Is Having A Baby A Traumatic Event?

Illustration for article titled Is Having A Baby A Traumatic Event?

A new survey says that 9% of postpartum women suffer from post traumatic stress disorder. You know, the same disorder that Iraq vets and plane crash survivors get. Something does not compute here, especially when you read further into the Wall Street Journal piece about this increasingly common affliction. "Childbirth-related PTSD became more of a focus of study only after 1995, when the American Psychiatric Association broadened criteria for the disorder," the Journal notes. In addition, the treatment is the same for childbirth-related PTSD and regular postpartum depression: talk therapy and sometimes anti-depressants like Zoloft. At the bottom of the WSJ article, there is a list of symptoms of PTSD vs postpartum depression, and while the PTSD symptoms are more specific, they also fit the criterion for regular old postpartum blues. Of course, women should feel comfortable speaking up and getting help about whatever issues they have in those difficult post-birth months, but something still irks me about this classification of childbirth as "trauma."Have we become so precious and hyper-conscious that something women have been doing for time immemorial is now ranked alongside war as a painful event? Besides, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association, the kind of anxiety experienced by people with PTSD is felt by 1 in 10 people — about on par with the 9% of women who get postpartum PTSD. Even Shari Lusskin, director of reproductive psychiatry at New York University Medical Center, tells the WSJ, "We don't want to overmedicalize a normal part of human development…Just because you had a traumatic birth, doesn't mean you'll get PTSD." It's sort of a pat explanation to say that the diagnosis of PTSD in women post-childbirth is all a big pharma conspiracy to get women hooked on anti-depressants, and I think that it's much more complicated than that. Certainly, having a bowling ball of a baby shooting out your vag isn't a picnic for anyone, but the hysteria surrounding something so matter-of-fact is troubling. Birth Trauma: Stress Disorder Afflicts Moms [WSJ]

DISCUSSION

@haguenite:

Agreed. My daughter and I would have *both* died in childbirth if it weren't for the quick-mindedness and level-headedness of my OB/GYN.

I guess I can understand the aversion to labeling "something natural" as "traumatic".

However, I am not the only woman on this list who has had an awful, traumatic birth experience.

Strangely enough, I didn't suffer after that birth. But I suffered like hell after the second child, and had to go on SSRIs to keep from killing myself and my child.

SO, uhm, yeah.