Related to the findings on the mental health of new mothers, what struck me most was that at the time of the survey 63% of mothers were likely to be experiencing some degree of depressive symptoms and 18% appeared to be experiencing symptoms of post traumatic stress related to their birth experience. Most startling, 9% of the mothers appeared to meet all the formal criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder. This is the first national survey of post traumatic stress disorder related to childbirth, and the high number has to be a surprise to most people. Just as troubling a finding, most mothers experiencing symptoms had not contacted a health care professional and only 2 out of 3 mothers who reported that their symptoms interfered with their ability to care for their baby had contacted a professional for help.
The mothers who reported signs of PTSD in the survey appeared to have a higher rate of medical interventions and describe feeling powerless in a threatening environment. I am not surprised. Childbirth educators and doulas have noted for years now the increased incidence of PTSD and have shared with each other women’s stories that seemed to describe a relationship with both the escalating rate of medical intervention..nearly routine induction, unnecessary and frequent internal examinations..and impersonal, routine, and, sometimes abusive treatment of women in labor. It’s not just the stuff that gets done to women…routinely, abruptly, and uncaringly. It’s the powerlessness that women feel in an environment that is inherently frightening at a time when they are vulnerable and literally at the mercy of the system. Gone are the days of kind words and encouragement and loving touch. Now it’s get the job done fast or you’re on the cesarean fast track.(Source)
I am appalled. How many more women will have to suffer before enough of us get angry enough to do something about it?!