voices, by ICAN

Cut, Stapled, and Mended: When One Woman Reclaimed Her Body and Gave Birth on Her Own Terms After Cesarean, by Roanna Rosewood

Heal My PTSD, by Michele Rosenthal

Rebounding from Childbirth: Toward Emotional Recovery, by Lynn Madsen

Survivor Moms: Women's Stories of Birthing, Mothering and Healing after Sexual Abuse, by Mickey Sperlich, CPM, MA, and Julia Seng, PhD, CNM

Transformed by Postpartum Depression: Women's Stories of Trauma and Growth, by Walker Karraa

Traumatic Childbirth, by Cheryl Tatano Beck, Jeanne Watson Driscoll, and Sue Watson

When Survivors Give Birth: Understanding and Healing the Effects of Early Sexual Abuse on Childbearing Women, by Penny Simkin and Phyllis Klaus

About the Author

Perinatal Support Washington is a nonprofit organization committed to lifting the veil on perinatal mood and anxiety disorders and treating them effectively.

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