Can a Difficult Birth Create Psychological Problems Later?

It is well known that psychological trauma of any sort can have a lasting, damaging effect on human beings. The earlier the trauma, the more profound the effect, so the impact of a difficult birth on the infant as he develops  into a child and adult can be especially significant.

The Birth Experience

Imagine being a fetus. Imagine floating comfortably in the warm, soft, dark, fluid space of your mother’s womb, drifting in and out of sleep, surrounded by muffled sounds and heartbeats.

Then imagine the sudden shock of being awakened, and pushed and squeezed into the harsh, stark, and noisy outside world, amid your mother’s pained shrieks, racing heart, and adrenalin charged system.

Add to that the strain of an unusually long labour, painful forced delivery, or a life threatening situation, such as being strangled by the umbilical cord, and you have a major traumatic event. Then add the inevitable distress of the mother, to whom the baby is psychologically and energetically linked, and you have a super trauma.

And try to imagine, on top of all that, the added distress on the newborn infant of being removed from the mother for emergency treatment: the infant’s or hers.

What an incredibly cruel, loveless, unpredictable and scary place the world would seem to the distressed newborn.

That is the experience and sensation that is imprinted onto the traumatised neonate’s untainted mind.  A newborn’s immature nervous system is purely unconscious mind, combined with life or death driven emotion, so it does not have the cognitive capacity to be able to sort experiences and make sense of the world in a logical, conscious way. Its mind is like a blank sheet on which is printed the first experiences. And this imprint becomes the blueprint on which the child’s life and future experiences are fashioned.

Long Term Psychological Effects

Children who have had traumatic births are more likely to be anxious or aggressive than their easy-birth counterparts. Of course genetics and many other factors come into the equation too, but, if all else was equal, the child who was traumatised at birth would be more vulnerable to psychological problems.

Separation from the mother at birth, as well as the mother’s own post-trauma stress response, can affect the early bonding between the mother and child, which is another major factor in the child’s psychological development.

As a clinician, whenever I am presented with a highly anxious, angry, or oppositional child, I always ask the parents about the child’s trauma history, including their birth experience.  Actually I do this with my adult clients too. And very often the links are obvious.

Effective New Treatment

Modern psychological treatment can help to correct the psychological damage of a traumatic birth. Therapies such as EMDR [Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing], EFT [Emotional Freedom Technique], and AIT [Advanced Integrative Therapy] are particularly powerful.

I mainly use AIT in my practice today, and find that it is incredibly effective for dealing with the effects of early trauma. AIT uses kinesiology, or muscle testing, to help the clinician and the client communicate with the client’s unconscious, to determine which early traumas might be affecting them in the present. I find that traumatic births are indicated quite often.

The really good news is that clearing the birth trauma with AIT is quite simple and straightforward, and once the early traumas and their links to presenting problems are cleared, and the blueprint is recreated with a clear, conscious mind, the client is able to let go of lifelong symptoms, such as excessive anxiety, fear of abandonment, anger and control issues.  This is incredibly exciting stuff.

Lorri Craig practices AIT in her own privagte practice in Brighton, UK, and internationally by phone or Skype. To find out more about AIT go to the article on this site: WHAT IS ADVANCED INTEGRATED THERAPY?

Image thanks to arztsamui at

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58 Responses to “ Can a Difficult Birth Create Psychological Problems Later? ”

  1. Lorri Craig on April 15, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    Hi Susan
    Thanks for your question about your daughter. And sorry for the delay in response. Yes, I believe that your daughter’s emotional vulnerability could well be linked to her birth trauma. I think it would be helpful for her to address this through therapy. I find it is also helpful to treat the parent as well, because the traumatic birth can set up a pattern of worry that feeds the child’s anxiety. I don’t know of any AIT therapists in South Africa [if that's where you both still are], but you or she might be able to find an EMDR or EFT/TFT therapist who would be able to help. I do AIT sessions by phone or Skype, so that is definitely another option for treatment. Please email me at if you or your daughter would like to arrange a session.
    Best wishes…Lorri.

  2. Susan Nieuwenhuis on March 9, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    Hi Lorri
    I gave birth 34 years ago to my daughter. I began to go into eclampsia from the morning at about 9:00 till 21:00 that afternoon when the baby was taken out by C-section. The doctor did not have time to spend on the baby and she was placed in aside. A nurse went out of her instructions and give the baby mouth to mouth breathing and send her to Johannesburg where she was placed in incubator for 6 weeks.(born at 32 weeks 1.224kg) Her childhood was filled with episodes of fainting, nausea, anxiety and she has a heart valve not closing properly. Her problems increased when she got older and she started to develop major allergies, her fainting was more regularly (we thought it could be low blood sugar) and she started developing severe depression and cannot handle stress well. Her psychiatrist started to treat her with some kind of epilepsy because her eyes change often (the pupils became big black – almost the whole part of the blue part in her eye and then one eye is different from the other eye)

    Can this symptoms I described have anything to do with her birth?

