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  1. #1
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    Default Steps to healing from Birth Trauma

    I just wonder if other mums who have worked through birth trauma can share the steps they took to do so, so others can get an idea that their is a light at the end of the tunnel.

    Having developed PTSD after my 3rd c/sec, sweeping the issues under the carpet for them only to re-emerge magnified x10 as soon as i got pregnant this time, I knew that I had to take steps to rescue my life for the sake of my children, my husband and the baby I was bringing into the world. I really had lost control of my life, and felt my life was over. I suffered severe social anxiety, because frankly, I felt too much of a failure to associate with the outside world.

    After my c/sec with #3, I tried, as most of us do, to just get on with it and be happy that I had a healthy child and that his passage into the world was irrelevant, and I should just move on. I remember DH saying to me, 'the birth is over, just move on'. This seemed to be the general consensus of those around me. Noone wanted to talk about it. I had just been through what felt like a car crash, and I had to just put it behind me and get on with life with a smile on my face of gratefulness.

    Now, we are all 100% grateful of our healthy babies, this goes without saying. But for those who have had a traumatic birth, how we have been made to feel about ourselves leaves a psycological scar which runs very deep. I felt like I had been treated like some diseased cancer that had to be removed from my poor child. Neglected, alone and considered selfish for experiencing any pain after having had major surgery, my baby whisked away by the hero nurses and pediatricians to have it's first bath and dressing and soothing words and cuddles. Mummy was not deemed worthy enough to fulfil this first priviledge and bonding exercise. It is our first experience with our child's 'mothering', and we are deemed unfit to do it.

    Our babies need physically and mentally healthy mummies to look after them properly. I believe this is the core of our traumatic experiences. As mothers of such healthy babies, we still want to give them 100% of ourselves, and to be in a situation whereby we cant give them this leaves us with alot of guilt and we mourn the loss of those precious first moments.

    I think as a number 1, we have to recognise that we have experienced trauma, and dont let the guilt-mongers guilt you into feeling like you are selfish for feeling this way. What you wanted for your birth and for your newborn are your instincts - and were based on you wanting to provide the best possible environment for your child's entry to the world. This has been denied you, and it is pointless trying to sweep it under the carpet, as I personally found out, it only comes back to haunt you, and it is bigger and more frightening down the track.

    number 2. You need to talk about it. You need to make sense of it. Avoid talking about it to those who dont understand though. I would suggest a birth trauma group, a counsellor, a psycologist or a friend/family member that you know for sure would understand your point of view. Coming to this section of Bubhub is a great start . Once it is out in the open, like anything, it feels like you are sharing the load, rather than trying to bare it all alone in secrecy. It won't fester so much if you share it, as it festered with me and grew out of control, as I didnt deal with it and nib it in the bud early on. After seeing a psycologist and joining my c/sec healing group, I finally felt like I'd recieved oxygen and that I wasnt trying to keep myself from drowning anymore. I felt like a fully fledged legitimate worthy member of the human race again. I wasnt alone, and I wasnt abnormal

    number 3. After talking it over, you can come to recognise that you did deserve a more dignified experience surrounding the birth of your child, and you can recognise that in fact you did the best at the time with all the knowledge you had. No, the past cant be changed, but it can be viewed as a sacred part of your life journey where you grew and gained more understanding about yourself and about life. We can, after all, change our attitude to the past. In my personal experience, I now see each birth I've experienced as part of a journey. I have learnt 'what went well', 'what went not so well' and 'what would I do differently'.

    that takes me to number 4. 'what would I do differently?'. As I look ahead to the next birth of my baby, I have spent most of my time concentrating on this question. I also recognise that things still may not go according to plan, but at least this time, beforehand, I know that I am making these decisions based on the best knowledge that I posess at this time of my life. I recognise that these beliefs could change, and I recognise that after this birth I may again need to ask myself the questions 'what went well', 'What went not so well' and 'What would I do differently next time'. But in the meantime I know that this time I will take an active role to create an 'empowered' birth, whatever that might be - and the outcome of course, is not in my control, but I can make efforts to demand my rights as the mother of my child, and what I feel my child and I need in this birth, to at least facilitate an environment which is most optimal to achieving the outcome I want. Even if you are not planning another birth, you can still go through these questions in your head, and forgive yourself for the decisions you did make previously, and that in fact you should feel proud that you did do everything you thought you could at the time. We even get to the point where we can forgive those who didnt respect the birth we wanted for our babies, as they too were just doing the best they could with the knowledge they had back then.

