If you’re reading this post and this is you – then I’m sorry and I hope it doesn’t trigger you in any way. Many of us, including myself, didn’t get the birth that we wanted – the birth that we had hoped for and visualised – I’d class us as having birth disappointment or birth grief. For others, it’s bigger than that, and they might have not only been disappointment but experienced trauma for whatever reason – if that’s you – then it’s important that you find a way and space to express how you’re feeling so that you can move on. And for others, it might be much more serious – with PTS/PTSD experiencing flashbacks, numbness, hyper-vigilance.
I believe that our births are a fundamental cornerstone to how we start our parenting journey. I believe that a good birth allows parents mums and dads to parent in the way that they want. Where birth hasn’t been a positive experience, we have to work a lot harder and the harder our births have been, then the more support we AND our babies need to get to a good place. This never means that we don’t love our babies (although for some mums regardless of the birth they have had may take time to fall in love with their babies – whilst we don’t necessarily like to hear it – it happens a lot – that’s separate from the issue that I’m talking about now).
Why do I place the importance on this? Healing from a physically and emotionally difficult birth when we are trying to look after a new baby at the same time, needs support. How can you look after a new baby when you need to look after yourself. It’s vital that you have good quality support around you to help you come to terms with what’s happened to you – and not just for you but your birth partner. I’ve seen too many mums, fragile post birth, trying to work out what on earth they have been through whilst also coping with the normal demands of a baby. A baby who has also had a challenging birth may need support too to let them know that they are safe – birth can have a profound affect on a baby (often mistaken for being colicky or refluxy when actually they are stressed and need extra support too). Birth trauma/PTSD or birth grief all increase our susceptibility to postnatal depression with PTSD being very much identified in it’s own right as part of the Perinatal Mental Health spectrum.
So here’s some information I’ve pulled together based on emails I (unfortunately) regularly send on to clients about ways they can help to get over their birth and I hope you might find some of it useful:
- Nicola Hogg, Healing the Pain of a Traumatic Birth Experience
- Rebecca Schiller, All that Matters
FREE things you can do:
- Speak to your partner or trusted friend or family member
- Access your birth notes and spend time going through them (ensure the support of your partner or a trusted friend or a doula – see below)
- Ask to get a debrief at the hospital with a different consultant or midwife
- Journal 5-10 minutes every day – I find it an easy way to get rid of things whirring round my brain when I’m trying to make sense of something that’s happened/happening – you don’t need to write neatly or slowly – just passionately scribble anything going on in your head – it great for life as a parent as well as overcoming anything else that’s going on – write each day until you have nothing left to say – it much be physical writing – not on the laptop – apparently our brains don’t process information in the same way on the computer
- Write a letter to yourself – write as you were to a friend letting them know all that’s happened to you and your thoughts and conclusions about it
- Write a letter to your baby – often we feel guilt to our babies about the way they have been birthed – if this resonates with you then this is helpful. It can be especially helpful when there has been immediate separation post birth. So write about it to your baby – you can burn the letter after – this is only for you to see and act as a therapy – it’s not to be judged, analysed, reviewed, re-read
- Art can be another very therapeutic form – even if you’re not an artist or can’t draw – drawing anything that comes to mind can be helpful too – maybe drawing how you wanted the birth to be or how it was. Again, no one ever needs to see it or analyse it. I found it really useful and I can’t draw anything more than stick men….
SERVICES you can buy:
- Birth debriefing with a doula – it normally last for a couple of hours and will go through everything from the beginning – it’s great if you can access your hospital notes so that you can go through it with them
- Birth Trauma Recovery, EFT or EMDR
- Counselling – I’d suggest Sarah Wheatley from Birth and Beyond
Planning your NEXT birth:
- Go along to your nearest Positive Birth Movement Group.
- Work on your mindset – look at individual Birth Coaching, EFT or specific hypnobirthing for birth trauma
- If positioning has been an issue, look into spinning babies so you can work with your body from 20 weeks to help get a better position – swimming and pregnancy yoga or active birth classes are ideal too
- Hire a doula to support you all the way through – specifically if there have been any special circumstances and helping you to walk through those
I hope that’s helpful. I think often when we’ve had an experience that we didn’t expect, we have this massive amount of baggage to deal with and don’t feel like we can do anything with it. I hope the above can help you to see that actually you can now do a lot to help you to process what’s happened to you. Whilst the memory of having a traumatic birth may still reside in you, these tools and techniques can help to reduce the impact that these may have.
Much love as always, Tricia xxx