Postnatal PTSD often misdiagnosed, warns expert

Postnatal PTSD often misdiagnosed, warns expert
From BBC - December 6, 2017

Hundreds of mothers suffering from postnatal post-traumatic stress disorder are undiagnosed in Wales every year, according to experts.

Women who have a traumatic birth are vulnerable to the condition.

The Birth Trauma Association estimates 1,000 women every year in Wales will develop PTSD after birth.

But just 22 cases were recorded in two health boards last year, while others did not provide figures to a Freedom of Information request by BBC Wales Live.

The condition leads to flashbacks and anxiety and experts believe this is the "tip of the iceberg" as it is often unrecognised and misdiagnosed by midwives, GPs and health visitors.

Mother-of-two Hannah Freimanis, from Carmarthenshire, said she suffered flashbacks after the traumatic birth of her first son Marleigh.

She had an emergency caesarean section and when Marleigh was delivered using forceps, his heart had stopped.

"I went from a screaming room of people to deadly silence. I was asking what they were doing and no-one was talking to me," she said.

Her flashbacks got worse after an equally traumatic birth with her second son Sebastian three years later.

"You are not looking back on an experience. It's not like a memory - you are in it, you are living it."

After four years she was diagnosed with postnatal PTSD and treated and is now coping with the condition.

But her sons' birthdays still trigger feelings of anxiety: "It never feels completely happy and joyous like it should - I feel selfish even saying that."

Ms Freimanis said there was a misunderstanding about the condition and even a "dismissive approach" when it comes to the trauma of childbirth.


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