Trauma triggers during pregnancy
Many people who have experienced past trauma manage the transition through a pregnancy and adjustment to parenthood, utilising their coping skills, resilience, and supportive people around them.
Some people who have experienced trauma may need additional support during pregnancy. A history of sexual trauma, child sexual abuse or a prior birth trauma can make pregnancy particularly challenging, often due to physical reminders and triggers. Many people have already received counselling or support for past traumas however, it is also not unusual for some women to disclose historical sexual abuse or assault for the first time while they are pregnant or after the birth.
Some aspects of pregnancy care can be especially difficult such as internal examinations or ultrasounds, breast examinations and the birth itself. More general experiences of medical intervention, lack of control or physical touch may cause distress.
Some of these triggers can be managed better if you have some strategies to apply at those times of distress and birth plans can be adjusted to help you get through the best way possible. Consulting with a psychologist or similar can give you some added and essential support.
The following services have specialist information that may be useful:
For disclosure, support, and information during pregnancy, please contact:
1800 Respect – National Sexual Assault, Family Domestic Violence Counselling on 1800 737 732
PANDA – National Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Helpline on 1330 726 306
Gidget Foundation Australia – 1300 851 758
The re-enactment of childhood sexual abuse in maternity care: a qualitative study. Montgomery et al. (2015)