I have been thinking a lot lately about my birth; specifically how it made me feel. It has now been 498 days since my son was born, and while I feel I have moved forward I still have moments where I just stand still. Because of my relationship with my birth I faced a lot of trauma, and suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. With a balance of support both personal movements (yoga, meditation, EFT) and professional support (therapy mostly) I feel I have slowly moved to a place where I can finally talk about my birth story.
I was going to write it here, but instead I will make a second post on a later date. Instead I will write some information about birth trauma that I have been working on for a project I am running.
25% of mothers say they experienced their childbirth experience as traumatic or disempowering. So, then what contributes a traumatic birth experience? According to Cheryl Beck (Nursing Research January/February 2004 Vol 53, No.1) “Birth trauma is in the eye of the beholder” because one person’s trauma is another person’s perfect birth.” And while some moms would be thankful for a caesarean other feel this is very scary and hard to cope with. An experience involving the threat of death or serious injury to an individual or another person close to them (e.g. their baby).
The Canadian Institute of Health Information’s analysis of inpatient hospitalizations last year shows that giving birth remained the most common reason for hospitalization in Canada: more than 366,000 hospitalizations were due to childbirth in 2016–2017. (www.cihi.ca, 2018) And while cesarean births are 28.2 per cent of births, birth traumas are also evident in vaginal births due to tearing, hemorrhaging and babies having low to no stats after.
Some contributors to a traumatic birth according to the Birth Trauma Association are:
Cesarean sections (unplanned or emergency) – being tied down, being put under, having baby taken without any conversations first.
Medical interventions without consent or prep.
The use of a vacuum
The use of forceps
Hemorrhaging after birth
Baby being delivered too quickly
Baby being delivered after a prolonged time
For the most part, the reason for Birth Trauma is that the mother was not heard, there were choices made without her feeling involved, or someone lead her astray in the health or medical field.
Bad memories and the need to avoid any reminders of the trauma, will often result in difficulties with sleeping and concentrating. Sufferers may also feel angry, irritable and be hyper vigilant (feel jumpy or on their guard all the time). A response of intense fear, helplessness or horror to that experience may create PTSD, Depressions, Anxiety, Psychosis as well as distancing self from baby or others.
Try to leave birth stories out of the conversation, or until a few weeks/a few sessions in. Its important to create an inclusive safe environment where the parents can be vulnerable but also supports families who need to be heard.
Another time then.