Perinatal Trauma and Loss Service (PETALS)
We recognise that people may experience overwhelming distress as a result of their perinatal journey. There are many experiences that can lead to this distress. We at PETALS offer talking therapy support across Greater Manchester for women and birthing people who are not currently pregnant and who have experienced the following difficulties:
Trauma and Loss
Women and birthing people may experience trauma when trying to conceive, during pregnancy, birth, or after birth, for example if their baby has spent time in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Trauma like this can be painful. People may also experience the loss of a baby. Here at PETALS we know that there are a variety of experiences of baby loss, including In Vitro Fertilsation (IVF) which hasn’t worked out as hoped, the loss of a baby during pregnancy or birth, the early ending of a pregnancy for any reason, or the loss of a baby in the first two years of a baby’s life. Losing a baby at any point and for any reason, can be incredibly painful. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to be feeling after these experiences.
Immediately following a loss or trauma, it is common to experience distress and struggle with emotional wellbeing. For some people who may feel the impact of grief, while the pain never completely goes, life starts to grow around the pain. For other people, they can feel stuck in their suffering after many months, or years. For example, someone might find themselves avoiding reminders of what happened and experiencing flashbacks (feeling back in the past and reliving what happened). People may notice nightmares, changes in mood and anxiety, intrusive or scary thoughts or images, shame and self-criticism. People may notice this is having an impact on day-to-day life, their relationships, and choices around reproduction.
This is an understandable response to the trauma and not a person’s fault. We acknowledge that people may not recognise their experience as traumatic.
Regardless of how traumatic the event is viewed by others, we know it is the individual’s feelings and personal experience which is most important.
Intense Fear (Tokophobia)
We recognise that people may struggle with an intense fear or anxiety about pregnancy, childbirth, hospital, or medical settings, which is preventing them from taking steps towards trying for a baby. If you are struggling in this way, then please do not give up hope, you are not alone.
We are driven by compassion, and we value relationships to help people feel emotionally safe. We work with and alongside you, empowering you to have choice and control over your care. These difficulties can impact everyone in our community, and our service strives to reflect the diversity across Greater Manchester. We are a safe space for all. Regardless of how long ago the loss or trauma occurred, our door remains open.
Our Therapeutic Support
We are a friendly team, made up of a range of different professionals. We offer a range of talking therapies to women and birthing people, on a one-to-one basis and in group sessions, to help people move towards the life they want to be living. We work together to consider the options best for you.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT): Helps change patterns in thoughts, behaviour or actions and feelings.
Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR): Reduces the distress of traumatic memories. It is less of a ‘talking approach’ than traditional therapies. It uses eye movements to process memories.
Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT): Helps people with shame and self-criticism. It uses thinking, behavioural and mindfulness techniques to increase compassion for self and others.
We recognise that each person and family are individuals with their own journeys. We can therefore work flexibly, drawing on a range of therapies to support you to move towards your goals.
Peer Support involves someone with lived experience, drawing upon and sharing their own experience in order to support people towards their own recovery. We recognise that support is key for parents, co-parents, fathers and their families, as families are on this journey together. We recognise that partners can also experience trauma as a result of these experiences, as well as having their own emotional health needs. We can signpost to outside agencies such as Proud To Be Parents and local charities. We have Peer Support Workers working alongside us.