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Goldie Hawn opened up about her traumatic birth experience. Experts say it's never too late to address trauma.

Sep 18, 2021, 06:03 IST
Goldie Hawn spoke about the traumatic birth experience of her son 45 years ago. Vince Bucci/Getty Images
  • Goldie Hawn shared that she had trauma from the delivery of her son Oliver Hudson, who is 45.
  • Hudson said he believed the birth affected him on a subconscious level.
  • A doctor said birth trauma is common, and people who are struggling should reach out for help.

Goldie Hawn's baby might be well into his 40s, but Hawn recently opened up about the traumatic birth and how the emotions from that day came rushing back, decades later. "It was terrible," she said. "I have cried so many times, even in recent times."

Hawn spoke about her trauma on the podcast "Sibling Revelry," which is hosted by two of her children, Kate Hudson, 42, and Oliver Hudson, 45. In this particular episode, Hawn was filling in for Kate, and the conversation with Hudson turned to mental health.

Hawn talked about how Hudson needed lifesaving care after his birth by emergency cesarean section. The baby had aspirated meconium, the first bowel movement, and was in distress. "I learned that my baby might die," Hawn said to Hudson. "You had a 40% chance of living."

At first, Hawn was afraid to see Hudson, who was in the neonatal intensive care unit.

"The doctors said, and the nurses said, you must go up and see him. I was so afraid of what would happen if I saw you again. I would fall in love with you, and you would die," she told her son on the podcast. "And that would scar me forever if I lost you."


Eventually, Hawn found herself visiting her son three times each day.

Hawn's family members had trauma, too

Hawn and Hudson talked about the way that trauma had affected their family. Although Hudson doesn't remember his birth, he believed it affected him on a subconscious level.

"I was whisked away from you - didn't have a mother's love - and was put on a metal slab. Even though that was unconscious, how could that not have impacted me in some way?" he said.

Hawn said her own mother was triggered by the experience.

"My mom went to bed, and she didn't come out of her room for several days because her first baby had a SIDS death," Hawn said. "My mother, on top of everything, was having this PTSD, horrible moment."


Hawn didn't realize how much she had been traumatized until years later, when she was visiting sick children in a NICU in Buffalo, New York, and started having panic attacks.

Birth trauma comes in all forms

Birth trauma can stem from an array of experiences, G. Thomas Ruiz, the OB-GYN lead at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California, told Insider.

"You could define a traumatic birth as anything that may cause psychological stress to the mother or the father," he said.

For some people, having an unplanned cesarean can be traumatic. Others experience more acute trauma, as Hawn's mother did after losing her son to sudden infant death syndrome.

"What's trauma for one person is not trauma for another," Ruiz said.


Nowadays most providers are more aware of the trauma that can accompany birth. Whenever there is a difficult birth, Ruiz connects the parents with a social worker, who can get them resources and evaluate the need for ongoing support. He also brings the parents back in about a week after the birth to check on them, both physically and psychologically.

Processing the birth soon after it happens can lessen the chance that someone develops post-traumatic stress disorder from the experience. But Ruiz said PTSD from birth is more common than many people realize.

He added that if you find yourself struggling with memories from the birth of your children, no matter how long ago the birth took place, you should reach out for counseling or mental-health care.

"Any time along the process, if you sense you're having difficulty, get help," Ruiz said.

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