Birth Trauma (Postpartum PTSD) ~Dr. Katie Godfrey

Birth Trauma: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after Childbirth*

At The Catalyst Center we work to support women and their families during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum.  One of the areas in which we work is Birth Trauma.  It is reported that between 25% and 35% of mothers report experiencing a traumatic childbirth experience.  The causes of birth trauma include:

  • Medical Interventions, especially ones the mother feels were unnecessary
  • Lack of control during pregnancy and/or birth
  • Lack of support from partner and/or staff
  • Injuries experienced by mother or baby during childbirth

 Signs and Symptoms

Some women recover more quickly than others, physically and psychologically, while some find themselves struggling to move forward.  Typically the mothers who are struggling have symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  Signs of Birth Trauma and PTSD include:

  • Weepiness
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability and angry outbursts
  • Panic attacks
  • Nightmares about the birth
  • A desire to avoid the baby or anything relating to the birth
  • Feelings of detachment from loved ones
  • A sense that some other disaster is imminent
  • Physiological and psychological reactions to reminders of the birth
  • Flashbacks of birth experience
  • Lack of memory of birth experience
  • Fear of having subsequent children


 Try to not judge yourself.  Your feelings and reactions are normal for someone who as encountered trauma.  People may tell you, “As long as the baby is ok, you should feel fine about your birth experience”.  While they are trying to be helpful, please keep in mind that this just is not true.  Your birth experience matters!  As Barbara Katz Rothman said, “Birth is not only about making babies. Birth is about making mothers–strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength.”  Here are some suggestions to start the healing process:

  • Do not judge yourself.  Remember: your feelings and reactions are a normal reaction to trauma
  • Get support from family and friends
  • Join a moms group
  • Find support online
  • Get help caring for baby
  • Give yourself time to heal
  • Create art
  • Write in a journal
  • Write letters to the hospital staff (you do not have to mail them)
  • Exercise
  • Therapy, including EMDR
  • Find places to talk about your birth story
  • Body work (massage, mani/pedi)
  • Write your birth story
  • Re-write your birth story as you wish it had happened
  • Skin-to-skin contact with baby
  • Talking to baby about what the two of you experienced
  • Obtain medical records so you know exactly what happened
  • Consider talking to your doctor about medication

You do not have to go through this alone.  If you or a loved one are struggling with Birth Trauma and PTSD, please contact The Catalyst Center.  Change Begins Today!

*Adapted from: Griebenow, Jennifer J (Winter 2006). Healing the Trauma: Entering Motherhood with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  Midwifery Today Issue 80.

The Catalyst Center is here to help.  We offer individual, couple, and family therapy, as well as a Birth Circle where mothers can share birth stories.  Please contact us for more information by calling 720-675-7123 or emailing us at


Dr. Katie Godfrey is a therapist at The Catalyst Center. Her specialties include:

Ready to learn more or book your free initial consultation with Katie? Give The Catalyst Center a call at 720-675-7123.

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The Pregnant Body Beautiful


A powerful reminder of the beauty and wonder of the female form during the miracle of pregnancy!

Originally posted on Nursing Clio:

Nursing Clio is honored to have Carrie Pitzulo as our guest author again today. Carrie is an Assistant Professor of History at University of West Georgia, where she teaches courses in the history of American women, gender, and sexuality. Carrie received her Ph.D. from the City University of New York Graduate Center in 2008. Her first book, Bachelors and Bunnies: The Sexual Politics of Playboy, was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2011. Carrie’s current project explores the role of women and gender in the nation’s last public hanging.

Sometime in the mid-1990s, I journeyed to see pop goddess Tina Turner in concert. Her opening act was the equally fabulous Cyndi Lauper. I assume, and hope, that Cyndi sang “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” and “Time After Time,” but I truly don’t remember the details, except for one. What I remember is that as one of the…

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Reconnecting with Your Partner After Baby: Asking Open-Ended Questions Activity ~Dr. Katie Godfrey

Reconnecting with Your Partner After Baby: Asking Open-Ended Questions Activity

Adapted from And Baby Makes Three by John M. Gottman and Julie Schwartz Gottman

The transition from couple-hood to parent-hood can be exhilarating, exhausting, fascinating, enchanting, and overwhelming. Oftentimes couples are focused on their babies (rightly so!) and may feel distanced from their partners. These open-ended questions serve to open up conversations between partners, thus recharging the connection you and your partner share. You’ll be surprised at how much your relationship will change if you shift from just making statements to asking your partner open-ended questions.

Instructions: First, read through this list. Then, each of you select one question. Take turns asking your partner the question you selected, and listening to your partners answer. If you have time, keep going and talk about another question or two. This is fun for a date night, a long car ride, or any time!

