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The impacts of birth trauma on bonding with your baby

"After my emergency c-section, I had so many questions. Why had my body failed me? Why hadn't I been able to birth my baby vaginally? The OB that came to review me on the ward the following day had no time for my questions and frankly seemed uncomfortable I was breastfeeding which seems bananas, but she left quickly without really saying much at all. When I got home I found it very difficult to bond with my daughter. I cried a lot. I was so sad that I hadn't had a natural birth and I felt that my daughter preferred my husband, that when I held her she cried and that she only needed/wanted me for my breastmilk. I remember as I fed her I often looked down at her and cried wondering how I could love her so much but she didn't love me. I was in so much pain from my c-section and had only been discharged with a small amount of pain medication that I tried to ration. My husband and my Mum were an immense help during this time, without them I don't know how I would have coped but neither of them understood how I was feeling. I could see my husband struggled that I didn't enjoy holding or doing skin to skin, but to me there didn't seem any point as she did not like me. I struggled with the journey into motherhood in every way, becoming a Mum was nothing like I had expected. My baby never slept and she cried if she wasn't being held. I felt trapped. She wouldn't go in the pram, or even in the carrier for longer than 5-10mins without screaming. I remember often feeling like I just wanted to escape and be left alone. I can't actually remember at what point, or how I decided to get help but I eventually spoke with my GP about how I was feeling (at around 9 months postpartum) and she put me on a mental health plan and referred me to a psychologist.

I also mentioned to my GP that I was still having some physical symptoms - which included excruciatingly painful sex and constipation/straining - both of which I had endured for too long just assuming they would self-resolve. She referred me to a women's health physio (something that I had not heard of until that point which in retrospect was completely ridiculous). These two things were what helped me heal both physically and mentally. I was able to get treatment for my PNDA and for my hyperactive pelvic floor and I am now symptom free for both. And although some days are definitely a struggle being a mum, I feel confident that I can overcome these struggles with the skills I have learnt and the support I am so lucky and grateful to have.

I also want to add that my daughter and I now have the most amazing and close relationship that still grows and strengthens every day. It's actually hard to believe now I ever felt that way, but I did, and it does happen but help is available. You don't have to go through those feelings and thoughts alone."

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