Families in Crisis: Resolving Birth Trauma in At-Risk Populations

An online conference for birth and behavioral professionals
Presented by PATTCh


February 5 & 6, 2018

Learn with experts in the field how to help your clients prevent, recognize, and heal the effects of birth trauma.

February 5, 2018

Day one starts with three presentations by PATTCh board members and experts in the field.

</p> <p>How Sensory Nerves Contribute to Women’s Positive<br /> or Negative Experiences of Birth: Oxytocin vs. Stress Response</p> <p>

Kerstin Uvnas Moberg, MD, PhD

Birth contains both physical and emotional aspects, and the quality of mothers’ birth experiences are directly related to this mind-body interaction. Mothers’ responses are governed by two competing responses: oxytocin and stress. If oxytocin is up, stress is down, and mothers are more likely to have a positive experience. The converse is true. When stress is the predominant state, mothers’ experience of birth is more painful and potentially traumatic. Birth interventions, such as Pitocin, can cause abnormal birth pain, upregulating mothers’ stress response. This can also happen when mothers do not feel safe in their birthing environment. In this presentation, participants will learn about the physiology that underlies birth, particularly the role of the sensory nerves, and how birth interventions, such as epidurals, Pitocin, or opioids, can influence this physiology. Dr. Uvnas Moberg will also describe how simple interventions, such as touch or skin-to-skin contact, can decrease mothers’ experiences of pain by affecting the sensory nerves and the upregulation of the oxytocin response.


  1. Describe how too much activity in the sensory nerves in the uterus can increase stress/HPA activity.
  2. Understand the physiological mechanisms by which touch and skin-to-skin contact can modify pain responses.
  3. Discuss the role of the two competing systems—oxytocin and stress–and how to modify these responses during labor for more positive outcomes.
Navigating Childbirth and the Perinatal Period through the Lens of Autism Spectrum Disorders

Sharon Storton, MA, MS, Reg Psych

The childbearing and childrearing periods of life can be challenging enough, without the layering of perceptual and processing differences adding unique considerations to the mix.  Family systems are certainly impacted when an adult member is managing the physical, mental and/or social differences presented when one or both partners are non-neurotypical.  Even normal perinatal and birthing sensations and medical care can present trauma-inducing circumstances to women and partners balancing spectrum-related barriers.  In this webinar, you will learn to consider diagnosed and undiagnosed autism spectrum experiences, and how to use this information to create a plan for birthing families that will allow enough latitude for comfort and safety within the sometimes-rigid processing dilemmas of Asperger’s and other autism spectrum-based differences.  We will also discuss options to be contemplated when meeting the needs of women who are wrestling with trauma-based symptoms after childbirth that are influenced, entirely or in part, by processing-based differences.


  1. Describe three ways in which autism spectrum-based differences impact the birthing woman’s physical/emotional experience
  2. List two strategies for aiding a non-neurotypical woman in processing her birth experience.
Birth Trauma, Childhood and Adult Adversities: Does Prior Trauma Increase Risk?

Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, PhD, IBCLC, FAPA

Are women more vulnerable to birth trauma if they have experienced prior abuse or adversity? Previous research suggests that trauma survivors are more vulnerable to PTSD, depression, and anxiety when they are exposed to subsequent stressor. Yet current research suggests a more complex picture regarding birth. Some studies have shown that trauma survivors are more vulnerable to birth trauma, while others have not. This presentation explores current findings on child and adult adversities, and whether these experiences increase risk for birth trauma. Also presented are new findings from the Survey of Mothers’ Sleep and Fatigue, which includes data from 6410 new mothers.


  1. Describe the link between birth trauma, adverse childhood experiences (ACES) and adult adversities.
  2. Identify the links between abuse/adversity and birth trauma
  3. Identify the impact of birth intervention on maternal mental health and breastfeeding.
  4. Describe the impact of ACEs and partner violence on breastfeeding.
  5. Describe the physical mechanisms activated by trauma and how Trauma-Informed Care can address those symptoms.

February 6, 2018

Day two continues with two more presentations, followed by a Q & A period with presenters from both days.

Another Time Around: Having Another Baby after Traumatic Birth

Suzanne Swanson, PhD

Parents who’ve experienced a traumatic birth are often apprehensive about a next pregnancy and birth. This presentation will help parents to look backward and forward – claiming their strengths, identifying core beliefs about birth, refining their communication skills, creating connection and collaboration.


  1. Identify three possible activators of perinatal trauma.
  2. Identify three possible symptoms of perinatal trauma.
  3. Describe two strategies for soothing the activated brain/body after trauma.
  4. Name three types of communication that can be addressed and learned as a pregnant couple prepares for another birth after a previous traumatic birth.
Silent Suffering: Partners’ Experiences of Traumatic Birth

Leslie Butterfield, PhD

Over the past several decades, partners have moved from the waiting room to into the birthing/delivery room. They are expected to offer ongoing physical and emotional support, coaching, and advocacy to the birthing woman.  Many partners feel incompetent and unprepared for the intensity of labor and delivery, even more so if complications arise.  Some feel overwhelmed with the need to protect and defend the birthing woman – regardless of their own cognitive or emotional state. This presentation will focus on the common experiences of partners who are present at traumatic birth, delineating the themes they describe as important, and describing the ways in which they may require attention and aid both during a difficult birth and after the baby is born.


  1. List four common experiences shared by fathers who witness a traumatic birth.
  2. Identify two characteristics of “witnessing” vs. “experiencing” traumatic birth.
  3. Describe two therapeutic approaches to help fathers following traumatic birth.


A limited number of reduced price registrations are available to support professionals who come from and work within low-income or underserved ethnic, cultural, and geographic childbearing communities. Please submit one paragraph noting your name, email address, your role in serving childbearing families, and the community you come form and serve. 

Click here to apply by Sunday, January 21, 2018.  Your application for a scholarship will be reviewed and awarded by Thursday, January 25, 2018.