Was your birth experience traumatic?
Even though it might be many months, or even years, ago do you feel quite emotional about your birth experience and find it is still affecting you?
It’s completely understandable for you to feel in a state of shock after any traumatic event. But as time goes on do your friends and family struggle to remain understanding? Meaning well, do they say things like "You should be grateful..." or "At least you have a healthy baby..." which only serves to make you feel even more hopeless? It's like you don't matter, isn't it?
It's not so much what happened or how baby was born but how you were treated and cared for during labour, birth and the early postnatal period. If you felt out of control and no-one took the time to explain what was happening in a compassionate way any birth could feel traumatic.
Persistent unwanted thoughts about your birth recur in your mind which can be exhausting and makes you anxious. You desperately want to move on but for some reason find you are unable to put it behind you.
You may be given a diagnosis of post natal depression but, although the two can be present together, Birth Trauma is very different. The symptoms are those experienced in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and some of the signs include:
Having flashbacks, nightmares or perpetual thoughts about your birth
Distress over anything that reminds you of your birth experience, including anniversaries, birthdays or other women's birth stories
Avoidance of activities such as baby groups, or other places where you might be reminded of birth
Feeling emotionally detached from your baby, partner, family or friends
Being fearful of the place where the trauma happened or the people involved.
Difficulty remembering your birth, memories, if any, may be in snippets
Fear of sex or intimacy, perhaps causing vaginismus
Dreading another labour and birth, refusing to have any more children
What on earth can you do about this? Birth Trauma is a psychological injury, not an illness, so we can use a very simple technique, TBR 3 Step Rewind Technique, to release you from the hell you've being going through.
As the name implies it involves THREE stages:
Recalling the event in a particular guided way while you are safe and secure
Reframing how you will perceive and respond to things in the future
This therapy is a brief process that can relieve the symptoms, mentioned above, after 2 or 3 sessions. Occasionally a session might need to be repeated but, in most cases, people will notice a significant decreasing, or complete ending, of these symptoms. If talking about your traumatic birth experience will make you feel uncomfortable there is no need for you to tell me what happened.
If PTSD symptoms are still a problem for you then the treatment is useful in eliminating them, whether it's been one month, one year, ten years or more since your traumatic birth experience.
Also, if you are pregnant now as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault or rape during adulthood you needn't take that trauma with you into your labour and early parenthood.
TBR 3 Step Rewind Technique could help you too.
Who will benefit from this technique?
Mothers and/or fathers who have experienced a birth trauma at any time. Yes, fathers too. They should not be discounted from this as they are often witness to the trauma, feeling like a helpless bystander
Birth workers such as doulas and midwives who have witnessed a traumatic birth
Mothers who have experienced sexual trauma in the past and feel anxious about the birth because it may cause the triggering of symptoms
Four themes emerged that described the essence of women’s experiences of birth trauma:
To care for me: Was that too much too ask?
To communicate with me: Why was this neglected?
To provide safe care: You betrayed my trust and I felt powerless,
The end justifies the means: At whose expense? At what price?
Conclusions: Birth trauma lies in the eye of the beholder. Mothers perceived that their traumatic births often were viewed as routine by clinicians.
(Beck, 2004, pp. 28-35)
Birth Trauma sessions
TBR Step Rewind Technique
- £55 per session or £99 for 3 sessions
To process previous Birth Trauma (2 to 3 sessions typically)
- £40 for 90 minutes
In this antenatal workshop I will work with you through a list of potential triggers, identity those personal to you and then consider ways to minimise them. This is ideal if you have had a previous traumatic birth, perhaps a previous Caesarean birth or maybe trauma in earlier life.