Study: Dads Can Get PTSD After Witnessing Traumatic Birth
April 17, 2013
by Kim Hays
My dad was out in the hallway when I was born. My husband, on the other hand, had a front-row seat to my C-section. Sure it was surreal for him, seeing me on the operating table, but as soon as the twins were born we smiled and celebrated and then he scooted away with them.
While my delivery went smoothly, my bestie’s didn’t. The cord wrapped around her baby girl’s neck, and she was rushed into the operating room for an emergency C-section. She woke up hours later not knowing what happened or where her new baby was. It was pretty traumatic.
Her husband was there in the delivery room, too, as the mood changed from “life event” to “life-threatening.” She went for surgery, and he waited for news, afraid and alone.
A new study out of Oxford University finds that, for some dads, frightening of birth experiences can be so mentally scarring they’re left with post-traumatic stress disorder. The experiences of the dads in the study included seeing large amount of blood, fearing for the lives of their wives and baby, and seeing their newborn in the neonatal intensive care unit — all with little medical information to put it into context.
Birth trauma isn’t new. Studies have shown that as many as 34 percent of moms suffered some sort of trauma and that 9 percent of women stuffer from PTSD associated with childbirth – a number that might, in reality, be higher since some moms may be too embarrassed to seek help.
But while doctors, family and friends are doting on mom and baby, dad’s emotional needs sometimes go unnoticed and unmet.
“Often we’re running around trying to save mum’s life. We need to think about das as well,” study researcher Professor Marian Knight told the Daily Mail “It can be extremely vivid because they are fully aware of what’s going on.”
What about you? Was your birth traumatic or blissful? How did dad handle it? Let us know.