Around one-third of women say that giving birth was traumatic for them. The consequences of such psychological trauma can be very deep and extensive, from hopelessness and lack of self-esteem to being at risk for poor physical and mental health. For many of them, having a person who gives unconditional love and care can make this experience much easier.
Sadly, this new mom did not receive the much-needed support and had to listen to her husband tell countless jokes about the birth of their newborn daughter, an experience she described as the most painful and difficult time of her life.
In a sincere post on the AITA subreddit, the 25-year-old woman shared how she had to live through his mocking over something that happened during birth (even after she specifically asked him not to). Yet, the man made a joke about it on New Year’s Eve in front of his whole family and the woman was too angry to hold her tongue. Read on for the full story.
A new mom has released her anger after her husband made fun of something that happened during the traumatic birth of their newborn daughter
Image credits: Parentingupstream (not the actual photo)
Here’s the woman’s full story
Image credits: No-Care3049
The author ended her post asking people if she overreacted, and turned to the AITA community for advice. The thread quickly went viral, receiving 23.9K upvotes and more than 4.1K comments. The majority of redditors were firmly on her side of the argument. They showed support by saying that her husband’s joke was “cruel and immature” and that he was insensitive for acting this way.
Bored Panda reached out to The Birth Trauma Association (BTA), a charity in the UK that supports women who suffer from traumatic experiences while giving birth. Their representative was kind enough to discuss with us what kind of impact such events have on our emotional well-being and what we can do to recover from it.
According to them, birth trauma is a shorthand term for postnatal post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). For some women the experience of birth is so traumatizing that they develop this condition which is “characterized by flashbacks and nightmares; extreme anxiety and sensitivity towards triggers (e.g. programs about birth); and avoidance of anything that reminds them of the trauma.”
“At the BTA, we tend to use it a bit more broadly to cover women who might not have a full-blown diagnosis of PTSD but still experience psychological distress,” the spokesperson mentioned.
Too often, such traumatic experiences can be devastating: “Women can become obsessively anxious about their baby, refusing to let anyone hold it, or standing over their baby while it’s asleep to make sure it hasn’t died.” Also, they might find it difficult to bond with their baby and can damage the relationship with their significant other.
“Because the trauma tends to replay obsessively in their head, sufferers tend to become irritable and jumpy and their relationship with their partner can suffer. This is particularly the case if the partner is unsympathetic or tells them to ‘move on’,” they explained.
Fortunately, there are ways to recover. The representative of the BTA told us that there are two very effective treatments: “One is trauma-focused CBT [Cognitive Behavioral Therapy], and the other is eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). Both are intensive therapies that involve reliving the trauma and require 8-12 sessions with a therapist. But they can be remarkably effective.”
If you feel that you are suffering from birth trauma and it’s keeping you from living a normal life, BTA recommended going to your GP or health visitor to ask for a referral to trauma-focused CBT or EMDR. However, “If you feel you would just like to talk it over with others in the same situation, then do feel free to join our Facebook group or email one of our peer supporters.”
They added: “Women often find that their close family and friends don’t really understand the impact of trauma, so it can really help to talk to people who understand what you’ve been through.”
“Women often feel guilt, both at having had a traumatic birth and being unable to recover from it,” and having people around telling them to “be grateful that your baby is healthy” can only make things worse.
“Psychological trauma isn’t something you can move on from by an act of self-will,” they continued. “PTSD is caused by the traumatic experience becoming lodged in short-term memory so that you constantly relive it through no fault of your own. Therapy helps to move it into long-term memory where it belongs.”
The representative of the BTA advised you to always seek help if you find yourself in a similar situation. “And if you live with someone who has birth trauma, don’t tell them that they need to get over it. Listen sympathetically and encourage them to have therapy.”
The AITA community were very supportive and rushed to the author’s defense