Can partners experience birth trauma too?

YES. Witnessing a difficult or traumatic childbirth can affect you as dad/partner.

This can range from distress and overwhelm to symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

What can contribute:

  • High medical intervention
  • Long or very fast labour
  • Feeling helpless or loss of control during the birth
  • Not feeling heard
  • Fear for mother or baby’s safety
  • Emergency delivery
  • Feeling more like a spectator/observer than a participant


What to watch for:

  • Intrusive images from the labour, birth or postpartum
  • Flashbacks, nightmares, dreams of the event
  • Disconnect with baby or mother
  • Difficulty with sex or intimacy
  • Sleep problems
  • Irritability, anger, sadness, difficulty concentrating
  • Re-playing the birth over in your mind, or blocking it out completely
  • Sense of fear related to birth, hospitals, your baby, etc.
  • Negative beliefs (about self) or guilt related to the birth


What to do:

  • Find a way to tell a version of the birth story in a way that you are comfortable with when people ask (helpful to prevent re-traumatization).
  • It may be helpful to have a conversation with the medical professionals to help provide answers to unanswered questions.
  • Know that trauma from childbirth is real, and it is okay to seek help.
  • Talk to a therapist who has knowledge in the area of childbirth trauma or trauma. Your EAP provider through work may be able to assist.
  • Connect online if you cannot seek counselling. (
* stay tuned for more information on Partners and Postpartum