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Hope and Healing for Birth Trauma

Educating and equipping through compassionate connection

About Birth Trauma Ontario

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Birth Trauma is a Global Health Crisis

Currently in the developed world, about one in three parents reports that their birth was traumatic. That's not the same thing as 'unexpected' or 'disappointing'. A traumatic birth is defined by certain characteristics that leaves the parent reeling from the experience, feeling helpless, trapped, frightened, and violated. Further, about one in ten mothers enters parenthood with post-traumatic stress disorder. And many more, while not presenting with PTSD, will be dealing with some of the symptoms of trauma. They're also much more likely to be dealing with postpartum depression and anxiety. Birth trauma is truly a global health crisis.

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Understanding the Issue

Research from around the world has offered us evidence-based information into the causes and solutions for birth-related trauma. An emergency, especially if there has been a catastrophic loss, can be traumatic and can cause PTSD. However, the most common reason a birth becomes traumatic is because of how the mother was treated by her care team. Disrespectful, abusive, and violating treatment where the mother feels trapped and helpless can lead to PTSD, postpartum depression and anxiety. Birth Trauma Ontario advocates for trauma-informed care for all parents. We offer a place where mothers can share their experiences and find support and validation from those who truly understand. 

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Evidence-Based Answers

Fortunately, there are scientifically-sound answers to stemming the pandemic of birth trauma, and the PTSD, postpartum depression and anxiety that can follow . Maternity providers and birth professionals can learn the specific skills of trauma-informed care. A trauma-informed professional has the knowledge, the relevant understanding, and the applicable skills to ensure each birthing parent is skilfully supported in a health-and-resilience paradigm that benefits both parents and professionals. Trauma-informed professionals advocate for respectful services in all maternity settings. We help to connect professionals to trauma-informed education and birthing parents to trauma-informed providers.

You didn't ask for this journey through birth trauma, postpartum depression and anxiety. We're here to advocate for parents and professionals to ensure all babies arrive with dignity and respect and all parents emerge from their baby's birth whole, cared-for, and prepared for the journey ahead. We advocate for trauma-informed education for all birth professionals to change the course of maternity care globally. We're glad you found us but we're so sorry you need us.

What is birth trauma?

Birth trauma used to mean damage to the baby as result of the birth. Now it means the after-effects of a traumatic experience for the mother, including postpartum PTSD. Learn what trauma is, what makes a birth traumatic, and how it affects the mother, the baby, and the family. You will gain understanding into the effects of trauma and make sense of your symptoms.

Healing from birth trauma: food that helps

In this session you will gain a deeper understanding into the effects of trauma on the brain. Not everyone who has a traumatic experience develops PTSD. You'll learn what puts someone at risk for developing trauma, the effects of trauma on the brain, and what foods can make a difference in your healing. This takes a research-based approach so that you can feel confident in your choices to help heal a trauma-injured brain.

Secondary trauma in birth professionals - hope and healing

Secondary or vicarious trauma is the result of working with clients who are dealing with trauma or from witnessing traumatic births. About 1/3 of midwives and nurses have symptoms of secondary trauma. About half of all doulas are dealing with vicarious trauma. In this research-based session, you'll learn the factors that increase the likelihood of experiencing secondary trauma or burnout and proven strategies for healing from trauma.

Birthing after trauma

Whether the trauma is the result of a previous birth experience or the result of previous traumatic experiences, giving birth with trauma in one's past requires special attention. In this session, you'll learn the effects of trauma on the pregnant and birthing individual and how it impacts their choices. You'll learn your options for birthing and how to communicate with your care team and supporters. Care providers and doulas will learn more about supporting clients that are asking for trauma-informed care. 

Birth plans - a trauma-informed agreement that works

"Go ahead and write a birth plan but just remember to be flexible" is generally code for "you're going to get what's on the menu and we don't want you to be disappointed". The birth plan is your chance to communicate with your care team but it's generally regarded as a "wish list" and an annoyance for your medical care team. In this session you'll learn why birth plans are often ineffective and how to create a tool for communicating with your supporters that will make a difference.

Being an effective supporter for clients-of-trauma

The wise care provider and doula recognises that many of their clients are arriving with previous trauma. It might have been a previously traumatic birth, or it might have been previous sexual or childhood abuse. These clients require specialised considerations. Trauma-informed care understands the effects of trauma on the client's well being and choices. It responds with appropriate actions that ensures the client's safety, that their coping strategies are honoured, and their resilience is acknowledged and fostered. 

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