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Do birth injuries affect the relationship between mother and baby?

View profile for Leanne Devine
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Experiencing a birth injury can have profound effects on both the physical and psychological well-being of a mother. In this article, we look at how birth injuries impact the mother-baby relationship, the consequences on bonding times, and explore ways to mitigate these challenges. 


Psychological effects on mother due to trauma 


Going through a traumatic birth can leave lasting psychological scars on a mother, impacting not only her relationship with the baby but also her overall mental health. Mothers in this situation may grapple with feelings of failure and a sense of inadequacy in fulfilling their maternal duties. The long-term psychological effects can manifest as intense fear, helplessness, and, in severe cases, lead to a diagnosis of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). 

Birth trauma can also affect the intimate relationship between partners, as flashbacks of the delivery during intercourse may trigger anxiety. This emotional strain can result in difficulty sleeping and nightmares, further exacerbating the challenges faced by the mother. 

In addition to psychological effects, a mother may experience poor self-image and low self-confidence, influenced by societal pressures and a perceived loss of control over her body. Feelings of isolation may arise, as partners and family members may not fully understand the depth of the pain, leading to detachment and difficulty in discussing the experience.


Impact on Bonding Times


The aftermath of a birth injury can create distance between a mother and her baby. Whether due to physical recovery or feelings of inadequacy, the lack of early bonding can adversely affect the baby's development


How Both Factors Can Affect the Relationship


Research conducted by the MASIC Foundation (an organisation that supports mothers who experience a serious injury during childbirth) revealed that 85% of women stated that birth injuries significantly impacted their relationship with their child. This effect ripples through other close relationships in a mother's life, affecting partnerships, family dynamics, and friendships. 


Mothers may distance themselves from their infants during the crucial initial stages of their lives, fearing they may inadvertently harm their child. The emotional complexity of blame, guilt, shame, and isolation can lead to strained relationships. Shockingly, 31% of mothers felt their child would do better without them, 24% regretted having their child, and a third saw their child as the source of their injuries. 


What can be done to mitigate this?


Mitigating the impact of birth injuries on the mother-child relationship requires a comprehensive approach: 


Processing the birth experience 

Encouraging mothers to process the traumatic birth experience can be cathartic. This allows them to express their feelings, providing an outlet to cope with the experience and understand that they had little to no control in that situation. 


Seeking professional help 

Therapy can be invaluable for mothers struggling with self-care and mental health. Professional support can help them navigate the challenges and emotions associated with birth injuries. 


Actively bonding with your child 

Spending quality time with the new child can help mothers overcome feelings of inadequacy. Witnessing the child's growth and development can gradually fade the memories of the traumatic birth. 


Relying on your support system


Building a strong support system is crucial. Loved ones can play a vital role in helping the mother meet her needs, from providing emotional support to assisting with practical tasks. As the saying goes, 'it takes a village,’ and having a support network can significantly aid in the healing process. 


Additionally, several books may offer valuable insights and support: 




Understanding the impact of birth injuries on mothers and their relationships with their babies is essential for providing the support and resources needed for healing. By addressing the psychological effects, promoting bonding activities, and seeking professional help, mothers can navigate the challenges associated with birth injuries and work towards rebuilding and strengthening their relationships with their children.