“Grief is like the ocean. It comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.” – Vicki Harrison.
Grief is an emotion we all can associate with. #2020 has included a variety of grief for most of us: from losing loved ones, to not being able to mingle, to dealing with the new ways to adapt, schooling, and more. For some, the loss will never be filled. I grieve with you. I am holding space for you.
Grief is also an emotion that some new moms experience. Be it from losing a child, losing one’s old identity, baby being born with a disability, unexpected delivery of baby or baby being in the NICU. This is related to Postpartum PTSD (PPPTSD) or Perinatal PTSD (PPTSD) related to childbirth or birth trauma.
PPTSD is a global health issue. World Health Organization (WHO) identifies maternal mental health as a global health priority. Ten percent of pregnant women and 13% of postpartum women experiencing an undiagnosed mental health disorder as identified by WHO. WHO recognizes 9% of the U.S. perinatal population diagnosed with the disorder and an additional 18% being at risk for the condition.
So what is PTSD?
It is a mental health condition that may be triggered by experiencing a traumatic event by witnessing it or experiencing it. Events like war, natural disaster, rape, abuse, death or an accident. The symptoms may include uncontrollable recollections of the event, intrusive thoughts, anxiety, flashbacks or nightmares, changes in mood, a depressed state of mind.
For women, “birth trauma” which is the experience of childbirth may cause PTSD. Dr. Barbash describes that birth trauma can be from:
- Births where the mom experienced significant blood loss
- Emergency caesarean, after the baby’s heart rate suddenly drops
- Forceps birth
- Extreme or intense pain
- Escalated medical intervention to save the baby or mom
- Baby born with a disability as a result of traumatic birth
- Unexpected, or early, delivery of the baby
- Baby admitted into the special care baby unit or neonatal intensive care unit
I had the privilege to interview one courageous mama who shares her journey through PTSD Keya Wingfield. Keya describes herself as a Richmonder. Chef. Entrepreneur. Instructor. Mom. This is Keya Wingfield. The culinary education is from Virginia, but the love and passion come from Bombay, where she was born and raised. But this isn’t “Indian Food.” It’s food by an Indian. Like Keya, it’s complex, diverse…and definitely bold.
I love Keya – She is so humble and down to earth. Coming from a similar culture, I am ethnically from Pakistan and Keya from India. I am blown away by her creativity when she infuses the Asian elements into her cooking. Everything Keya bakes is a piece of art in my perspective as I am a foodie myself and love trying different foods. Her Dark chocolate sea salt rose jalebis have left a lifelong impression on my mind.
Most people know her as the winner of the recent Food Network’s Spring Baking Championship in Season 7
But what most people don’t know is that Keya and her family were experiencing a tragic loss while the episodes of the Spring Baking Champion were airing. Having a c-section, her newborn being admitted to the NICU for 8 weeks, daily visits to the hospital with the fresh c-section wounds, inability to hold him, and the emotional exhaustion to deal with the stress if your baby will make it. These are all experiences that can trigger PTSD symptoms in mothers. Keya shared the maternal birth traumatic experience she had with her son Daksh, which presented post-traumatic disorder symptoms or even post-partum post-traumatic disorder.
Listen to the podcast episode here: Keya Wingfield’s Journey through PTSD
If you or your loved one is experiencing any of the symptoms discussed today, I urge you to seek professional help. I have included articles below so you can learn more about maternal PTSD. There is also a link on how to find a trained PTSD or trauma counselor.
As we wrap up May Mental health awareness month, I want to remind you to take care of yourself. I understand your pain. Friend, you do not have to suffer in silence. Avoiding or numbing your pain is not the solution. You will experience the impact of unresolved trauma in your life at some point. It is best to lift your chin up, acknowledge the pain, process the grief, seek professional help and work on yourself now. Your life is way too important to live in survival mode. You deserve to be thriving and live your best life now.
Have Questions? Send me an email at: email@example.com.
How to find a trauma or PTSD therapist: Psychology Today
More Helpful PTSD hotline numbers:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (also affiliated with Mental Health America): (800) 273-TALK (8255).
- Veterans Crisis Line: (800) 273-TALK (8255) and press “1”. This toll-free hotline is available for veterans and their loved ones. You can also send a text message to 838255 to receive confidential, free support and referrals.
- Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741. This service is available 24/7 and provides free crisis support and information via text.
- National Hopeline Network: (800) 442-HOPE (4673).
- PTSD Foundation of America, Veteran Line: (877) 717-PTSD (7873).
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): (800) 950-NAMI (6264). Available Monday through Friday between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. EST
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): (800) 662-HELP (4357).
- MentaHealth.gov: (877) 726‑4727. This hotline is available between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. EST to provide mental health information and treatment referrals.
- National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH): 1-866-615-6464 (toll-free), 1-301-443-8431 (TTY), or 1-866-415-8051 (TTY toll-free). Available between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. EST.
- Boys Town: (800) 448-3000. Specially trained Boys Town counselors are available 24/7, 365 days a year to provide crisis support specifically for children and their families.