By Donna Moore, PhD student, Centre for Maternal and Child Health, City University London
If you enter the search term “PTSD birth” into Google it yields approximately 692,000 results. There is a growing “voice” on the WWW concerning birth trauma. There are professional websites such as the Birth Trauma Association and sites run by survivors. There are pages dedicated to PTSD and childbirth on popular parenting sites such as Netmums. There are perinatal PTSD forums, discussion boards, Twitter feeds, yahoo groups, web logs (blogs), YouTube videos, chat rooms, Google+ and facebook pages. People are hashtagging, tweeting, pinning, liking and sharing…and I’m blogging about it!
In my research I have reviewed websites for postnatal mental illness; postnatal depression, anxiety, PTSD, and psychosis. I reviewed resources on the world wide web (WWW) to identify the top websites for healthcare professionals and women with postnatal illness to use. The WWW provides information on symptoms, risk factors and treatment options and this could have implications for screening and prevention. There are also a range of resources for women including self-help tools (i.e. letters to healthcare professionals, prevention and stories), support (i.e. forums, email and personal messaging) and additional resources (i.e. leaflets, podcasts and audio/visual).
The internet offers continuous access with information just a click away (or a press of the app on a mobile phone). Women can utilise the WWW’s features without worrying about what others may think of them as they can search and participate anonymously. Birth stories feature regularly on perinatal PTSD websites which could also indicate some cathartic effects of sharing ones experience of trauma. There are growing and vibrant virtual communities offering women the space to have an online “voice”. Healthcare professionals could gain valuable insight into women’s experiences of birth trauma and suggest online resources to their clients.
Furthermore, healthcare professionals working in this area can benefit from using the internet in many ways. Academic online networking sites such as LinkedIn and ResearchGate can assist in collaboration with other researchers, exchanging ideas and disseminating research (no need to rely solely on networking at conferences). Indeed, this website is run by a network of researchers and clinicians who are working together to reduce birth trauma and perinatal PTSD across the world. There are many possibilities to expand and promote perinatal PTSD research globally.
Healthcare professionals could suggest quality websites to their clients to provide education and additional support. After all, it is crucial to increase public and professional awareness of perinatal PTSD and continue to help women who suffer and their families. I look forward to hearing this virtual voice get louder and louder.
Online support groups
Babycentre traumatic birth support group
PNI.ORG – active and supportive forum for all postnatal mental illnesses
SANDS – forum for stillbirth and neonatal death
Solace for Mothers – support for women who had a traumatic birth