What is birth trauma and does what happened to me count?
People often associate the word trauma with major disasters or catastrophic losses, but the reality is trauma can occur any time your body experiences fight, flight or freeze and is unable to process and release that experience. Birth trauma can occur any time you felt you were not heard or supported in your choices during your labour and birth experience or if birth happened in an unexpected way that you weren’t mentally, emotionally or physically prepared for. Unfortunately, this is very common in our modern society. The medical model treats birth as a medical event that needs to be managed and not as a natural process that should be trusted. In many cases our care providers have a mentality of fear around birth which is often placed on an expectant mother. When this occurs, as birthing women we sometimes forget or dismiss that primal and instinctual connection to our bodies that tells us to trust birth.
Birth trauma often coincides with feelings of losing control over your body, your baby and ultimately, your birth experience. Important to note is that everyone experiences trauma in different ways and in varying degrees. If you are feeling distress over your experience, that is valid and it counts 💜.
Here are some *sadly* very common circumstances that can lead to feelings ranging from dissatisfaction all the way to feeling completely traumatized:
*Lengthy labour or short and very painful labour
*Poor pain relief
* Emergency deliveries: e.g. emergency caesarean section birth, forcepts or vaccum delivery
*Manual removal of placenta
*Lack of information/ explanation/ consent
*Lack of privacy and dignity
*Birth of an injured baby – a disability resulting from birth trauma
*Baby’s stay in NICU
*Previous history of trauma * this could include your own birth experience*
*Feeling loss of control
*Feelings of shame/ disappointment that your body didn’t birth naturally or as you expected.
*Impersonal treatment or problems with medical staff’s attitudes
*Not being listened to
*Fear for baby’s well-being
*Poor postnatal care
What’s important to remember is that your feelings surrounding your experience are valid no matter how your birth occurred. This point is worth repeating! If you are feeling stuck, hurt, sad, angry or unable to process the experience, you deserve to do this work for yourself and your babe. Now take a deep breath in and release 💞
“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky, conscious breathing is my anchor“
Thich Nhat Han
Music Copyright © Beth Martens