This week (Monday 19th July to Saturday 24th July) is Birth Trauma Awareness Week 2021 in the UK. This is an annual awareness week organised by the Birth Trauma Association (BTA) to highlight the effects that a traumatic birth can have on women, their partners, and their babies. Last year’s event was held in September 2020 – later than usual due to the effects of the pandemic. Each year the event follows a specific theme and it’s appropriate that this year’s theme is one of re-connection.
What is a Birth Trauma?
Many things can cause a woman to feel her birth was traumatic including a short labour, a long labour, pain, a perceived medical emergency, a physical trauma, to feeling they were not heard or listened to or being treated unkindly. A feeling of loss of control can have a profound effect on families and can compound the trauma that they have experienced.
Around 30,000 mothers a year experience birth trauma in the UK each year. Whilst this is a small minority of all the births in the UK, the effects can be long-lasting and can include very severe conditions such as PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Even without the restrictions such as those we have experienced during the pandemic, women can feel very isolated and alone after a traumatic birth.
A birth trauma can affect the relationship a woman has with her baby, as well as with her partner, relatives and friends. These relationships are crucial to both mother and baby and especially so in the months immediately after the birth. It can be extremely hard to recognise what has happened as trauma and be able to communicate how they feel. It is so important to raise awareness in order to recognise when a birth is traumatic and to seek help to support a woman and her family.
What are the aims of Birth Trauma Awareness Week
Through running this awareness week, the BTA hopes to help women suffering from birth trauma to understand and recognise their experience and realise that they are not alone and that it is normal for them to struggle to get back to normality after a traumatic birth. They also aim to help those women access much needed support from those around them. That, coupled with the recent effects of the pandemic has led them to this year’s theme of ‘reconnection’. In the coming months, we hope to see the restrictions from the pandemic continue to wind down, meaning that mothers can reconnect with family and friends to build their support network and discuss their experience of birth and parenthood more openly, with those that they trust.
The BTA released this video as part of their 2018 campaign, in which women explain their real-life experiences of birth trauma and how it has affected them:
Having worked with many women and families affected by birth trauma, we welcome this initiative and hope it brings them the advice, comfort and support that they need.
If you have been affected by birth trauma and would like confidential legal advice, call us on 0800 138 0458 or contact us through the website.