I was recently privileged to attend a Birth Trauma Conference in Barnsley in which families talked openly about their experiences.
I arrived not quite knowing what I would be listening to and anticipated it would be mainly doctors and nurses discussing various recent scenarios in which sub-standard care was suggested to have been provided.
I was wrong, it was not like any other conference I have attended, and whilst I was saddened to hear the stories from families, I also felt enlightened to see the courage and bravery of those people speaking because they wanted to raise awareness and let others know that they are not alone.
As we all know it is not easy to talk about something so personal and private, but families talked openly about their experiences.
One woman who had been left incontinent, unable to have sexual intercourse or lift her new-born son spoke about the traumatic birth of her son and how she had not been adequately informed about the risks of a forceps delivery.
This meant she agreed to a procedure that led to her suffering a severe rupturing of her pelvic floor muscles.
A father spoke about how his partner’s miscarriage affected him, how she went on to conceive a second child and that those nine months were the most anxious of his life, taking over him day to day.
A grandmother spoke of being present at the stillbirth of her grandson and how this has changed her and her family’s lives forever.
Some of the recollections were of the physical trauma that had occurred and some people talked about the psychological impact of birth trauma, including the disabling anxiety that some families can be left with.
Each birth experience is different, making tailored support a must when something goes wrong
What was really clear to me during this conference was how individual a person’s birth experience is, how time can stand still within the delivery room and how the most ‘off the cuff’ comments made by a professional can affect the thoughts of that expectant mother and that of their birthing partners.
Not all trauma is caused by negligence and in my job I am used to working to identify the cause of medical issue and investigating if something has gone wrong.
Of course, negligence is also not always the cause of trauma. For me, it was confirmation that there are people speaking out to let others know that they are not alone and that there are services out there to help those who are suffering and need to talk.
Every person I met and chatted with throughout the conference talked about how difficult it was to speak out, but how much better they felt once they had.
The conference was brought together by Huddersfield based therapists specialising in birth trauma.
They both offering support to families who have been through their own birth traumas.
Knowing that such specialist therapy providers are out there was really encouraging and I know they would be of great help to some of my clients.
As such I looked in to what was available in my local area of Hull and was pleased to learn that House of Light, a local organisation, offers specialise post-natal therapy for families. http://www.pndsupport.co.uk/.
Nationally, there is the Birth Trauma Association who also offer support for those who have experienced a birth trauma. https://www.birthtraumaassociation.org.uk/