Did one or more of your births not go the way you had hoped and planned? Perhaps, you experienced complications. Maybe you trusted the medical staff, but they created an unpleasant experience for you. There are so many variables involved in birth, which is why so many women end up with birth trauma.
Birth trauma is real. Your feelings and experience are valid. They matter. Birth trauma is not something that’s acknowledged or talked about nearly enough, but in honor of Maternal Mental Health Week, I’m doing my part to bring awareness to this issue as someone who experienced birth trauma herself. I’ve been there. It’s hard, and for many mamas, the trauma could have been avoided if the medical model for women giving birth was not so antiquated.
Trauma and Postpartum Depression/Anxiety
Trauma can be any negative life experience. The key factor is how you experience the event. Having a traumatic birth experience can trigger postpartum depression, anxiety, and/or other perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMAD’s). It can also reignite past trauma as well. For new moms, it’s probably the worst as you are navigating parenthood for the first time. Either way, it can negatively effect the bonding between mama and baby as well as the babies first years of life. If you have experienced birth trauma, here are 4 tips to help you cope.
4 Tips On Coping With Birth Trauma
- Acknowledge it. Sometimes this step is really hard. We know in our heads what happened but to label it as trauma can be difficult. You may try to avoid thinking or talking about what happened because of the feeling of anger, rage, and/or sadness that creep up. You may feel like a failure. Avoiding negative feelings is a no-win situation. Those feelings bubble up one way or the other and find a way to release themselves at some point. You are not a failure for what happened. Acknowledging it is a way to say, “it’s there, now what do I do with it?”
- Tell your story. Share your birth story in one or more ways. Journaling and blogging are great ways to put what happened into words and on paper (or keyboard). This allows your brain to unload it for one, and two, it gives your brain opportunity to process the event. The power of journaling is huge. Sometimes you have to nudge yourself to do it, but your brain and body benefit from the fact that you are giving yourself a way to deal with what happened instead of just carrying that weight around.
- Affirm yourself. Okay, mama, what is something you can tell yourself that helps you feel empowered when you think back about your birth experience? Is there a quote or scripture that resonates with you as a women and mama? You can even create your own by simply finishing this sentence: “I am_____________________________.” Here’s a few examples: “I am in control of my choices and my life.” “I am powerful.” “I am doing my best.” I”m an amazing mom.”
My 4th tip is all about seeking more support. If you find yourself really struggling with what you experienced during one or more of your births, it’s okay. You are normal. Even if the birth happened months or years ago, it matters. Sometimes you need additional support to help you move past what took place. There are many therapist that specialize in trauma and women’s issues, like myself. Reach out to chat about how I can help and to make sure I’m the best fit for you.
Your birth may not have gone the way you wanted, but the fact is you birthed a tiny human into existence. You carried that tiny, precious life in your womb and gave your baby life. Every baby is a miracle, plain and simple. You are strong and nothing short of a warrior, mama. Sending you lots of love from one mama to another.