    Number 5.....looking to the future.....recognise that you can make changes for the better. Educate yourself, question the status quo, find out how you can create a better environment the next time round. (if you want a next time round :-)!). Remember to learn about having faith in yourself, and your body. This is a really important ingredient to moving forward. Have faith that everything will turn out the way it is meant to - because you really are motivated from a desire to do what is best for your baby, and that is what you are basing your choices on. When what you do is motivated by love, then what you are doing can't be wrong! You are a good mamma to your bubba/s!!


    I am really excited about my upcoming birth. I am not expecting things to stubbornly go to plan, but I am expecting to have an empowered birth nevertheless. I have figured out what went well in my past births. I will endeavour to do again what went well, this time round. I have done everything in my power to eliminate the negative forces that came into play last time round - the 'what went not so wells'. And I have decorated my plans with other great ideas that I have learnt since - the what will I do differently part.

    So, when I am able to tell my birth story in a few weeks time, I dont predict that it will be a story about a vbac, or a story about a hbac, or a story about a c/sec etc. But I can predict that an empowered birth story is what you will read. Whatever will be will be - but I guarantee that I will be doing everything in my power to create a sacred, dignified and respectful environment into which my little precious one will make his grand entrance into!


    Sooo....does anyone else have any other ideas for healing? Please share your stories of healing after trauma, and the steps you took to do so......and if I have missed any important points above, please add them to this thread....

    to you all, you are all amazing, beautful birthing women

  2. #2
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    Hey Bec,

    I hadn't really thought this through as formally as you obviously have, but I have come to similar conclusions. Except with regard to the subtext of your first point - while I agree that it was a trauma, the situation is different for all people. I don't feel traumatised by the birth, as such, but by the events that followed for some seemingly innocuous events during the birth - if that makes sense?

    If not, here it is - everything that happened that I felt traumatised by started occuring 4 days after DD was born. It just so happened that I later realised that these trauma had occured because of things that happened during the birth - things that, at the time, I felt I had control of (ie I actively chose to have an epidural - I later found out this could very well be the reason I was vomitting, and certainly could have been the catalyst to further and further medical intervention. At the time, i wrongly believed myself to be educated, and felt that I was making an informed decision). So in effect, I got the birth experience that I chose. Not the one I necessarily wanted, but until I better educated myself, I didn't regret any of my decisions, because they had been freely made.

    Other than that (sorry long-winded!) disagreement - I agree with every single other point you made.

    As for point no2 - I never really had anybody I could talk to about this until BH. My DH just thinks we're lucky to have both me and DD healthy and here (I think I really scared him at one point - feverish, delirious, morphine, hallucinating and vomitting - I can imagine that he thought I was going to die. Hell, I thought I was going to die!) and would prefer to forget the whole thing. I did see a psychologist, but we addressed my childhood issues with my mother's parenting, not my birthing experience. I did have a debriefing session run by a seemingly incompetant midwife, who wanted to put a happy face on everything - so what was the point of a debrief? So when I come here and talk about it, particularly when I'm offered so many alternative points of view - particuluarly with regard to points 3 4 + 5 on your list - I feel empowered again.

    As for the rest - that's where I'm at. Recognising what I didn't like, educating myself better, planning for future births, and moving forward.

    Slowly but surely I'm feeling like a real person again.

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    Thanks Clarabelle!

    I suppose with point 1 I could reword it to say recognising that we have experienced something about our child's birth for which we need to heal from.....no matter what stage we were at when it occured...

    You seem to be like me in that you have looked over what happened and recognised what you would do differently given another chance.....there are so many things that I wish I'd done, and totally beat myself up over - I mean, I'd been reading up about natural childbirth non-stop throughout my 3rd pregnancy, and I think I felt the greatest failure because I couldnt fight my corner strongly enough (tho, who can fight their corner in the throes of labour??), and ended up being subjected to the hospital protocols regardless. I look back though, now, and realise that I did the best I could, but I still had a lesson to learn......there were areas which I'd left open for weakness as I was not assertive enough to stand up for my desire to, for example, employ a doula. I felt like an idiot for not doing it, but my husband was against paying someone to do this job, even though I knew that the benefits would have helped me enormously, and I submitted to this. So this time in my birth I am demanding things despite how my husband has reacted to this sudden assertiveness that he hasnt witnessed in me before - it has been difficult for him, but he is slowly understanding my desire to metamorphisise into a stronger person for my own good mental health....

