Treating childbirth trauma with EMDR - A case report


We often hear childbirth described as a unique and wonderful experience. On the other hand, giving birth is often also traumatic for women. Even in high-resource settings, childbirth can be a horrifying experience (Ballard et al. 1995). Women can be a victim of abuse or other trauma before or during pregnancy, which if not treated, can have a negative impact on pregnancy, childbirth, motherhood and ultimately, on newborns. Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects about two percent of childbearing women in developing countries (Stramrood et al. 2012). In addition, around 40 percent of women have some PTSD symptoms without meeting all the criteria for the disorder (Stramrood et al. 2012). Some studies report that 28% of women have PTSD following pregnancy, and these women often complain of symptoms such as nightmares, anger, anxiety and fear of the next pregnancy (Abedian et al. 2013). Lack of support, an unplanned caesarean section and various complications during birth are only some of the factors contributing to trauma during childbirth (Hollander et al. 2017). According to Diaz-Tello (2016), women experience significant pressure and loss of control and autonomy in maternity care, and almost a quarter of new mothers who had induced labours or caesarean sections felt pressure to do so. Women attribute their birth trauma primarily to the lack of control over the situation, lack of communication between doctors and patients and lack of emotional support (Hollander et al. 2017). During the #BreaktheSilence social media campaign led by consumer advocate group “Improving Birth”, hundreds of women shared their experiences of bullying, coercion, and even unconsented procedures such as episiotomies and vaginal examinations during birth (Diaz-Tello 2016). The childbirth experience is dehumanised due to hospital protocols and the lack of a humanistic approach from medical workers. Being exposed to trauma during childbirth has a wide range of negative effects on future reproductive choices and women and their relationships with their partner and infant (Ayers 2014). These findings suggest the importance of proper medical care and proper treatment of women in labour.






Merima Pašalić
Mevludin Hasanović

Original Work Citation

Pašalić, M., & Hasanović, M. (2018, July). Treating childbirth trauma with EMDR - A case report. Psychiatria Danubina, 30(Supplement 5), S265-S270.  Presentation at the 1st EMDR Conference (2017, November) in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo



“Treating childbirth trauma with EMDR - A case report,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed July 13, 2020,

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