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How you can Help Your Spouse Cope with the Trauma of Childbirth

Paul Banas
Author Paul Banas
Submitted 17-11-2006

The process of becoming a mother involves a certain amount of psychological strain for a pregnant woman. In fact, for some women, childbirth can be as traumatic as life-threatening events such as a natural disaster or a war. During pregnancy, it is important for the to-be mother’s family members and close ones to support her as required.

During childbirth, women are likely to experience a range of emotions, which may include:

  • Guilt

  • Anxiety and fear that can manifest as intense flashbacks and nightmares

  • Helplessness or a feeling of loss of control or feeling incomplete

  • Severe depression

  • Anger, irritability

  • Obsessive talking about their traumatic experiences

  • Ambivalent feelings toward the baby

  • Hyper-vigilance and hyper-sensitivity to any perceived injustice

  • Other symptoms such as drug and alcohol abuse, phobias, fainting spells, eating disorders, suicidal tendencies

  • It should be noted that such responses are natural reactions to a scary event, and are not signs of weakness. However, husbands can provide the necessary support to enable their spouses to cope with birth trauma.

During and before childbirth

  • Medical care – Ensure that your spouse gets all the medical care she requires. Inform her about the available choices. Involve her in the decision-making process.

  • Pain relief – Women experience intense physical and mental pain during childbirth. Use tried and tested techniques that aim to reduce this pain. For example, massages, baths, relaxation techniques may help.

  • Emotional support – Often, women complain that people around them dismiss their problems. Sometimes, simply listening to your spouse may act as a solution. Remember that your spouse requires all the emotional support you can give her.

  • Additional support – Counseling, antenatal classes, support organizations for birth trauma, etc. can really help.

After childbirth

  • Providing care – After childbirth, adequate nutrition, exercise are necessary to ensure that your spouse is healthy.

  • Sharing responsibility – Taking care of the newborn can be a difficult and tiring task. For some women, the child can be a reminder of their traumatic experiences. Your spouse needs some time away from her baby. Ensure that you or responsible family members are available to take care of the baby for at least some time.

  • Counseling – Contact a health professional immediately if your spouse develops symptoms of a traumatic birth.