Birth Trauma Awareness Week from Sunday 17 to Sunday 24 July
This Sunday, Birth Trauma Awareness Week launches across Australia, shedding light on birth-related trauma, its impact on birthing women, support partners, families and health professionals, and providing insights into how our health care system can do better when it comes to birth, recovery and support.
An alarming 1 in 3 women suffer from birth-related trauma in Australia, with 1 in 4 first-time mothers also sustaining long-term physical injuries from childbirth, and 1 in 10 support partners affected by postnatal depression.
Australasian Birth Trauma Association (ABTA) Founder Amy Dawes said birth-related trauma is still taboo and as a result not enough people are getting the support they require.
“Birth-related trauma is alarmingly common and represents a significant public health issue. Even a seemingly good birth can be traumatic for the mother or parent experiencing it; you can be traumatised by very fast labours, prolonged, painful labours, or emergency interventions like instrumental deliveries or caesareans,” Ms Dawes said.
“Women who’ve had traumatic births are often reluctant to speak up and seek help. There is a strong narrative in our culture that all that matters is a healthy baby, and that mums should just suck it up and be grateful. This attitude is counterproductive because healthy babies and families need healthy, happy mums.
“Birth-related trauma can present as physical and/or psychological trauma and is not limited to only affecting people giving birth; it can also affect support partners and health professionals, and unfortunately it’s still something that is not being talked about enough and not enough support is being offered.”
Physical birth trauma can present as perineal tears, pelvic floor muscle damage, pelvic organ prolapse (POP), pelvic fractures (pubic bone, coccyx, sacrum) or caesarean wounds. Whereas psychological birth trauma can present as postnatal depression or anxiety (PNDA), postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and more.
The ABTA was launched by Amy Dawes in 2017, after the birth of her first child, a forceps delivery, led to a third degree tear and pelvic floor muscle injury, resulting in prolapse which significantly affected her mental health. Amy’s vision is to break down the stigma attached to birth trauma, and empower people to feel comfortable speaking out.
The organisation delivers national support services for women, birthing people and their families, peer-led support groups, events, access to health professionals and notably unbiased, evidence-based educational resources on topics that are often excluded or underrepresented in antenatal education.
During Birth Trauma Awareness Week, the ABTA will be hosting a series of online Q&A’s with medical and health professionals including women’s health physio, obstetrician, midwife, urogynecologist and clinical psychologist.
The ABTA will also be releasing its Birth Injuries: The Hidden Epidemic Report, which will provide insights into the impact of physical birth injuries on the physical and mental health of birthing people, in hope of filling in the gaps that currently exist when it comes to reporting outcomes of births.
Ms Dawes said the aim of Birth Trauma Awareness Week and their organisation is to empower people with the knowledge they need to have safer births and better healing.
“We want to let mums, birthing people and families who are suffering know that birth-related trauma is real, your feelings are valid and support is available. We encourage women and support partners to reach out to us to find out more about birth-related trauma, or reach out to their healthcare provider. There is no shame in seeking help.”
National Birth Trauma Awareness Week takes place from 17 – 24 July, and culminates in a fundraising Walk n Support event on Sunday 24 July in most states.
At 11am on Sunday 24 July, the annual fundraising Walk n Support events, organised by ABTA, will see hundreds of women, families and health professionals gather across the country, including Brisbane, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and Wagga Wagga to support women, partners, families and health care providers who have experienced birth-related trauma.
The Walk n Support events are a great opportunity to connect with other people who have experienced birth-related trauma, show support, get support and share your own birth story with others, because every story matters. If people are unable to make organised events, they can still participate, fundraise and walk wherever they are located.
Registrations are still open for next Sunday’s organised Walk n Support events – https://fundraise.birthtrauma.org.au/event/walkntalk/home
You can donate to the Australasian Birth Trauma Association and help them continue to deliver birth-trauma related programs here – https://birthtrauma.org.au/donate/
You can share your story by using hashtags #BTAW2022 #TreatBirthTrauma #saferbirthsbetterhealing or by getting in touch with ABTA.
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