Birth Trauma Support

After a less positive birth, comes healing

 

Trauma is defined as:

“a deeply distressing or disturbing experience, emotional shock following a stressful event or a physical injury.”

The cocktail of hormones that surge through a woman’s body during labour mean the potential for trauma to happen is heightened.

That being said, anyone involved in birth (not just the mum) can experience birth trauma. This could mean you, the dad, the birth partner, doula’s, midwives, doctors, even the baby.

Trauma – from the Greek, “Wound.” Trauma can be physical such as a cut or a broken leg. Trauma can also be non-physical. It can be your thoughts, feelings and emotions. Your state of mind.

It’s worth pointing too, that trauma is a completely normal response to an abnormal situation.

Your brain just needs a little help to organise and process what has happened.

Some of the possible consequences of birth trauma are…

  • shock
  • denial
  • disbelief
  • confusion
  • difficulty concentrating
  • anger
  • irritability
  • mood swings
  • nightmares or reliving the birth experience
  • wanting to avoid places associated with the birth or your baby
  • anxiety
  • fear
  • guilt
  • shame
  • self blame
  • failure
  • withdrawing from people
  • feeling sad or hopeless,
  • disconnected or numb,
  • difficulty bonding with your baby
  • endlessly going over what could have happened ‘if only’

Trauma is in the Eye of the Beholder

  • Any trauma you perceive is your own  interpretation of events and how it makes you feel.
  • No one can interpret another’s labour.
  • No one can tell you that your feelings aren’t real or valid.
  • No one can tell you you’re wrong or that you ought to feel a different way.
  • No one can say, ‘well, at least you have a healthy baby!’ or, ‘you should be grateful!” or, “that’s nothing when I gave birth THIS happened!” and expect that to change your experience.

Having a healthy baby at the end of pregnancy and labour is the bare minimum in the 21st century. Every decision you make is designed to create this outcome. What is missing is the understanding that the process of birth is important. The experience of this momentous day can ripple throughout your life. If it’s a less than positive one these ripples can have enormous consequences.

What Causes Birth Trauma?

Trauma in birth can result from feeling out of control during labour, from poor communication by health professionals, physically traumatic labour such as forceps or c’section, fear for your own health and well being and fear for that of your baby’s.

Even if a labour goes smoothly a woman can still experience trauma if she did not feel listened to, respected or felt violated for some other reason.

Partners Can Feel Trauma Too

It is becoming more widely accepted that people who attend birth can also feel trauma.
Partners, midwives, doulas, anyone else in the birth room can be affected by the events of birth too. Often they do not experience the massive surge of hormones that can help a women through the labour.

So even if the woman reports that she had a great birth observers may find they experience something quite different! The not knowing, the appearance of someone they care for going through labour, the emergence of life, all mean that attendants are probably running on adrenaline, the neo cortex is running full tilt making every second sear into their
memory. Sometimes this can be perceived as trauma and people can need help to move on from this.

How do I know if I am  experiencing birth trauma?

Have you experienced some or all of the followings types of symptoms?

  • Numb or disconnected from your feelings and emotions
  • Difficulty bonding with your baby
  • Hyper awareness and extreme reactions to every day situations
  • Feeling stuck, replaying or reliving the birth experience
  • You may just feel upset about your birth experience, uneasy or feel unable to move on from it
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Negative thoughts or mood
  • Avoiding places or people associated with the birth
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Intrusive thoughts
  • Nightmares or flasbacks
  • You may just feel it was a less than positive experience
  • Feelings of guilt

If you have answered yes to any of these possible symptoms and they became an issue only after the birth of your child then it is possible that birth trauma is something that you are experiencing.

Do I need a diagnosis of birth trauma in order to move on?

You do not need a diagnosis of anything to access this Birth Trauma Support therapy.

You simply need to feel that your birth was less than positive and you want to seek healing to move on from it.
However, seeking appropriate medical help can also be very important if you require medication, additional support or help which a GP can advise about.

Birth trauma stories

Reading about birth trauma stories is as important as reading about positive birth stories. Having a rounded perspective is part of making informed choices about birth. I won’t add in any stories about birth trauma here just now but I will add something on this at a later date.

In the meantime here is a great post on why birth trauma stories are important, it is well worth a read.

What Can I do to Prevent Trauma from Happening?

It is important to understand that trauma can occur at any time. Certainly a degree of planning may mitigate some issues BUT as the cause of trauma is external and never the fault of the person experiencing it a plan alone is no guarantee.

Having a good understanding of labour and birth can help you to process the experience before it happens.  You could develop a good understanding of what birth involves from attending the antenatal classes I provide. They are designed to help you to prepare for birth and could reduce the potential of a traumatic birth.

Understanding what happened in a previous labour can help to reduce further trauma. Dealing with previous traumas unrelated to birth can improve your chances too.

Having a supportive and informed advocate with you such as a doula or a birth partner can help reduce the potential for birth trauma through being present and well prepared.

But please remember – a plan is just that, a plan. If you experience trauma or a less than positive birth it was not because of the plan it was despite the plan.

How can I heal from Birth Trauma?

There are a number of support systems which you can access which may help you.

External support

Self Care

  • Massag
  • Time to heal
  • Promote your interests
  • Accept help
  • Keep a diary

Who am I and how am I qualified to help address your traumatic birth?

My name is Fi. I am a mum of 2 and have worked as a hypnotherapist and Daisy Foundation Perinatal Educator for 5 years. I am fully qualified and insured, I am registered with Fedant and I am a member of  the General Hypnotherapy Register.

I work from The Sheffield Wellness Centre on Abbeydale Road and I am passionate about birth, baby’s and families.

Having had a less than positive first birth and an isolated traumatic experience during my second I am all too aware of the impact these thoughts and feelings can have on everyday life.

The constant replaying of events, being right back there, the associated feelings and emotions can be draining and make it feel like moving on and living in the now is very hard work.

My interest in birth trauma and qualifications as a hypnotherapist lead me to develop a specialist program to help you overcome the trauma or less than positive birth you have experienced.