trauma treatment for mothers Austin
October 05, 2023 By Leah Malone

Transitioning to Motherhood While Managing the Effects of Trauma


Women with a history of trauma may face additional challenges during and after pregnancy. Childhood sexual abuse (CSA), adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), and the effects of trauma often contribute to the development of substance use disorder (SUD) and mental health issues in adulthood. According to Sage, “Positive relationships have been described between CSA and unintended pregnancies, adolescent pregnancies, prenatal depression, poor health during pregnancy, and significantly more hospital admissions during pregnancy.” Emerge Recovery TX provides trauma-informed care to mothers recovering from SUD and co-occurring mental health disorders. 

How Do the Effects of Trauma Impact New Mothers?

Women with a history of trauma may have difficulty connecting with their children during and after pregnancy. Stressors related to pregnancy may cause some women to develop prenatal depression or other complications. Women who were sexually or physically abused may find pregnancy checkups and the pregnancy itself traumatizing. According to the previously mentioned article in Sage, “The emotional effects of CSA on labor and delivery include extreme fear of childbirth, unintentional triggering of repressed memories and flashbacks, and intense fear.”

The symptoms and side effects of unaddressed trauma affect pregnancy by doing the following: 

  • Causing increased stress, fear, anxiety, and depression 
  • Interfering with a mother’s attachment to their child 
  • Causing tension or conflict within relationships 
  • Reducing trust between mothers and their care team 
  • Increasing the risk of health complications, including postpartum depression (PPD)

Pregnant women and new mothers may struggle to cope with the pressures of motherhood unless they receive professional mental health treatment for trauma-related issues. Mothers in recovery benefit from integrative care and personalized treatment programs. Tailored treatment services help women heal, grow, and form healthy attachments with their children by addressing underlying trauma. 

The Effects of Trauma on Relationships

Most trauma is interpersonal and takes place between family members, domestic partners, and close friends. Interpersonal trauma influences how women see themselves and respond to social interactions. During pregnancy, some women may have difficulty trusting their partner, care team, and even themselves. The added stress can lead to physical and psychological complications during and after pregnancy. 

Trauma affects relationships in the following ways: 

  • Reduces trust 
  • Increases the risk of unhealthy relationship dynamics, including codependency
  • Makes it more difficult to establish and maintain boundaries
  • Reduces feelings of comfort and safety 

Professional substance abuse and mental health recovery programs use evidence-based methods to decrease the adverse effects of trauma on motherhood. Family therapy, couples counseling, and other forms of therapeutic support provide couples and families with the help and guidance they need to successfully navigate early motherhood and recovery. 

Potential Attachment Issues During and After Pregnancy

Aspects of prenatal and postnatal care may affect how women build attachments with their children. According to the previously mentioned article in Sage, “[O]bstetric procedures that are part of regular perinatal care might trigger memories of previous traumas, thereby increasing the risk of a traumatic stress reaction and compromising the attachment process.” Pregnant women and new mothers participating in trauma treatment have a lower risk of re-traumatization. Emerge Recovery TX uses trauma-informed care to empower women and help them develop healthy attachments. 

What Treatments Are Used to Help Mothers Manage the Effects of Trauma?

Mothers in recovery have a range of available therapies and holistic services. Emerge Recovery TX prioritizes personalized integrative care and trauma-informed therapies. Our care team provides psychoeducation to ensure clients make informed decisions. 

Some of the most common treatment options include: 

  • Self-help groups and other forms of peer support 
  • Individual psychotherapy and counseling
  • Prescription medication to manage severe or persistent mental health symptoms 
  • Alternative holistic therapies 

Our care team collaborates closely with clients to ensure they have access to the treatments they need to recover successfully from SUD and related mental health issues. 

Integrating Past Experiences Into Your Sense of Self 

Women with a history of trauma may feel pressured to resolve issues related to their trauma before the child is born. The time-sensitive nature of trauma recovery during pregnancy makes it essential for women to find supportive resources and programs to help them achieve those goals. Often, women focus on their hopes and dreams about the life they want to have with their children. Making positive lifestyle changes before pregnancy empowers women and increases self-confidence. Emerge Recovery TX provides women with the tools, skills, and resources they need to build a healthy future for themselves and their families. 

Many women feel compelled to “forgive and forget” traumas to prepare for the birth of their child. However, “forgetting” doesn’t mean pretending the trauma never happened or didn’t cause significant emotional pain. Instead, “forgiving and forgetting” involves accepting the situation and finding healthy ways to process the trauma and integrate various aspects of the self. According to the previously mentioned article in Sage, “For many women, pregnancy and the transition to motherhood provided the impetus for positive change.”

Motherhood and Thriving in Recovery

Mothers participating in treatment programs at Emerge Recovery TX have access to essential social support and resources. The programs allow women to grow, heal, and thrive in recovery while creating healthy bonds with their children. Motherhood is beautiful, and women with a history of trauma can use the tools they learn in treatment to embrace their role as a mother. 

Motherhood is often challenging for women with a history of trauma. Substance misuse and co-occurring mental health issues may complicate treatment during and after pregnancy by increasing physical and emotional stress. Emerge Recovery TX helps women address traumas while simultaneously treating SUD and mental health disorders. Our care team collaborates closely with women and their families to ensure the best possible outcome for the mother and child. Psychotherapy, medication management, group therapy, and other services help women by creating a safe space where they can heal and grow. Clients are encouraged to take an active role in creating a treatment plan to meet their unique needs and goals. To learn more about our programs, call us today at (737) 237-9663.

About Author

Leah Malone

Learning to sit with uncomfortable feelings can be painful and disturbing at times. When Leah was able to see her behavior patterns and decided there was enough pain to be disturbed, she became motivated to make changes and accept the work that needed to be done to heal. She needed direction and had no clue how to heal on her own. Through a connection with God, authentic connection with others, honesty, willingness, and humility, Leah is now in recovery from addiction and trauma.

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