Postpartum PTSD & The Concept of Mental Defeat

I don’t get to do stories on postpartum PTSD as often as I’d like, so I was thrilled when Kimmelin Hull reached out to me today about a piece appearing on Lamaze International’s Science & Sensibility blog. It’s entitled “Pain, Suffering and Trauma in Labor and Subsequent Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder“. Author Penny Simkin goes into great detail about postpartum PTSD, including risk factors and symptoms.

One concept in her piece really stood out to me. It was the idea of “mental defeat” during childbirth … “that is they gave up, feeling overwhelmed, hopeless and as if they couldn’t go on”. That was me. Though I didn’t have postpartum PTSD, I do think (at least as far as my perception is concerned) that my childbirth experience was traumatic. I labored endlessly, had an epidural that only worked on one side, and pushed for four hours. They kept telling me my son was going to come out if I just pushed a little more. So I’d push a little more and he didn’t. They’d leave and come back again and do the same thing, except no matter what I did I couldn’t deliver him. After four hours of pushing I was spent. I had nothing left. I could hardly see straight. They finally dragged him out of me with forceps. And that was just the start of my new motherhood experience. I completely identify with the idea of mental defeat. I experienced it.

I encourage you to go read Penny’s piece. Part 2 will be posted next week.