My first birth was a traumatic c-section after 72 hours of labour. In hindsight, I was just uninformed and made “wrong” decision after wrong decision. I desperately wanted a vaginal birth and didn’t feel heard or seen throughout the whole process.
During my second pregnancy I fell into antenatal depression and anxiety, fearing that it would happen again. This time I was informed, hired a doula and had a painfree vaginal birth. However my son was in NICU for the first 2 weeks of his life.
After processing my experience I feel ready to help others with theirs.
I am a wife and mum to three young children, primary school teacher and postnatal fitness instructor.
My first born was delivered via emergency caesarean due to a Frank Breech presentation and spontaneous labour.
My second birth was a successful VBAC, although I suffered physical and emotional trauma as a result of a 4th degree tear, post-partum haemorrhage and 3 hours of emergency surgery.
My third birth was a very healing elective caesarean.
I have suffered several early miscarriages, including a missed miscarriage and a ruptured ectopic pregnancy during my third child’s pregnancy (loss of twin).
I am dedicated to supporting postnatal mothers in their physical and emotional journey to recovery.
My name is Lauren Hayward and I have a 5 year old son Jack and a 5 month old daughter Lily, I suffered terribly during both my pregnancies, especially the last one. I had hyperemesis, placenta previa with a haemorrhage, gestational diabetes, preemie baby in special care and a lot more. I still suffer from physical and mental issues relating to the pregnancies and I joined ABTA to be able to share my story and to hopefully be able to help someone else.
I had a very challenging experience with the birth of my son 5 years ago. I was 27, the first in my generation to have a child and I needed to get induced (5 days overdue). I come from a line of strong Mediterranean women who have all given birth vaginally with limited pain relief, so the pressure to follow suit was daunting and added a mental and emotional strain on top of the challenges that were to come in my labour. The process of induction and the hormone drip was excruciating, and no one prepared me or my support (husband and mother) for the distress that it brought on to all of us in the delivery room. The pain was something else, I can’t even describe it, and at times I felt like I was drifting in and out of consciousness. I was in such a state, screaming, desperately wanting the pain to stop, to the point that my mother had to be taken out of the room as she was about to faint from my trauma. I was 5cm dilated and feeling delirious, and at that point I begged for an epidural. After it started to take effect, I managed to catch a break, but after trying to push for 10-15minutes my obstetrician advised that my boy was not turning into my birth canal and I needed to go into surgery to try other options, and potentially an emergency caesarean if nothing else worked. I was so scared as I was not mentally prepared for major surgery, even though my obstetrician advised me to be open to the chance for it, and I remember looking at my husband and feeling absolutely defeated and that I couldn’t live up to my family’s standards. I ended up having an emergency caesarean as my son was experiencing deep transverse arrest and it wasn’t possible to deliver him vaginally with forceps or a vacuum. With what was meant to be a wonderful moment to meet my son for the first time, I felt like a failure – I couldn’t take the pain, I couldn’t deliver him “naturally”. I feel this disappointment also impacted my physical recovery time, along with the pressure to get better sooner to look after my newborn. This led me into post-natal depression which extended into my relationships. The path to recovery was hard. I needed individual and couples counselling to come to terms with the experience and to help repair my now strained relationship with my husband as the stress and trauma pushed us both to our limits.
Hello! I am Steph & back in 2016 I gave birth to my first son. The labour was less than 1 hour total, and he arrived quite quickly. However due to the quick delivery I suffered a lot of trauma both mentally and physically. I ended up suffering from quite a large haematoma, and was not listened to by hospital staff until I started getting up to walk, I ended up collapsing on the floor and was unconscious for over half an hour due to significant blood loss. I had surgery and was in the critical care unit for 48 hours, during that time I did not see my son, and was hand expressed by nurses so my husband could feed our son. I believe I have since recovered, and in 2020 I went on to have my second child (induced!) with no issues. However went through the birth during covid. So had quite limited support during that time!
Looking forward to chatting!
