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.
During my pregnancy I had perinatal anxiety. I struggled to do everyday tasks. I was supported through my hospital team with their special maternity services, psychologist and psychiatrist. At 30 weeks I developed hypertension and spent many nights in hospital trying to manage my blood pressure. At 32 weeks I was told that I would be transferred to another hospital for an emergency c-section for pre-eclampsia. However, two hours later the plan had been changed to keep me at the same hospital and monitor. Daily hospital appointments would follow until 35 weeks where it was decided I needed to be induced. At 36 weeks I was brought in to commence induction. Then my daughter became distressed and I had a grade 3B tear, leaving me with muscle missing in my pelvic floor. I also suffered from postnatal anxiety with my daughter, especially over her sleep. My second pregnancy I had gestational diabetes, however my son decided he would come on his own terms at 34 weeks. I had an emergency c section. After his birth I suffered a rectal prolapse. Further a few weeks later I had uterine prolapse and significant worsening of my bladder prolapse. I had significant separation after his birth and I also had my anal fissure return but thankfully I was able to manage this better given my previous experience. Both of my birth experiences are very different and have left me with both physical and emotional scares. However, the first birth of my daughter left me with the ability to advocate for myself much more when my son was born.
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.
Hi I am Maria. In 2017 I had an emergency c-section with my second daughter. It followed an induction at 36 weeks, and 10 hour labour. Up to that point everything was ok, but when I could not hold her after the surgery and she was taken to NICU for 3 days I started to find things difficult. I woke one night in hospital and she had been taken for tests. It was this moment I believe my Postpartum PTSD developed form. I suffered flashbacks, nightmares, aggression and anxiety for the first year of her life.
I volunteer with the ABTA as a mentor to help others that have been through something similar. I want you to know you are not alone and I am here to listen.
My name is Tara and I experienced physical and psychological trauma during the birth of my little girl.
I had a failed home birth which resulted in a hospital transfer. I experienced prolonged labour lasting 26 hours. I arrived to hospital with an infection, fever, and a swollen cervix. After many complications and interventions, my daughter was born via forceps delivery. Shortly after I experienced a post partum haemorrhage of 1.5 litres and a retained placenta which was removed manually in theatre. We were in hospital for 5 days and my baby was separated from me in the special care unit for the first 4 days.
I struggled to cope with raising a newborn and managing my trauma during lockdown. I felt incredibly lonely without any family, as I’m from the United States. Shortly after the birth I was diagnosed with levator ani avulsion and pelvic organ prolapse. The diagnosis devastated me and it was the darkest period of my life.
Despite being educated about the cascade of interventions and working so hard to prepare for a natural birth, my birth went nothing like I planned. I blamed myself for a long time, wondering if I did something wrong. I’m here to remind those who have experienced a traumatic birth that it is not your fault.
I’m very happy to join ABTA and hope to be a supportive and safe place for others who may be feeling alone in their trauma.
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.
My first birth was an induction as I was overdue and exhausted. My induction took 3 lots of gel over 3 days which led to a very intense active labour. As things were apparently not progressing I consented for a c-section. The preparation took hours. Once I was in the operating room I was 10cm dilated. I pushed for 2 hours and they brought out the vacuum to move things along. I ended up suffering a fourth degree tear, repaired under anaesthetic, which has resulted in ongoing incontinence, a fistula, PTSD, depression and anxiety. My second birth I opted for a planned c-section. I went into labour, laboured until fully dilated as there were other emergencies ahead of mine and went on to have a c-section. I was put under to be stitched. Some of the moments here played out very similar to my first birth yet still felt completely different. I mentor because I want to be there for women at their hardest moments so they know they are not alone.
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.
I birthed my son in 2018 and I don’t think anyone could have prepared me for it. I did all the classes and read the books, when it came down to it I completely lost control during his birth and panicked. He had shoulder dystocia and need support to come out, thankfully he was ok but I was left with significant tearing and needed 16 stitches and a bruised coccyx as he came down the birth canal too fast. I also had a significant bleed and haemorrhaged over a litre of blood after he was delivered. This resulted in PNDA. My daughter’s birth in 2021 was extremely healing however I had severe PNA during my entire pregnancy terrified I would lose her. My daughter’s birth was textbook until my placenta got stuck and they had to manually remove it – an experience I will never forget and took a while for me to mentally and physically heal from.
I look forward to supporting you through your journey. Always remember you are never alone.
Difficult pregnancies with hyper-gravidarium, gestational diabetes, 1/5 chance of Trisomy 21 resulting in consent to Amniocentesis (all normal), diagnosed prenatal depression. My first birth was a whole cascade of interventions. PROM, irregular contractions, early admission to hospital. Baby was posterior, very long and slow labour, augmented, got to 6 cm with intense back pain, consented to epidural, foggy with exhaustion requested caesarean. Second baby got told by OB that I ‘probably’ couldn’t birth vaginally anyway, may as well go with a caesarean, and third was told ‘two caesareans mean that you cannot ever vaginal birth again’. Heaps of problems postnatally breastfeeding, postnatal depression and anxiety, slow recoveries.
My name is Vesna and I am a mum of 2 boys. My first birthing experience was in 2016, I was induced at 40.5 weeks & gave birth vaginally, I experienced an episiotomy, a uterine inversion & PPH. Whilst I received the appropriate care to recover from my physical injuries, I didn’t receive the appropriate psychological & emotional support following my experience.
In 2018 I gave birth to my second boy via c-section & whilst I had a much better birth experience, my son was diagnosed with a pyloric stenosis at 2 weeks old where he required emergency surgery. Thorough the pressures of motherhood & navigating my own health issues, I slowly began to realise that I needed more support, support that I wish I had received earlier, because the depth of what I was experiencing was so much more than what comes with just being a mum. Whilst the road has definitely come with its challenges, I have gained so much from the experiences I have had, I feel more resilient & attuned to my inner environment that enables me to move through challenges with a bit more compassion & ease.
We had both of our babies overseas with little understanding of the medical system, and faced challenges in dealing with health professionals in another language and with differing cultural beliefs. With our first baby, I had pneumonia and my waters broke at 38 weeks; after 4 hours of intense labour, being pressured into having a spinal anesthesia that didn’t work and an episiotomy which I didn’t consent to, our baby was immediately taken away after birth and in NICU for a week. I also received no support with breastfeeding, and we struggled without family or other networks to turn to for help with our newborn. My physical recovery from the fast birth and healing the emotional trauma of being separated from our baby took a long time. For our next birth, we had more support and I felt in control of my body and my choices, which meant that the experience was extremely positive. Now I with women to help them with their birth journey.
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.