WHEN a woman “feels broken” in the most intimate part of her body, it has a “massive” impact not only on her relationship, but her quality of life and mental health, a co-founder of the Australasian Birth Trauma Association says.
Amy Dawes will share her personal experience at a birth trauma seminar in Lake Macquarie on Wednesday night in the hope it will help other women and families recognise they are not alone.
“I want to share the psychological impact of physical birth trauma, because there seems to be a huge lack of awareness surrounding the psychological consequences of – particularly physical – birth trauma,” she said.
Ms Dawes, based in Brisbane, had her first child delivered by forceps in 2013.
“I was very focused on having my natural birth and I knew nothing of the risks of vaginal birth,” she said.
“I had my pelvic floor muscles torn off the bone and a severe anal sphincter tear as well. It has completely altered my quality of life.”
At the time, Ms Dawes found little online about physical birth trauma, as most women suffered in silence.
“Most people are too ashamed to talk about their injuries, and the subsequent consequences of their injuries – like incontinence, and pelvic organ prolapse,” she said.
“Up to 20 per cent of first time mothers will experience irreversible physical trauma, so about 15,000 to 30,000 women every year,” she said.
“We are still pro-vaginal delivery, but we just want women to be aware of the risks – just as they are for caesarean section. They need to know the risks, particularly with interventions such as forceps, so they can make an informed decision.”
Ms Dawes, of Brisbane, will speak alongside obstetrician and gynaecologist Professor Peter Dietz at the free women’s health event hosted by Catherine Henry Lawyers at Charlestown Bowling Club from 6pm.
“It massively affected my relationship,” Ms Dawes said.
“When we were planning to start a family, we didn’t budget for the thousands upon thousands we spent on doctors, physiotherapy, couples counselling, and psychiatry that was to come. And of course it completely impacts you as a woman when you feel broken in the most intimate part of your body.
“It has certainly affected how I mother because I have barely picked up my daughter since she was 16 months old.”