  • How can I be a better friend to you?
  • How have you changed in the last year?
  • What do you enjoy most about being a dad (mom)?
  • How have your goals in life changed since our baby has come?
  • What are you missing most in your live since we’ve become parents?
  • What are some of your life dreams now?
  • What do you value most in your life now?
  • Who do you think is the best parent you have ever seen? Why?
  • How can I be a better partner to you?
  • How do you think having our baby (or being pregnant) has changed our relationship? What legacy do you want our baby to have from your family?
  • What are some unfulfilled dreams in your life?
  • What changes would you like to make in your lifestyle now that Baby has arrived? What changes would you like to make in your home these days?
  • What would you like to change about your finances right now?
  • How has your family changed toward you since Baby arrived?
  • How has your outlook on life changed since you became a parent?
  • How are you feeling now about being a mother (father)?
  • What could we do to have more fun in our life?
  • What would you like to change about your work?
  • What would you like our life to be like in two years?
  • How would you compare yourself to your father or mother as a parent? What kind of person would you like our baby to become?
  • Who does our baby remind you of in your family?
  • What has been your favorite time so far in our relationship?
  • Do you long for anything these days?
  • What is the biggest challenge for you as a dad (mom)?
  • What are your major stresses and worries these days?
  • What are your thoughts and feelings about religion or spirituality these days? How have your political ideas changed since Baby came?
  • How have your friends or family changed toward you in recent years?

To enhance your relationship further, please contact Dr. Katie Godfrey at The Catalyst Center. Change begins today!

Suggestions for Family and Friends of Postpartum Moms ~Dr. Katie Godfrey

Postpartum Depression, Anxiety, Obsessive Compulsion, and Trauma:

Suggestions for Family and Friends

 Postpartum depression threatens the mother’s and partner’s health, relationship, friendships and careers, as well as the baby’s welfare.  Dealing with issues of day-to-day living becomes a special challenge.  With patience and understanding, you can give invaluable support and assist a depressed mother’s recovery.  Here are some suggestions:

  • Encourage her to seek the help of a physician and/or psychiatrist.  An evaluation is important, and medication may be very helpful.  There are some medications that are considered safe during breastfeeding.  Consult your physician.
  • Encourage her to seek therapy.
  • Let the mother express her feelings of anxiety and fear freely.
  • Encourage her to exercise and take time for herself.
  • Encourage the mother to join a PPD support group.
  • Help her develop a schedule with one or two simple tasks.  Notice when she makes an effort.
  • Don’t take her criticism personally.
  • You are justified in being frustrated with her attitude and actions, but be sure to direct your anger at the situation and her illness, not at her.  She is doing the best she can in her current condition.
  • Be aware that you can get depressed yourself, and may need help as well.  Talk to a friend, physician, or therapist.

**Adapted from Postpartum Education for Parents

The Catalyst Center is here to help.  We offer individual, couple, and family therapy, as well as a Birth Circle where mothers can share birth stories.  Please contact us for more information.  Change Begins Today.


Dr. Katie Godfrey is a therapist at The Catalyst Center. Her specialties include:

Ready to learn more or book your free initial consultation with Katie? Give The Catalyst Center a call at 720-675-7123.

Spring’s Featured Catalyst Center Therapist: Dr. Katie Godfrey

ImageAs spring is approaching, many people are deciding it is time to take the opportunity to do some emotional “spring cleaning” and are looking for a great therapist to help them meet their goals. The Catalyst Center’s Dr. Katie Godfrey is an excellent choice for someone looking for a warm, genuine, and empowering therapist. Katie excels at building meaningful connections with her clients as they work together towards growth and healing. Her clients value the experience of being deeply cared for as they work with Katie to transform their lives. In her over ten years of clinical experience her clients have often told her that they value how genuine she is, and appreciates how she balances challenging them to grow with supporting them. Katie has specialized training in several areas of expertise including helping her clients heal from trauma with EMDR and treating postpartum depression and anxiety.

Dr. Katie Godfrey’s Specialties Include:

This quarter, Dr. Godfrey has graciously agreed to lend her expertise to our blog with a series of articles about the postpartum period. She has great advice for new moms and dads who are struggling with the amazing/crazy/awesome/exhausting process of becoming parents. We are incredibly lucky to have her here at The Catalyst Center and are excited to be able to share some of her insight with you all!

To learn more about Katie’s work at The Catalyst Center, or to book your free initial consultation with her, please give us a call at 720-675-7123.


Article Recommendation: Why Should I write my birth story?”

Article Recommendation: Why Should I write my birth story?”

