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The Effect of Birth Trauma on Dads

Whilst the concentration is usually on the mother and child in the event of a birth trauma, the effects also extend to the worried father. In this article, we’re looking at the effect of birth trauma on dads.

Birth injuries can have devastating consequences – some of which are life changing for both mother and child. While attention is understandably focused on the mother and the child, the father can often be overlooked amongst the chaos.In some cases, the fact is, is that he’s likely to be suffering considerable emotional trauma. 

In this article, we’re going to be looking at birth trauma and the effect of this on dads. 

What Can a Birthing Trauma Involve?

This is the term used when an injury is caused during birth to either a mother, a child or both. In many instances, this happens as a result of an accident or through the incompetence or negligence of a doctor, nurse or other medical professional. Common birth injuries include: 

  • Cerebral palsy – This is a condition which can occur before, during or after birth and which can vary in severity. In severe cases the child will need lifelong care. 
  • Stillbirth – This is the term used when a child has died before birth occurs. 
  • Perineal tear injuries – This common type of injury occurs when there is damage to the delicate tissue between the vagina and the anus. 

When a birth trauma is found to be the fault of the doctor, hospital or medical professional, the patient will often take legal action in order to gain financial compensation and to prevent a similar incident happening to somebody else in the future. 

How Does a Birth Trauma Affect Dads?

For most men, awaiting the birth of their child is a worrying but joyful time and for most this results in nothing more concerning than the odd sleepless night. Unfortunately, others are not so lucky and, when a birth injury occurs, it can affect the dad in numerous ways, including: 

Anger

When a birth injury occurs – particularly if by fault of a doctor or hospital, many men will experience extreme anger. While mainly directed at those involved, this anger can seep out around the edges, causing the dad to lash out at those around him, occasionally including loved ones. This can often cause rifts in the relationship during what is already a stressful time.

Guilt

Many men are conditioned to be the ‘strong one’ and to protect their loved ones. When something occurs which is out of their control, such as a birth injury, it can often leave a man feeling powerless and guilty. 

Sadness

Unsurprisingly, a birth injury – particularly one which results in the death of a child, can cause profound sadness in the dad. Unfortunately, this can spiral into depression, leaving the man unable to function normally. This, in turn, can lead to further feelings of guilt as the dad may feel unable to support his partner when it is needed the most. 

Tackling Birth Trauma for Dads

Unfortunately there is no quick fix when it comes to overcoming trauma. However, taking the first steps is incredibly important and there are many resources that dads can turn to for help in overcoming a birth trauma. Some resources include: 

  • Counselling – A good counselor will be able to help you to sort through the numerous emotions that occur following a birth trauma and will work with you to figure a way to move forward for yourself and your family. 
  • Birth Trauma Association – While not qualified counsellors, the father’s page of the Birth Trauma Association’s website offers a number of support resources for dads. 
  • Social media groups – Often, it can help to just talk to people who have been through the same experience and social media groups such as the Facebook Birth & Trauma Support Group may be able to help. 

Life after a birth trauma

While some birth traumas are relatively minor, others can have drastic consequences, including a child who requires lifelong care. In the event of a birth injury which you believe has been caused by negligence or incompetence by a hospital or doctor, you may be entitled to financial compensation which will help you to pay for the care and equipment that your child might need – which, in some cases, can be significant. 

In this instance, it’s important to act as quickly as possible. Begin by noting down everything that happened – or as much as you remember. This should include:

  • Dates and times
  • Names of doctors or medical professionals
  • Names of medications which were administered
  • Conversations with doctors or medical professionals

You should then get in touch with a specialist solicitor who will help you to ascertain whether or not you may have a case for compensation and, if this is the case, he or she will be able to represent you in legal action against the hospital. 

While financial compensation will not, of course, fix the damage that has been done, it will however help you to meet the additional expenses that you may incur due to the birth trauma inflicted on your family.

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