The Unique Impact of Childbirth:

The transition after giving birth is a significant milestone in a woman’s life, but for some it can be a traumatic experience. Birth trauma refers to physical or emotional distress experienced by the birth individual during the stages leading up to childbirth and postpartum. This type of trauma can take many forms, from physical complications during childbirth to emotional distress due to unexpected outcomes.  

For many mothers and partners who experienced a difficult birth felt powerless and anxious as they awaited the end of a procedure, which can be emotionally distressing. 

The experience of birth can be overwhelming, triggering a range of emotions such as vulnerability, helplessness, and uncertainty. 


Understanding Birth Trauma

 After returning home, it’s important to acknowledge the physical & emotional challenges that may come after a difficult birth. Some women may struggle with their feelings towards their baby, they may feel their baby does not love them. While others might not feel a sense of connection with their baby, leading to guilt and shame. For others, they may have difficulty sleeping at night or experience reoccurring thoughts of the traumatic event. Partners who witnessed the trauma might feel helpless or lost in the process. 

*The impact of a difficult birth does not only impact the mother but also the baby and the family as a whole.

Intersection of ADHD & Birth Trauma

ADHD can exacerbate the experience of birth trauma. Mothers with ADHD may have difficulties with emotional regulation, processing information, and coping mechanisms, which can intensify the impact of traumatic experiences. This can lead to an increased risk of developing postpartum depression or anxiety. 

Women with a late diagnosis of ADHD often have existing trauma in their hearts and bodies. During a traumatic birth experience, this past trauma can be triggered, resulting in an influx of stress hormones. This can cause a protective state of being, which may delay both physical and emotional healing.

A snap view of my story

As I was being taken into surgery for a C-section, I was in a heightened emotional state. Despite the anesthesiologist’s assurance that I wouldn’t feel anything, I did. It felt like I could feel everything. And the moment when my son was born, and he had not cried yet, that minute or two where no one said anything to me, created a sense of terror.  

The experience of birth trauma can range from a few seconds to an extended period of time. Regardless of the duration, it can have a profound effect on one’s body, brain, heart, and soul.

Birth trauma in the United States

Right before having my son, I binged on the Netflix show, Call the Midwife, for better or worse it gave me comfort in watching the brave women give birth in some of the most difficult circumstances. Yet, it also increased my anxiety as I saw all the numerous complications that can come with childbirth. 

However, what I enjoyed most about the show was watching the evolution of childbirth practices. Yet, I wondered if childbirth practices have come such a long way over the past 100 years, why in the United States do we continue to receive a D+ rating. 

Based on the March of Dimes report card that was released again in2023, our country is failing our mothers across multiple factors. There are so many reasons I could go into here, but I would like to highlight one below.

The Importance of Informed Consent

Informed consent is the cornerstone of patient-centered care and is especially crucial in the context of childbirth. Every person deserves to be fully informed of the risks and benefits of any medical procedure and intervention. This information gives the right to make informed decisions about their own body. In cases where women’s rights have not been respected, they may blame themselves and carry the weight of their experiences on their shoulders. This can lead to long-lasting physical and emotional effect.

My personal experience with birth trauma was multi-layered. However, in looking back I feel the main factor was the lack of informed consent that I felt each step of the way. This isn’t to place blame on doctors or anyone, but rather it’s about raising awareness that collectively -as a society- maybe the whole system can be better. 

EMDR & Birth Trauma

If you suspect that you experienced trauma from your birth, sharing your story can help. Below I list 5 ways to support yourself in navigating life after trauma. Sometimes those things are not enough in supporting your healing journey. This is where therapy can help. There are many evidence-based interventions that can help address trauma. My focus is on healing and repairing any interruptions in the birthing-parenting transition process through EMDR. Once a mother has healed from her own trauma, a space to connect with her child and what they experienced during their birth process has been created.

EMDR, or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, is an evidence-based therapy approach that can help mothers work through their birth trauma. It’s one of the most effective therapies available and can be completed in as few as 5-10 sessions.

The EMDR therapy process for birth trauma typically involves a few sessions to discuss your story, a couple of sessions for a preparation, a few more for reprocessing and desensitization, and a final phase for reevaluation and closure. During the process, EMDR uses a self-rating system and somatic check-ins to determine the effectiveness of treatment. By the end of the process, you will have significant relief from your emotional symptoms. Here is a beautiful blog that goes in more depth about birth trauma and EMDR.

Birth Trauma → Healing Your Birth Story: Processing Birth Trauma with EMDR (

5 Tips to Support Healing After Birth Trauma.

1. Share your story. 

Write anything and everything down when you are ready. Then, tell your story with a trusted person. Not just one or two parts of your story but your whole birthing story. 

2. Practice taking deep breaths. Breathing in through your nose, holding it for a few seconds before releasing it. Do this as often as you need to but especially as you feel tension in your body. Pair this with a calming mantra.

3. Take some time to read more on birth trauma and its effects on the human body. It’s important to know how our minds and bodies are programmed to help us survive. Yet when a prolonged state of survival it can impede the natural healing process. This, in turn, can have long-term effects on our health and overall well-being.   

4. Connect with others who also experienced a traumatic birth. This might be on facebook, a support group, or with other friends who can relate.   

5. Meet with a professional to support your healing. 

Our body, mind, spirit, and soul want to heal our wounds, no matter what form they take. Sometimes they just need a little guidance to steer and move the healing along. 

Seeking Professional Help:

It’s essential to seek professional help early. This is not a time to ignore what is coming up for you or brush it off saying it will pass. No matter what your experiences with childbirth were, your search led you here for a reason. 

Mothers with ADHD can benefit from seeking out ADHD-informed therapists or counselors who can offer tailored treatment and support. Remember that seeking help is a sign of strength and can lead to a healthier, happier life.

These symptoms are not meant to be used for diagnosis, but rather to raise awareness of the potential emotional toll of birth trauma.

If you are a Mom living in Minnesota and would like to work with me, refer back to page: Birth Trauma – Parent-Child Bond