Paree is a mum of two young kids. She experienced a traumatic first birth which left her with severe incontinence – the cause of which remains undiagnosed. Paree had a retained placenta which had to be removed manually, poor stitching of a second degree tear which had to be surgically fixed months later and a baby who spent time in the NICU for a brief period. Having experienced a lack of care and empathy, Paree sought to repair wounds both physical and psychological to go on to birth again in a more supportive environment and with a greater understanding of the complexities of child birth. Her reason for joining ABTA is to support women who feel unheard and unseen, and to normalise the often negative aspects of childbirth.
Anna experienced infant loss when her 3rd baby died. She felt mislead and as though she was not given complete information about the risks involved with a home birth. She started to speak out about this and found she was treated poorly by the homebirth community. After the birth of her 4th baby she experienced post partum anxiety/depression caused in some part by the pressure to breastfeed. Anna would like to support others that have had a similar experience.
Jamie is a fitness professional, nutrition therapist and Mum of one. Her birth story involved a drug free 24 hr labour with a vacuum and episiotomy. Post partum she experienced a major hemorrhage and large amount of retained placenta. This resulted in 3 nights 4 days away from baby, a blood and iron infusion as well as surgery for placenta removal. In addition, her husband was also unexpectedly incapacitated due to major pancreatic tumor removal. Her baby therefore started in neonatal care.
Feeling completely powerless and with a lack of support, Jamie utilised psychology services, support networks such as ABTA as well as nutrition and exercise to overcome challenges and negative feelings associated with her birth trauma. She aims to assist others in feeling supported, understood and less alone in their journey with birth trauma and is currently completing her specialty qualification in personal training pregnant and postnatal women.
I experienced birth related trauma in May 2019. I was admitted to the maternity ward with preeclampsia at 40 weeks. My water broke during the night and labour started. I was all alone (husband at home and no medical staff with me) until I finally reached out for assistance. I got transferred to the birthing suite, my husband and midwife arrived, and shortly after had foetal distress and a manual head rotation. Due to the urgency of the situation, there was no time for a c-section, thus a forceps delivery resulting in severe injury. Labour lasted only 4 hours. A few hours after birth my baby was diagnosed with hypothermia and hypoglycemia. After 2 days in the SCN my baby got transferred to another hospital with NICU and discharged after 1 week. My physical and psychological recovery journey was very long, but I found peer support to be very valuable in my healing. I really want parents and carers to know that they don’t have to be on this journey alone.
Meet Lisa S
I sustained a 4th degree tear after the birth of my first baby. At 6 weeks post-partum I had developed a rectal abscess that ruptured and created a perianal fistula. This led to multiple hospital trips and months of excruciating pain. I felt extremely anxious that my body would never heal, and I would not be able to care for my baby the way I always imagined. I eventually recovered physically and have since had a second baby via c-section which helped as a healing birth experience for me. I hope that by volunteering, I am able to help and give hope to others who have experienced birth trauma.
My name is Kendall, I had a 17 hour labour which ended in a 3b perineal tear. I had general anaesthesia for the repair. I am fortunate that I don’t have any severe physical symptoms as a result. I did however struggle to bond with my daughter afterwards and questioned whether I had done something wrong. I hope to be able to help individuals going through the same emotions as I did. I also want to help raise awareness in the broader community.
Meet Sarah D
I am a mum of three boys and a baby girl. I experienced a very traumatic birth in a hospital for my first son in 2013. It was an instrumental delivery that left me feeling deeply ashamed. I felt as though I was just a number and that no one really cared. My baby boy was born with a heart defect and taken straight from me to NICU. We spent most of our first year in hospital together.
I absolutely knew there had to be another way. I threw myself in to learning everything about birth. My second son was born accidentally at home as I was too scared to go to hospital. My next two births were beautiful planned home births.
My deep desire is help other parents, so that they never feel alone as I did all those years ago.
Meet Lisa H
My name is Lisa and I’m from Newcastle NSW. I’m happily married and my husband and I have three great kids. I had a vaginal birth with a third degree tear repaired in surgery immediately post delivery. Being separated from my baby was very hard and the recovery and physio was long. 2: emergency caesarean after baby was brow presentation and stressed. General anaesthetic so I didn’t meet my baby until hours later. 3: induced attempted VBAC. Vacuum, forceps then ruptured uterus. Passed out, emergency caesarean, baby in nicu. Long recovery.
