HEALING BIRTH TRAUMA
Why do some women appear withdrawn, anxious, or disconnected after giving birth, or are terrified to do it again? Experiences of violation, humiliation, disempowerment, and domination in the place of birth may have direct connection with how you are feeling. Are you struggling to find peace with your birth experience, and seem to keep reliving the horror you felt inside yourself?
Birth trauma and postpartum PTSD are as real as someone involved in an accident or crime. The amount of credit and understanding afforded to you however, may be much less, along with messages that you should “get over it,” and “just be grateful your child is healthy.”
Yes, having a healthy child at the end of a birthing experience no matter what form the birth took is certainly important. But it’s not the only thing that is important. Your experience as a mother in the birthing process can deeply impact your ability to adjust, bond, and meet the demands of your new baby.
When highly invasive interventions are used to remove the baby from its mother, it can affect the mother’s ability to feel bonded with her child. In addition to drugs, sensation blockers, and losing a tremendous amount of blood and/or fluids, many times the mother is unavailable to give her milk, smell, warmth, and attentiveness the child needs and craves. This can cause a break in the initial bonding period, but may continue as the mother struggles to recuperate through the first few months of the baby’s life.
Some women who have experienced some sort of invasive violation trauma in the past may be especially affected. Molestation, rape, incest, and previous medical procedures may increase your sensitivity and likelihood of developing postpartum PTSD. The degree to which you have healed and been able to move on from these past experiences will also contribute.
Persistent flashbacks and extreme sensitivity to retelling the event are definite indicators that you are suffering from this syndrome and need to receive proper treatment and understanding. Perhaps your experience of violation and mistrust with the medical community has left you unwilling to reach out for support. Having a compassionate, accepting, and non-dominating connection with a therapist is a vital component to the healing process, and this is a definite area in your life where you have power and choice. It is perfectly okay to interview a few therapists to find the right fit for you. Feeling heard, understood, and supported in exploring choices with your therapist is a good place to start.
–copyright © 2015 Jennifer Norstrom, LMFT