Presentation Information

Billie Harrigan

Maternal Experience of Helplessness as a Precipitator for Traumatic Birth: Recognition & Strategies to Mitigate Helplessness and Avoid Trauma

  • Speaker: Billie Harrigan , BA TBA CD CBC
  • Presentation Type:
  • Duration: 60 Mins
  • Credits: 1 CERP, 1 Nursing CEU, 1 CME, 0.1 Midwifery CEU

Throughout the world, about one-third of birthing women describe their births as “traumatic”. A significant number of these mothers will enter parenthood with symptoms of trauma, including intrusive memories, avoidance, hypervigilance, and health problems. Some will meet all the criteria for post-traumatic stress. This can impact bonding with the baby, breastfeeding, maternal mental health, physical health, dynamics within the family, and increases the potential for adverse experiences and future health concerns for the child. A traumatic experience also impacts her future birthing choices and experiences. Research identifies negative interactions with health care providers, particularly where the mother feels a sense of helplessness, as the most significant risk for a traumatic experience. This presentation examines the experiences of women to identify the key aspects of delivery-of-care that promotes a sense of helplessness. Understanding how routine elements of care can be perceived as disempowering will equip participants to implement significant changes in how care is delivered to reduce the potential for a traumatic experience for the mother.