    I think converting an experience that has caused us sorrow into an exercise for learning and growth is part of the healing process.....another thing I think we women have to do is give ourselves time....and realise that at least by getting up and making changes for the better we are not sitting back remaining victims of the past. We are making something good out of something that felt bad. Like a rectification of the past.

    I dont regret anything anymore from my past births - I see them as learning experiences in my birthing journey.....learning from trial and error.....

    Modern women dont have the luxury that women had in the past of witnessing many many births of mothers, aunts, sisters, friends etc.....once upon a time women kinda knew what to expect from the vast spectrum of different types of births they had observed. In this day and age, we pretty much go into childbirth blind - the only information most women have is from watching birth on the telly and hearing horror stories from fear-mongers! So it is no wonder some of us walk away from a birth being disappointed and in other cases totally traumatised, despite doing everything we thought was right at the time. We have no real experience to base our decisions on - just advice from people whom we assume we can trust. It hurts most when we realise that, though they had good intentions, unfortunately their advice has let us down.

    Again, it comes down to forgiving ourselves and recognising that we did the best we could at that time with what we knew then. Even though the outcome caused us sorrow - we can still reassure ourselves that we did everything we could during the process out of love and concern for our little bubbas. Noone can ever dispute that - no matter what happened when you brought your baby into the world, everything was motivated by love. The fact that we care about it and wish things went differently just goes to show how we only want the best for our children! It shows what excellent mammas we truly are

  4. #4
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    Absolutely. But its the whole mothering experience, not just the childbirth that we go into blind these days - ie the last woman before myself who I saw breastfeeding, was my mother when my brother was born - he's four years younger than me, and was weaned at 12 months. I mean, I'd seen other women breastfeeding, but not actually observed them if you know what I mean - you tend to avert your gaze as though its something to be ashamed of.

    Anyway, I digress.

    I absolutely agree that you have to take something positive, turn it into a learning experience, for you to be able to heal from it. I imagine there are some people who do the ostrich head-in-the-sand act and never really heal from their birth traumas - and I guess this is where you're right in point 1 - people don't really think you should be traumatised by birthing if you have a healthy baby at the end of it. I don't know about you, but whenever I tried to talk to anybody about my experience, the most common response was "Oh, well. At least your baby is healthy". Well, yes, that is fantastic, but it's like saying to a car crash victim "Oh, well. At least you're alive". Okay, not quite in the same category - but you get the picture. I just think there's a complete lack of understanding.

    I was talking to DH about this the other day - we'll be starting to TTC #2 sometime next year, and I was discussing my birthing options. I'm determined to have a home, lotus, birth next time - but I have some convincing to do. We as a society have made birth a throuroughly medical experiece. I find it completely bizzarre that you go to hospital to have a baby - for goodness sake, hosiptals are for sick people! And its so ingrained that if you tell people you plan to birth at home - they look at you like you're an alien.

    I just think that its about time that women start taking control of ourselves, and our bodies. When did it become normal to set time limits on a healthy pregnancy? If a menstrual cycle length can vary, why not a gestation length? Who decided that 10 days past an arbitrary due date was IT and a pregnancy was in danger past this point? Since educating myself better about these issues, I really struggle to understand how we have allowed a natural process to become what it is. I mean, great, I'm all for the development of technology to preserve lives where possible - but when did it become the norm for that technology to interfere - to the detriment of all involved, I might add - in a process that has, of necessity, been going on since humans existed?!

    We're a very strange species.

    Anyway, I've rabbitted on enough! Thanks for the thoughts, and the vents, Bec!

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    Default mum2jay,shay,em.

    What enlightening posts! Thanks Clarabelle and Becca , you have given me some insight into my confusion surrounding my traumatic birth experience.

    I have been see-sawing over the last 2 years between grief for my trauma and gratitude for precious life - both mine and my daughter's.

