Childbirth is a very personal and sexual event, and as such should be respected based on the woman’s freedom of choice. For many women this is not the case. Research shows that one in twenty new mothers is diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after childbirth. Many others suffer from it but feel that doctors will not be able to help them, so they either do not tell their family doctor or seek help from another doctor but never get a diagnosis, or they are mistakenly diagnosed with depression.
Immediately after delivery they are in shock, relieved that their ordeal is over. They may even be elated and thank the obstetrician who, they are told, has saved their baby from disaster. But after a few weeks, this is followed by inner turmoil, with flashbacks, nightmares and panic attacks. Many women avoid getting pregnant again because they can’t face going through the same ordeal again. The panic subsides over time and they think they have accepted the experience. They start another pregnancy and, after a few months, it all suddenly returns and they find themselves in a state of terror. The next delivery may be only a few weeks away. Why is childbirth traumatic? It’s not just a matter of physical pain. Women are traumatized because they are treated like machines that are at constant risk of breaking down. They are traumatized because they feel they are being sucked into a medical system that deprives them of any control over what is happening to them.