When Birthdays Bring Fear: Birth Trauma and PTSD

When I first started experiencing PTSD symptoms, I was confused. I thought PTSD only happened to soldiers of war.

When I was finally brave enough to start talking to other preemie moms about what I was experiencing, I discovered that I was not alone. I learned that preemie moms are at risk for delayed onset postpartum depression and PTSD.

Premature birth has a lasting impact on a mother’s heart. Sharing and connecting helps us heal. Our discussions inspired to write an article for You & Me: America’s Medical Magazine. Here’s an excerpt…

“You have to follow them!” I begged my husband, as our son, who weighed barely more than a pound, vanished through the doorway. Doctors and nurses ran beside his incubator, performing CPR on his tiny body on the way to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

If our son died, I did not want him to be alone. If he died, I wanted at least one of his parents to have had the chance to see his face and feel his weight in our arms.

I saw my son, Jaxson, for the first time four hours later. I stared, trying to reconcile what I thought a baby should look like with what I was actually seeing. Wires and tubes hid his face. I saw blood pumping through his translucent skin. His eyes were fused shut. His ears weren’t fully formed.

The neonatologist ushered us into a dingy conference room where the words “4% chance of healthy survival” oozed from his mouth and settled heavy in my heart.

It should have been one of the happiest days of my life. Instead I spent my son’s birthday numb from the fear that he would die.

Read More – When Birthdays Bring Fear: Birth Trauma and PTSD

I’d love to hear what you think of the article! Did you experience PTSD or anxiety after a traumatic birth? Where are you in the healing process?

When Birthdays Bring Fear: Birth Trauma and PTSD

Author: Andrea M

Oh man, what an adventure! I went into labor unexpectedly when I was 23w3d pregnant. Jaxson was born weighing 1 lb 8 oz. A tiny little peanut, but boy was he feisty. He still is! We love it now, but we probably won't when he is a teenager. I write about our journey and all other things that come with it, including a brain tumor. We look forward to "meeting" you - come hang out with us...we're pretty cool.

6 thoughts on “When Birthdays Bring Fear: Birth Trauma and PTSD”

  1. The PTSD is very real. I thought I had neatly tucked away my fear and anxiety, but 10 years, yes y.e.a.r.s., after the traumatic premature birth of my twins, I received a phone call that crippled me and sent me into a full blown paralyzing anxiety attack. My youngest sister was undergoing an emergency c-section at the same hospital, with the same doctors, and the same NICU as my twins. I remember sobbing uncontrollably, my heart was racing, I couldn’t regulate my breathing, I was a complete and utter mess. 10 years later. Every anxiety ridden memory flooded and paralyzed me. I eventually worked up the nerve to enter that hospital and that NICU to be there for my sister. I don’t know how, but I did.


    1. Ugh – thank you for sharing. It’s amazing how the emotions and fears can just appear out of nowhere! I’ve talked to a few other preemie moms who still experience PTSD / anxiety around their traumatic births and NICU stays, even years later. Prematurity has a lasting impact on a mother’s heart, that’s for sure. Big hugs to you! I’m proud of you for being able to be there for your sister – that took a lot of guts.


  2. I can just only imagine how terrifying that would be. My son was born at full term, but had a couple of emergencies right after birth related to his blood sugar and breathing, and the 8 hours he spent in the NICU and 4 days we spent in hospital afterwards traumitized me enough. Love to you, brave momma.


    1. Thanks for sharing. Any time spent in the NICU is traumatizing – it’s something no parent expects and to be thrown into that is torture. Hugs to you, too!


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