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Tips for screening after a traumatic birth

Posted on: Friday, 16th June 2023 by Paula de Souza, Helpline Advisor

If you have experienced a traumatic birth and are feeling worried about going for your next cervical screening, here are some suggestions to help and details of where you can get further support:

  • Ask to have an initial appointment before you have your screening so you can meet the nurse who will be performing it
  • Tell them that you have experienced a traumatic birth and what you are worried about. If you don’t want to talk it through, you could write it down and give it to them
  • Let them know what you would find helpful e.g., would you prefer them to talk you through each step and check in with you regularly, or just perform the whole procedure and let you know when it’s finished?
  • Book a double appointment if it would help you to have extra time
  • Take someone with you to the appointment for support
  • Grounding exercises such as breathing, or visualisation can help you through the procedure
  • Listen to some music to help distract you during the procedure
  • Some women find it helpful to take something comforting with them to hold like a smooth stone or piece of material. Feeling this in your hand can help you feel grounded
  • Plan something nice to do afterwards
  • Remember you can stop the appointment or procedure at any time and try again another time
  • If you feel you can’t face your screening appointment at the moment, that’s ok, you can always think about it again at a later time, for example in a few months, when you might feel more able to have it

Other sources of support

Tommy's provide expert advice before, during and after pregnancy: www.tommys.org

Birth Trauma Association has a Helpline, a closed Facebook group for peer support and details of therapists specialising in this field: www.birthtraumaassociation.org.uk

Miscarriage Association: www.miscarriageassociation.org.uk 

National Childbirth Trust: www.nct.org.uk 

Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society (SANDS): www.sands.org.uk