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Providing Specialized Professional Counseling Services for Women with PTSD and Memories of Past Abuse 

When Survivors of Sexual Abuse Give Birth


Pregnancy can be a time of uncertainty and fear about parenting skills, questioning relationships, balancing career and parenthood, wondering how to be a good parent.  There is a heightened intensity of emotion, which can be triggering for people with abusive pasts. Your feelings about past abuse, rape, or other significant trauma may impact your emotional state.

Indeed, studies show that medical interventions, even if necessary and performed sensitively, can result in feelings of being violated and traumatized. In addition, it is important to recognize that her relationship with her medical provider may re-enact a power dynamic whereby the patient is re-traumatized by feeling powerless. The womanly act of breastfeeding may trigger some survivors so badly that this feeding method becomes impossible, and these feelings can be compounded by feelings of failure.

The survivor may react to these stresses with increased hypervigilance (a symptom of PTSD), anxiety, depression, crying spells and fear. She may worry excessively about every body change, trying to control the pregnancy by not eating, and opting for a scheduled cesarean section out of fear.

Somatic Experiencing® is an effective and gentle therapeutic tool to treat trauma before, during and after pregnancy.

Women need to know it is okay to ask for help.

Managing Issues of Sexual Abuse, PTSD, and the Emotions of Pregnancy & Birth

Somatic Experiencing® is an effective and gentle therapeutic tool to treat trauma before, during and after pregnancy.
There are many experiences on both the body and emotional level in the childbearing year that can potentially trigger abuse memories for the abuse survivor.

Some triggers might be a gentle gynecological exam even from an understanding provider, the wonderful normal feeling of your baby moving in utero, and the medical interventions of birth, even if not extraordinary, might be triggers for post-traumatic symptoms to re-occur.

Rituals, expressive art and writing, psychoeducation about body changes, discussion about birth practices, having her educate her birth practitioners can help contain the aroused feelings and help the woman feel she can openly include her ob/gyn or midwife in communication about her unique situation.

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