I’m really excited to be part of the ABTA community
Meet Jade M
At 19 +5 weeks I went in to hospital as something didn’t feel right. I was actually 6cm dilated and had bulging membranes. An ultrasound showed my cervix was too thin. I spent 3 nights on the post natal ward until my water started leaking from a back pocket, mu baby needed to be delivered. Infection set in, so IV antibiotics were given and labour induced with misoprostol. At 20+5 weeks I gave birth to our daughter Kai who lived for 40mins and then passed away. Later on tests come back from the placenta that I had chorioamnionitis infection from the prolonged water opening and it was concluded that I lost my baby to incompetent cervix.
Meet Sarah C
Sarah was induced at 38 weeks with her first child. She experienced a posterior labour, forceps delivery, third-degree tear and post-partum haemorrhage. She met her baby the following day. Her tear became infected and resulted in a fistula. Sarah now understands the importance of seeking help early to deal with physical issues and with processing emotional trauma. Her personal experience of birth trauma has given her greater empathy and a deeper understanding of the repercussions possible following birth.
What is the Peer2Peer Support Program?
The Peer2Peer Support Program is an volunteer led initiative that provides support to those who have experienced birth related trauma. Our support services include 1-on-1 chats via messenger or call back (due to commence in 2022) through appointments or at one of our drop in sessions. Our private Facebook support group, online peer support group sessions, and educational program ‘Meets’. All support services from the ABTA are free. This is the first service in Australia dealing specifically with birth trauma. The service is provided by ABTA peer mentors who have a lived experience of birth trauma, so you will be in contact with someone who has been there and will treat you with kindness, respect and without judgment. We hear time after time from people how important it is for them to simply be heard, treated with respect and to realise they are not alone. This is where a peer support program can have immense positive impact.
WHAT CAN I EXPECT FROM A SESSION WITH A PEER2PEER MENTOR?
Our aim is to offer up to x3 (per 12 months) 1-on-1 chat sessions. The first session is mainly for you to talk about your experience as we have found this is the first step in healing. The follow up sessions are there if you need addition support or resources. These private session are accompanied by our other support services such as online peer support group sessions via zoom and our private Facebook support group, to which there is no limit. We aim to be able to provide support in whatever way works for you.
Our Peer2Peer Mentors are trained by us, but are not trained counsellors and are therefore not able to provide specific advice around diagnosis or treatment, however they can provide a listening ear and supportive shoulder for those navigating life after birth trauma. They may also recommend useful services and resources that other people have found useful.
P2P Mentor webchat drop-in sessions
At ABTA we understand that we all have busy lives. When we do get around to making and appointment something usually comes up and we need to cancel. Or we sometime even just forget. We are all human right?!
That is why ABTA has four weekly drop in session where no appointment is required. Simply click on the speech bubble during one of the session times and there will be a P2P Mentor waiting to chat with you.
All drop in and appointment times are AEST/AEDT
To access the service, simply click on ‘BOOK IN WITH ME’ on the mentor of your choice. You will see the mentors availability allowing you to choose a day and time that suits you. Alternatively visit our website during one of the drop in sessions and click the pop up to connect.
While there is no set time limit for sessions we aim for around 45 minutes. There is a 3 (per year) 1-on-1 session limit. We feel at this point our other support services should be able to give you the ongoing support you need. Our Peer2Peer Mentors may encourage you to seek professional support and will be able to direct you to a more appropriate service provider for professional counselling.
Before accessing the P2P Support Live Chat please read our Terms and Conditions.
If you have a confirmed booking to chat with a mentor, simply click the pop up in the bottom right hand corner of this page and register your first name and email address.
You can then start messaging a Peer2Peer Mentor like you would on Facebook Messenger or via SMS.
If you are trying to contact us and do not have a booking, you will be greeted by our offline message. You are able to leave a message. We are a non-for-profit organisation run mostly by volunteers and therefore will respond to you as soon as possible.
Other options for support
Women are welcome to join our Facebook Group – Australasian Birth Trauma Support to connect with other mothers and ask questions about trauma recovery.
Our Support Services Page contains information on other external support services that may be useful.