First of all, you are an amazing brave and strong woman. No matter what happened in your birth. But let’s talk about what birth trauma is.
Birth trauma is a word that is often used, but many women wonder if their birth was “bad enough” to be considered traumatic. Birth Trauma is defined as distress experienced by a mother during or after childbirth. While trauma can be physical, it is often emotional and psychological. Birth trauma is not just about what happened during labor and the birth. It can also refer to how you, as the mother, are left feeling afterwards. Birth can be beautiful and it can be complicated. No matter what you experienced, if you continue to have vivid disturbing images of your birth (no matter how small or big) you may be suffering from birth trauma. Did you know it is estimated that 1 in 3 women will experience birth trauma?
Birth Trauma can include:
(but not limited to this list)
- Unwanted induction
- Having things done to your body that you did not want
- Pressure to agree to a procedure
- Cord being wrapped around baby’s neck
- Not having an epidural take effect
- Tearing and other physical complications
- Retained placenta and/or placenta hemorrhage
- HELP syndrome
- High blood pressure
- Baby’s heart rate dropping
- Need for oxygen or life saving measures
- High stress in the delivery
You are not to blame
and you should feel no shame in how you feel. Many women struggle when their birth plan did not go as planned, when they had to have a c-section or have more medical intervention than desired. Most of the time the end result is good and a healthy baby is born. However, this does not mean that you were ok with how the birth happened. It is ok to feel regret or anger or fear when you think about your birth, and especially if it was difficult, traumatic, or scary.
You may be triggered by a sound, smell, taste or experience that takes you right back to your birth. Your body stores these experiences and you may have a flash back to the room or a person.
Healing From Birth Trauma
Therapy is the one of the best ways to heal from birth trauma. Having a therapist who is trained as a Perinatal Mental Health Therapist is vital to you making the most progress in healing from your traumatic birth. You can ask your doctor, friend, midwife or doula for a referral or go to https://www.postpartum.net for a list of trained providers in your area. You will be able to tell your story and learn ways to cope and process your experience so you can heal.
EMDR is also an amazing therapy to help with birth trauma. I have seen many women process their traumatic birth and go on to hold the good parts of their birth and not feel afraid of giving birth again. I have seen anxiety decrease significantly and the triggers disappear. What a relief! For more information about EMDR and how it can help, you can visit my EMDR page on my website. https://thenestfamilytherapy.com/emdr-therapy-orange-county/
I feel privileged and honored to hear women’s stories and help them to heal. My biggest desire is for you to live free from the trauma of your birth and feel whole and well again and to be able to be the best mom to your baby and family.
If you are anything like me, you are wondering how long this social distancing is going to last. Being stuck at home with kids who are sad and angry that they cannot go to school, play at the park or with friends is starting to take its toll. This is hard! And being a mom during this time is really hard! Especially if you have young kids who don’t understand what is happening and ask a lot of questions about why they can’t do their favorite activities. I thought I would compile a few ideas on how to make sure you are not being too hard on yourself as a mom during this time.
If you enjoy social media and scrolling through instagram or facebook, that is fine. But if you are finding that it is making you feel like you are not being a very good mom, then limit your exposure. You are doing your best! Let your best be good enough!
Look for one thing that went well during the day and focus on that. Focus on what you can control in your daily life. Exercise, eating well, treating yourself to something you enjoy, and washing your hands. Don’t focus on how much screen time you let your kids have, how you lost your cool during home schooling (which you probably did not choose to do), how you did not spend enough time with your kids doing fun activities. Let yourself be ok with one thing that went well. If more went well, then celebrate that! It is all about the small things right now!
2. Strive for “Good Enough” Not Perfect.
You need to remember you are entertaining toddlers and kids, trying to stay indoors and keep them occupied. You are home schooling and trying to juggle several kids most likely. What can you let go of? Don’t feel like you need your child to finish all the work that was assigned. Your relationship with your kids is the most important thing right now! Strive to get through this with your kids knowing they were loved and had more time with you, even if it was not always ideal. Let your kids watch educational TV instead of doing the worksheet. If you are overwhelmed with helping them get all their work done, let it go. Your kids will remember how they felt during this time, not what they learned. They can catch up when life is in a more normal rhythm.
3. Be Gentle With Yourself.
If you are feeling like a failure or having negative thoughts about yourself, let them go. Recognize them and then let them float away on a cloud. They are not helpful right now. Accept the fact that you are parenting during a very traumatic time that is affecting everyone in your family and community, including you. Re-frame the negative thought of “I’m a failure” (or fill in the blank) to “I’m having the thought that I’m a failure.” This will help you to let it go and not let it define you. Try changing your negative thought to “I’m doing the best I can right now.” Or “I’m doing pretty darn well right now.” There is a lot less support right now – no babysitters for a break, no school to drop them off at and no ability to do many fun activities and see friends. It can feel very lonely and isolating. This is hard!
My reminder to you today is that this will end at some point. We need to focus on keeping ourselves and our families healthy and safe. We will get back to a new normal but right now there are some ways to get through this.
Try to find a few times a day where you feel joy. Whatever that may be. For me, it has been cooking or baking for my family and trying new recipes. I also try to get outside daily if the weather permits. Breathe deep from your belly and try to relax your body. Go for walks and smell the spring air, flowers and hear the birds. Be mindful of the here and now and be grateful for this time to slow down even though it comes with stress, anxiety and some fear. You are not alone.
You can do this brave Mamas!