Fear, Stress, and PTSD in the Birth Room

Fear, Stress, and PTSD in the Birth Room

Fear about childbirth is a valid and real emotion, and it can cause the months and weeks leading up to the birth of your baby to be extremely stressful. By acknowledging those emotions now, you can help find options that allow your fears to be minimized. 

Fear About The Known and Unknown 

Being fearful about what to come as you approach your birth date can happen to birthing individuals and partners alike. If you find yourself having strong fears about what you have learned about the birth experience, such as fear of pushing, fear of tearing, and fear of unwanted interventions, finding alternatives to those fear inducing topics may be available. As doulas, we are experts in options and can help you navigate around your fears so the experience is less frightening. If you are fearing more about unknown elements of labor and delivery, making sure you choose a medical team that understands your wishes and concerns can help lessen those fears.

Stress Impacting Birth 

Just as stress can manifest in your body and cause muscular knots and tension, it can cause an impact in and on your body as you begin to labor. While we cannot say that having a doula will automatically decrease your stress level, the continuous support our doulas provide in the form of a comforting hand to hold and a supportive ear to validate your feelings, can lead to a less stress filled birth room. Finding both mental and physical comfort measures can be helpful to decrease your stress levels, which in turn decrease stress hormones that when elevated can impact the production of oxytocin and other hormones necessary to progress labor. 

PTSD from Birth 

Giving birth can be very traumatic for both parents, and due to that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) may occur. While this PTSD can be because of memories of a physical injury, often times it is due to the experiences that a birthing person encountered in the birth room. An emergency cesarean birth can be one cause for birth PTSD, but it should be also noted that that a vaginal birth may also be cause for mental stress and anxiety. “Extreme pain and a sense of loss of control” (Reynolds, 832) are two of the most common reasons for birth trauma and birth PTSD.

Fearing of giving birth again can also be a trigger for PTSD. If your previous birth experience was not what you were expecting, we encourage you to seek out a therapist to help you prepare for your upcoming birth. Remember, a previous traumatic birth experience does not define you.

Support from a Doula

Both birth and postpartum doulas are trained to provide emotional support to clients throughout pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period. This emotional support can take whatever shape you need help you feel calmer and more empowered during your birth experience.  

Contact us to learn more about our support. 





Reynolds, J. L. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder after Childbirth: the Phenomenon of Traumatic Birth. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 15 Mar. 1997,