Birthing and Being Birthed: Exploring How the Experience of Birth Trauma Impacts Birthing People in Their Postpartum Lives
Murphy, Sandra Fay
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Birth trauma is experienced by up to 30% of childbearing people and has negative health consequences. Further, birth trauma is poorly understood by healthcare providers and childbearing people’s embodied experiences of trauma are ignored or made light of, contributing to further harm. This research utilized feminist phenomenology to explore the impact of birth trauma in childbearing people’s postpartum lives. Three themes were discovered: Continuously Processing, Searching for Answers in Others, and Experiences as a Body in the Healthcare System. Birthing parents felt that their trauma began in prenatal care, was perpetuated during birthing, and ignored postpartum. Mental health care was invisible and interactions with healthcare providers were, overall, ineffective and contributed further to birthing parents’ embodied trauma. This research brought forth findings for how childbearing people can be better supported during childbearing including recommendations for resolving embodied trauma and strengthening the healthcare system in terms of mental health support.
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