"They said we had run out of time. I do not remember consenting"

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About ABTA

The Australasian Birth Trauma Association (ABTA) is a voluntary organisation established in 2016 to support women and their families who are suffering postnatally from physical and /or psychological trauma resulting from the birth process.

We aim to offer advice and support to woman and their families who are struggling to cope with their childbirth experience. We are also dedicated to researching the effects of psychological and physical trauma while developing best practice for diagnosis and treatment for sufferers.

Along with our colleagues at the Birth Trauma Association in the UK, ABTA has a strong commitment to campaigning for informed consent in childbirth – this must not be confused with campaigning for or against any particular type of birth. We simply believe that women and their partners should be made aware of all the possibilities, and that focus needs to be on discussing what the mother wants rather than ideologies. She should be treated with respect and compassion by health professionals.

What is Birth Trauma

Birth trauma is defined here as including:

  • physically damaging birth processes which can result in life-changing symptoms of pelvic floor problems.
  • psychological problems arising from the circumstances of the delivery (e.g. “wrong” location; pre-term; support people not present) or the process (e.g. labour too quick, prolonged, inadequate pain relief; feeling of loss of control; emergency caesarean section; concerns about  survival of baby or self),
  • an ‘uneventful’ or satisfactory delivery from the professional point of view (mother and baby well; no physical complications), but traumatising for the woman as she feels unsupported or misunderstood by the health professionals.

Who suffers from postpartum PTSD?

Studies indicate that, in the UK, around 10,000 women a year develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Also, as many as 200,000 more women may feel traumatised by childbirth and develop some of the symptoms of PTSD.

Quick Facts about physical trauma

Our research suggests that 10-20% of first-time mothers, between 15000 and 30000 women in Australia per year, may suffer major irreversible physical birth trauma in the form of pelvic floor muscle and/or anal sphincter tears.

Statistically we know that up to 20% of all women who deliver a baby vaginally will end up with surgery for pelvic organ prolapse, anal or urinary incontinence, and yet few talk about such health problems to friends and family or to health professionals.