09 November 2008

birth trauma's impact on breastfeeding

A recent study backs up what we already knew...traumatic birth can impact breastfeeding...read whole release at the link or some portions below:

STORRS, CT — Up to a third of all new mothers report suffering through a traumatic child birth.

For some – believed to be up to 9 percent – the birth is such a traumatic event that they experience posttraumatic stress disorder, the same debilitating disorder that scars the lives of combat veterans and victims of rape and other violent crimes.

...Her results showed that the impact of birth trauma can lead new mothers down two strikingly different paths with regard to breastfeeding.

For some, the trauma propels them into persevering in breastfeeding to prove their “success” as a mother and perhaps to make up to their infant for the difficult birth.

...Yet for others, birth trauma sets in motion a chain of events – intrusive flashbacks, detachment from their child, and physical pain – that can curtail their attempts to breastfeed.

...Beck concludes that intensive one-on-one support for traumatized mothers may be necessary to help them establish breastfeeding. Sensitivity and awareness by medical professionals of the traumatized mother’s needs may also be helpful.

During the postpartum period, it is suggested that healthcare providers be attentive to the symptoms that may indicate a new mother is traumatized, such as being withdrawn, having a dazed look, or suffering temporary amnesia.

Beck’s latest research study: “Impact of Birth Trauma on Breastfeeding – A Tale of Two Pathways,” which appears in the July/August 2008 issue of Nursing Research, was co-authored by Sue Watson, chairperson of the Trauma and Birth Stress charitable trust.


Elizabeth Gallo said...

interesting! i'm pretty sure the only person who understood how traumatic my first birth was was my doula! most others just said something about how i should be grateful for my beautiful baby -- as if the two emotions were mutually exclusive --

DoulaMomma said...


yes - nothing like telling a traumatized person that they are also ungrateful - so not helpful