    My bub's dramatic entrance into the world was tainted by my massive haemorrhage (30 litres lost) and emergency hysterectomy. I somehow survived against the odds and awoke to find I had a 2 day old baby girl and no uterus. At the time I was filled with gratitude and love for my baby and didn't care less about my physical wound, or imagine that I had an emotional wound to wrestle with. I had the love and support of the maternity staff and family and friends who I hadn't realised cared so much. There wasn't enough space in my room for all of the flowers and cards!

    Then I was home. Facing the reality of a long recovery. What kept me going and gave me strength was the belief that I had survived for a reason and needed to focus on my gratitude for my baby and my life. But as mothers do, I gave my energy to my family, soldiered on through any grief that arose and basically put a bandaid on my suffering. And not wanting to be a whinger or ungrateful, to this day I still listen to the grief of others with genuine compassion while I stuff down my own.

    My recovery has been boringly long and I am still on anti-depressants. But who has the time to indulge in grief when there is washing to be done, kids to get to school, and endless stories of others' grief and loss.
    You see, I have a loving husband, 3 delightful children and food on the table. In the scheme of things, does my traumatic birth really matter? I'm still here with the precious knowledge that when life hangs in the balance, what is important is the day to day simplicities that you share with your family. Life and love. Not labour.

    But who knows, maybe I'm deluded and in denial? And I guess I am still fighting the battle between wanting support for my half shared grief and focusing on my gratitude.

    Needless to say, I think as women and mothers it's essential for us to be supportive and non-judgemental of one another. We are all sisters, daughters and mothers in some regard, and in the end we are all one and the same.

    Thanks for listening.

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    survivamum - Lots of these sent your way

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    Quote Originally Posted by survivamum

    Needless to say, I think as women and mothers it's essential for us to be supportive and non-judgemental of one another. We are all sisters, daughters and mothers in some regard, and in the end we are all one and the same.
    Wow, what a huge and difficult journey you have had to take, I am in awe of you, as it is such a heavy experience to endure....and it is true what you say - as women, we are all in this together, we are all truly magnificent for what we all achieve and endure - huge to you, and healing vibes to your soul....

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    Thanks Becca. Love and happiness to you and your 4 boys.

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    Just thought I'd bump up this thread....
    i'm not able to get on line much at the mo (DH on hols from works, and he needs entertaining )

    So for you beautiful women here who need healing inspiration, I hope this is of help....and to those who are down the healing track, please add ideas!!

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    I just wanted to say thanks for this thread. I had a little cry while reading, as I relived my nightmare.

    I found that when I wanted to talk and explain to people what Id been through they either glazed over and thought "oh a drama queen" or that I was lying etc - so I stopped telling people and talking about it. By the time DS was 9-10 months old I was a mess inside and was put on anti depressants. Only my partner and my best friend & internet friends know, I havent told family at all. I feel like a failure and am a very proud person and I think my pride stops me from telling my family that I was diagnosed PND.

    Im also petrified(sp?) of having any more kids. I joke with people and tell them that if I fell pregnant that they need to knock me out and wake me when the baby is 5. I certainly could not go through a VB and would insist on a c/sect, but even that scares me.

    When I read the bit about having those first moments of motherhood taken away - it broke my heart all over again. I still get upset and cry about missing out on so much. Things also snowballed for me, one thing caused another etc and I ended up getting no milk at all so couldnt breastfeed either.

    TO make matters worse I have no trust or faith in Dr's or hospitals anymore are the numerous stuff ups I had to endure and also my poor baby. The hospital and numerous Drs afterwards, failed to pick up that DS had major dislocations and fractures caused by the birth. It wasnt till her was 4 months old that we discovered that he had: a dislocated shoulder, 2 fractured ribs, dislocated and rotated hips. It was the reason he screammed 24/7, why he's scream when you picked him up or burped him, why he would scream if layed on his back, why he'd hold his breath and cry when you'd lift his legs up to change a nappy. 6 months of intense therapy later he could sit up, touch his feet, crawl, walk etc. But it was 6 months of hell - screaming and no sleep.

    I honestly dread the thought of another baby that could be damaged that much because of the birth process and incompetance of medical staff.

    Im still really angry about my experience and my sons experience and dont know how to move past that anger and hurt.

    Sorry that this post didnt make much sense - I am a little emotional after reading everything and this is all pouring out.

    Thanks,
    Kelly


 

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