Check out this great article about the importance of writing our birth stories. 

Interested in sharing your story? The Catalyst Center is now offering a monthly Birth Circle group! Call us at 720-675-7123 to learn more.

Book Review: “Hold Me Tight” by Susan Johnson (review by Kendra Doukas, MS, LMFT)

Kendra Doukas, MS, LMFTToday, one of our therapists, Kendra Doukas, MS, LMFT, is sharing her review of the book “Hold Me Tight” by Susan Johnson

I just finished re-reading what I consider to be some of the best information about couples and relationships out there, Dr. Susan Johnson’s “Hold Me Tight: Conversations for a Lifetime of Love” (2008). Dr. Johnson is the founder of Emotionally-Focused Couples Therapy and her book explores the attachment principles behind human connection, specifically within intimate partnerships. For many people, this book serves as a complete reframe of conflict within couples. We often try and tackle relationship conflict with tools and skill building. While these things are important, they often miss the mark.

In the book, Dr. Johnson beautifully illustrates how the basis of all human interaction is rooted in emotional connection and attachment. The way we feel safe or not in our partnerships mirrors the way we felt safe our not as infants with our caregivers. If we have a secure attachment with these fundamental people then research finds that we both give and seek love more readily. As it is put in the book, securely attached couples “roll with the hurts better.” These couples are also found to have healthier balance of separateness and togetherness, and tend to even like themselves better.

When we fight with our partner, we are essentially protesting the fact that we feel emotionally disconnected from him or her. Tools and skill-building in this case just won’t cut it. They may help temporarily, but they are kind of like taking pain relievers for chronic headaches that are caused by needing to wear eyeglasses. Learning more skills won’t hurt, but it also certainly won’t solve the problem.

Dr. Johnson describes couple interaction as a dance, “The more I –fill in the blank–, the more you—fill in the blank–, which causes me to continue to—fill in the blank” and the cycle continues over and over again. This is why it feels to couples like they have the same argument over and over again. One week it might be about the dishes and another about parenting responsibilities, but it is the same exhausting fight and the same hurt feelings. They only way to solve the couple conflict is for both people to understand the dance in which they are trapped in its entirety and what their individual steps in the dance look like. Then the couple can unite against the dance they are caught in (which is the problem) and move past it.

Although this is quite a paradigm shift for most of us, I believe it is a hopeful one. If we can master our understanding of the cycles we are caught in, then we can change them. And even more exciting is the fact that once they are altered, the purpose of the fight is diminished. The hopelessness so many couples feel can be transformed into feeling safe and secure so that when issues arise, they are much less of a blow.

~ Kendra Doukas, MS, LMFT

Kendra is a therapist at The Catalyst Center. Her specialties include:

Interested in learning more about Kendra or booking a free consultation with her? Kendra Doukas, M.S. LMFT can be reached by calling the Catalyst Center main office at 720-675-7123 or by emailing us directly at

Ask a therapist: “Do you constantly analyze your friends and family members?” (answered by Kendra Doukas, MS, LMFT)

Kendra Doukas, MS, LMFTToday, we continue our popular series “Ask a Therapist” with one of our therapists, Kendra Doukas, MS, LMFT answering one of our most commonly asked questions: “As a therapist, are you constantly analyzing your friends and family?”

This is one of my favorite frequently asked questions. Most people assume therapists are continuous judges on others’ behavior. It seems to be generally assumed that therapists are going to feel the need to jump in and analyze or give you their feedback on everything. My friends and family will make jokes such as, “Oh, what she must be thinking” or “Watch out, she’s a mandated reporter!”

The ironic thing is that therapists are some of the most non-judgmental people around. Most of us become therapists because of some internal belief that all humans are good and are trying their best. Therefore, we actually give you the benefit of the doubt far more than most others will. The other thing to consider is that as therapists, we see a wide array of human behavior and you kind of can’t shock us. Facts that may be appalling to some folks seem almost standard to us.

There is an inherent second part to this question that is critical: the incorrect assumption that therapists can analyze their own relationships. Having a true and accurate analysis of a relationship requires a neutral perspective. Therefore, we cannot establish a fair or accurate assessment of our own relationships because we are half of the equation! So, the next time you wonder if your therapist friend of family member is secretly judging all of your choices, remember that this is most likely the furthest thing from the truth. In fact, you might turn to this person during times when you most need a forgiving opinion.

~ Kendra Doukas, MS, LMFT

Kendra is a therapist at The Catalyst Center. Her specialties include:

Interested in learning more about Kendra’s work or booking a free consultation with her? Kendra Doukas, M.S. LMFT can be reached by calling the Catalyst Center main office at 720-675-7123 or by emailing us directly at