I have worked as a clinical psychologist for over 15 years. My experience and recovery from PTSD in 2010 following a natural birth with my daughter led me to dedicate a portion of my practice to researching the impact of psychological trauma incurred during labor and delivery. Studies note an increased risk of birth trauma and PTSD when mothers undergo natural birth without pain relief. One is also at risk when unexpected procedures become necessary for the health of the mother or child. Ultimately, any experience of helplessness and perceived trauma (i.e., “coping” with something that feels beyond one’s ability to cope) during labor and delivery can lead to traumatic symptomatology that puts a mother at risk for postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety. Birth clearly has a psychological outcome in addition to the physical one.
I have also taken up research on modern day American parenting and believe many of today’s “experts” focus too heavily on the psychology of the child despite the fact that relationships are a two-way interaction — two sets of needs negotiating in a unique way. We all to often fail to appreciate the mother’s psychology — her very real pain, her feelings, her needs — as we suggest one-size-fits-all recommendations for hot topics like breastfeeding, co-sleeping, and “crying it out”. Paying better attention to the mother’s psychology would help reduce PTSD and postpartum depression / anxiety while broadening our understanding of what accounts for “healthy” postpartum parenting.
In an effort to negate the unnecessary judgement of mothers not able or inclined towards natural birthing and parenting, I have put together this website with solid articles addressing the hot topics they may face. My work is dedicated to each individual’s personal recovery and journey outside of any ideology or external parenting expertise.
Boukje Eerkens, Psy.D., QME