    I would like to hear from you.

    Thank you

  3. Pauline on October 13, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    Thanks Lorri, I agree and am not sure medication is the answer but how do I find the best person? She did not relate well to her NHS psychiatrist as there was a langusge barrier. Is it possible to contact you less publicly?

  4. Lorri Craig on October 12, 2013 at 7:19 am

    Hi Pauline
    Even though your daughter is on medication, it’s usually better to have therapy as well, as long as she is willing. If she would rather not work by skype, please hunt around for a local person who could help her. Good luck.

  5. Pauline on October 12, 2013 at 7:02 am

    Hi Lorri,
    Thank you for the information about skype. My daughter is 22. A psychiatrist has just prescribed paroxetine.

  6. Lorri Craig on October 4, 2013 at 8:23 pm

    Hi Pauline
    When I do AIT by Skype, I usually use self muscle testing, which means that I tune into the client and muscle test myself. Otherwise I ask the client to tune into the feelings and where they are holding the trauma in their bodies. Most often I use a bit of both. Skype is not ideal for young children, but it is possible if the parent can work surrogately with the child. How old is your daughter?

  7. Pauline on October 1, 2013 at 8:47 am

    Hi Lorri,
    How does the AIT by telephone or skype work? How do you do the kinesiology bit?
    I am trying to find help for my daughter but we live in Scotland and I can not find a therapist on the list in this part of the world.

  8. Lorri Craig on September 12, 2013 at 6:58 am

    Hi Sabrina
    Once again, please forgive me for neglecting to respond to your comment. I have now, and have included your original story and my response below, so that it doesn’t get lost in the other comments…. Lorri

    My story is long but I have been searching for answers for a very long time. Perhaps you can help shed some light and give some direction. I was born at 8 months gestation 53 years ago when my Mom began to hemorrage and I was drowning in her blood. She slipped into a coma and I was taken by c-section and placed in an incubator. I suffered severe respiratory distress and was in nicu (or whatever it was called 53 years ago) for a few months. My Mom recovered from her coma and was released from the hospital before I was released. The doctor said we were both lucky to have survived. From what I have heard from family members, my parents were having very serious marital problems during my Mom’s pregnancy with me and she discovered some shocking news about my Father just prior to going into early labor. For the first 5 years of my life I would have episodes where I would stop breathing and had to be rushed to the hospital. The doctor said that my lungs would strengthen over time and eventually these episodes stopped. My Mom said I was very nervous and afraid as a little girl. She said I would run in the house screaming and crying if a truck passed by or a plane flew over the house. She said that I would cry when my older sisters would crack their gum or wiggle their toes. My eyes would stick together and I fell down the stairs many mornings. My parents divorced soon after I was born and it was violent and horrible; not a friendly divorce at all. I wanted out of the house and so I met my childhood sweetheart and became pregnant at age 15. As I said, the story is long so I am going to fast forward to age 37 when I developed Cushings Syndrome. The doctors could not find the source and so I asked them many times if it may have had anything to do with my traumatic birth and they would never entertain the idea. I eventually had my adrenal glands removed and now take hormone replacement therapy. I wonder if my adrenal glands could have been saved with one of the techniques you mentioned or if any of those techniques might still be helpful as I suffer from severe anxiety,depression,and seem to be unable to live a fruitful life. Lots need to be sorted out and healed in my life even from pre-natal…..

    I WROTE:
    Hi Sabrina
    I am so sorry for not responding quicker. I mistakenly thought I had. Thanks so much for your story. I am not an expert in physical diseases, but given that Cushings Syndrome is related to cortisol, a stress hormone, I think your suggestion about a link between this illness and your very stressful beginnings is quite likely. It makes intuitive sense anyway. Your birth experience would have programmed your nervous system to be on high alert, and it sounds like this continued throughout your childhood, so your body would have created far more than a normal amount of stress hormone. Sabrina, I do believe that you can get help for your anxiety and depression from a good therapist, particularly an AIT therapist. I can do sessions by skype or phone, but you might want to go to the AIT web site to see if you can find a local person to work with you in the flesh. It’s at
    Good luck Sabrina and contact me directly at if you want to.

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