I didn’t set out to be the poster girl for birth trauma.
I would have been very happy with a peaceful, straightforward births with fairy lights and lotus flowers. Instead, I got haemorrhages, emergency surgery, wishing that death would come to relieve me of pain, poor early bonding with my baby and a horrendous breastfeeding experience.
Then it happened again. A 5.0kg baby with shoulders like concrete. Two adult arms elbow deep in my birth canal furiously trying to get my baby out in the 3 minutes before hypoxia and injuries would have set in. It’s not fucking fair. I did the research, I did the planning, I hired a doula, I did Hypnobirthing, and I still ended up with two traumatic, dramatic births.
But, where there is an ability there is a responsibility. I am in a privileged position where I have grown tremendously from these experiences. I can speak about birth trauma from both the lived experience and the professional expertise of being a Clinical and Perinatal Psychologist. So, it’s allowed me to move from a place of “it’s not fair” to loving and accepting what is, and seeing that I have a message to share with the world, and if it’s not me who stands up to share it, then who else is going to?
My births changed me so much that they became the conduit to niching down my business. Helping people with birth trauma is all I do now, and I’m very good at what I do. I am a hardcore intuitive empath with an extremely high tolerance for all kinds of pain. My freakish super power is being able to sit and be a vessel for other people’s pain and then helping to shift it.
A debrief is just a start. A chance to take all that pent up emotion and air it without interruption, without judgement, without shame and guilt about what it is you need to say. I’ve heard it all. In all likelihood, it’s going to take more than a one-off debrief. You can’t really learn a new skill or undo years of programming in 90 minutes.
I can tell you this though – your current strategies of trying to forget or distract yourself those images, sounds, thoughts and sensations won’t work. In fact, they are making it worse. I’ve yet to meet anyone who, when told to stop thinking about an unpleasant event actually found this a useful strategy. If I tell you not to think about a pink elephant, like, really, really try not to think about it, chances are you’re going to think about it. Our brains like to process emotional events to make sense of them before letting us file that information away. The more you tell yourself that you shouldn’t think about your negative birth experience, the more those memories are going to pop up when you least expect it. I sometimes liken it to those annoying antivirus pop ups you get on your computer. You can click away and dismiss them for so long, but in the long run, if you want them to stop popping up and bothering you, then you need to give them some attention.
The people who I work with are prepared to do the hard work. To dive in deep, excavate all the ugly, uncomfortable parts of their soul in order to grow, build beautiful resilience and personal power.
You didn’t have to have a traumatic birth in order to grow as a person or find some deeper meaning. Yet, if it wasn’t this experience, I guarantee you it would be something else. Trauma is our biggest teacher, and I can teach you how to use your birth trauma as a conduit for personal power and strength.
That starts with talking about the experience. I can’t ever promise to know how you’re feeling right now. My job during a debrief is to hold space for your pain without asking if it really happened the way you think it did? Without suggesting that maybe it wasn’t really that bad. Without platitudes about silver linings, and everything happening for a reason. No one can argue with you about how you feel. Your birth and how you feel about it is yours to own, so own it.
Trauma is in the eye of the beholder. It’s yours to own. All I ask is that you let me in.
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