by: Dr. Lila Z. Hakim, C.Psych.
The period prior to and during birth can create significant distress for women. Women can experience high degrees of anxiety in the period just prior to the birth of a child, whether or not a low- or high-risk pregnancy is anticipated. Learning how to cope with the distressing thoughts and emotional reactions associated with anxiety may alleviate some of these symptoms.
During the birthing experience, some women will have frightening experiences (e.g., surgical complications, neglect or ill-treatment during or after delivery, or physical trauma as a result of a difficult delivery). Women experiencing traumatic births may feel isolated and dismissed when sharing their fearful or painful experiences. They can feel hopeless about finding others to connect to regarding what has transpired. These types of experiences can result in post-traumatic stress in the form of recurring images, flashbacks, and painful emotional memories of what transpired during their delivery. These reactions to the event need to be processed fully in order to heal.
Finally, the emotional impact of loss of a child during birth can have a devastating impact on both partners. These effects are further complicated by the post-partum physical status of the woman. Dealing with intense grief associated with the loss of a child is a difficult process for both partners. A partner’s view of him/herself, the relationship, and the future may be altered. The loss can also have an impact on emotional and physical closeness and result in relationship deterioration.
Psychologists and clinicians at CFIR are skilled in addressing the post-traumatic stress associated with painful or difficult birthing experiences. We support individuals and couples in coping with the grief associated with the loss of a child. We assist individuals and couples to deal with tragic loss through education, emotional support, and processing of such traumatic experiences. We help you find a way forward during this difficult time.
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