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Trauma Informed Care
Hope & Healing for Birth Trauma

Educating and equipping through compassionate connection

About Birth Trauma Ontario

Birth Trauma Ontario heart in hands

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 eight 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.

Mother sitting on bed breastfeeding baby

Understanding the Issue

Research from around the world has provided us with a wealth of 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 felt she 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 is here to help by connecting with care providers and parents with education and hope. 

Nurse helping woman breastfeed

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 . We provide education and skills development for maternity providers and birth professionals in trauma-informed care. An individual, a clinic, or an organisation can become trauma-informed in order to support clients in a culturally appropriate, health-and-resilience paradigm that improves patient outcomes. We provide parents with an enlightening education that helps them to understand the causes and effects of birth trauma along with strategies to enhance their recovery. We connect individuals to trauma-informed practitioners to ensure you get the care you need.

No parent asked for this journey through birth trauma, PTSD, and its life-altering consequences, including postpartum depression, and anxiety. And no care provider wants their clients to suffer the after effects of trauma or to lose a client to postpartum suicide. There are scientifically sound strategies to change the course of this pandemic and we're here to help. We offer parents, physicians, therapists, nurses, midwives, doulas, and loved ones a comprehensive education on the causes and effects of birth trauma and equip them with the information and skills that are needed to address this crisis. The time is now to learn and use the right tools to ensure all babies arrive with dignity and respect and more parents emerge from their baby's birth whole, cared-for, and prepared for the journey ahead.

Trauma in healthcare professionals

Secondary or vicarious trauma is the result of working with clients who are dealing with trauma or from witnessing traumatic births. Over 1/3 of midwives and nurses have symptoms of secondary trauma, with high rates of PTSD, compassion fatigue, and burnout. About half of all doulas are dealing with vicarious trauma and burnout. In this research-based session, you'll learn about the causes of birth trauma, the factors that increase the likelihood of experiencing secondary trauma or burnout, and proven strategies for prevention, building resilience, and recovering from trauma.

What is birth trauma?

Birth  trauma used to mean a traumatic injury to the baby due to the birth and how it happened. Today, birth trauma refers to the after-effects of a traumatic perinatal experience for the mother, meaning traumatic events any time during the pregnancy, the birth, or the postpartum period, including breastfeeding. Those with birth trauma will have some of the symptoms of trauma and may even have all the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. In this session you will learn what birth trauma is and how it affects the sufferer and their loved ones and will gain an understanding of the effects of trauma in yourself, your loved ones, or your clients.

Healing from birth trauma: food that helps

The effects of trauma include changes to the structure and function of parts of the brain. In essence, trauma and PTSD is a brain injury. Trauma-specific therapy can help in processing the experience and in storing memories in such a way that they no longer trigger the symptoms of trauma. And fortunately, the brain is also plastic, meaning changeable, and has the ability to adapt and recover. In this session you'll learn which nutrients are neuro-protective and which foods can make a difference in your recovery. This takes a research-based approach so that you can feel confident in your choices to help heal a trauma-injured brain.

Trauma Informed Care - for Clinicians

The most significant factor in whether a perinatal experience is perceived as traumatic or not is the quality of the interactions between the client and the care team. A trauma-informed approach employs a set of skills that prioritises the physical, psychological, emotional, cultural, and spiritual safety of both the client and the clinician. A trauma-informed approach is a set of behaviours that builds resilience in the client and the clinician, that improves clinical accuracy, and improves outcomes where the client takes increasing ownership in their own well-being. This evidence-based workshop equips care providers, physicians, nurses, and midwives, with the knowledge, understanding, and skills to employ proven strategies that reduce the potential for a traumatic outcome in their clients and themselves. 

Trauma Informed Care - for Doulas

Doulas improve pregnancy, birth, and postpartum outcomes for mothers and babies. It's not hard to understand that someone with trauma in their history is more likely to engage the services of a doula. Someone with a history of childhood, medical, sexual, or birth trauma needs a knowledgeable companion to help them navigate the challenges of birthing after trauma. A doula not only serves as a source of information and comfort, but also as an advocate, a community resource for identifying options and locating services, and as an aid in developing new health and parenting skills. Doulas meet with clients outside of a clinical setting and can be an instrumental member of the client's care team. This session is specific to doulas to equip them in trauma-informed skills to meet the needs of their clients.

Birthing after Trauma - A Parent's Guide

It doesn't matter what the source of your trauma is. What matters is that you have been changed by it. You see the world through a different lens where you no longer have the same sense of safety others enjoy. Choosing to have a baby when life lacks that comfortable sense of safety and ease requires a different kind of planning. Going with the flow leaves you vulnerable to the agenda of others. In this session, you'll learn more about the effects of trauma, including the role "triggers" play in your symptoms, and in your decision-making process. You'll learn more about the physiology of birth and why your choices matter. There are more options available than doing what you did before or what others are doing. You'll finish this session with the information to choose what is best for you and your baby.

also available

Consultations

Consultations are available for care providers, clinics, schools, training programmes, and birthing units to help evaluate and assess the educational and skills gaps regarding knowledge and practice of trauma-informed skills.


Individual sessions are available for physicians, nurses, midwives, and doulas to foster professional growth and development in trauma-informed skills.


Private consultations are available for parents and loved ones to better understand trauma, its effects, and options for recovery. Those who are planning a pregnancy after a traumatic birth experience will find helpful strategies for improving well-being and for creating a supportive birth experience for themselves and their baby.


Contact us for more information.

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Office desk with plant and planner

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Our Partners

Billie Harrigan Perinatal Consulting & Education
Kaitlin Lindquist Counselling