This week is birth trauma awareness week. Fittingly, it’s also my due date week of my first (rainbow) baby. I had no idea about birth trauma when I went (12 days beyond my due date) into my birth experience. If I had, perhaps rather than labelling myself a “failure” I would have more kindly labelled myself someone who had been through a traumatic event.
My birth experience hit me like a tonne of bricks. Partly, and perhaps inevitably, it was an expectations vs reality thing. Partly, the events themselves were undoubtedly the most traumatic physical and emotional event that had ever happened to me – three days of labour ending in crash caesarean, where Maurice wasn’t breathing when he was eventually pulled out of me and had to be resuscitated. But… these events although traumatic may not inevitably have left an eternal footprint in my soul had it not also been for the carelessly unkind manner in which I was treated by a small but significant number of people caring for me during my birth experience.
This kind of trauma leaves its imprint by folding itself into your bones, weaving itself into your fibres…swirling seamlessly around your bloodstream. Unless acknowledged and allowed time and space to assimilate and release, it can build up and become visceral, impacting on your function over time like limescale in your kettle.
My coauthor for The Supermum Myth, Dr Rachel Andrew, gave me a quote from a poet which I included in the birth trauma section of the book: Never take a fence down until you know why it’s been built. Trauma is your body’s way of erecting a barbed wire fence around your soul. Protect protect protect. There are ways of taking it down: mindfully, slowly, cautiously, gently. Compassionately.
If you’re not already, please follow the beautiful new campaign led by perinatal mental health psychologists Emma Svanberg and Rebecca Moore, Make Birth Better, which can signpost you to resources to help you or your partner through any trauma you may have experienced.
And remember in your interactions with others: trauma is like a volcano. Someone may look bold, fierce, formidable on the surface. But you never know what is rumbling underneath. Always be kind, compassionate.
How was your experience of birth? If you would like or need to share your experience, please do message me, or contact the Birth Trauma Association where you will find a forum for sharing experiences and connecting with others.
Sending you love xxx