33% of women who give birth report it to be a traumatic experience including 1 in 9 who meet the full diagnostic criteria for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Trauma is subjective; it is in the eye of the beholder. If you feel that your birth or reproductive experience was traumatic - it was.
Sometimes we experience trauma as a result of infertility, pregnancy loss, health concerns, near misses (mom or baby), feeling unheard, or feeling dismissed. Sometimes we experience trauma directly related to the birth and reproductive experiences and we work on that in isolation and sometimes the birth and reproductive trauma causes past trauma to resurface, which we can work on as well.
Untreated birth trauma can cause us relive past experiences (flashbacks, nightmares), feel hypervigilant (fell "on guard" as you constantly scan for potential dangers/triggers), avoidance of triggers, feel disconnected from or betrayed by baby/partner/our body. You might grieve preferred outcomes, blame yourself, feel jealously, anger, fear.
Trauma can have a negative impact on how we view ourselves or how we view the world.
Birth Trauma is very treatable.
To treat birth trauma, I use an empirically supported and effective method called EMDR Therapy (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy). What this looks like in therapy is:
- First addressing symptom reduction and making the day-to-day a bit better ASAP. We find coping tools and resources that help manage distress and help you to feel prepared to do deeper trauma processing.
- Understand your experience of trauma and the impact trauma has on the body.
- Identify specific traumatic memories from the birth experience or past trauma to process deeper.
- Process through the traumatic memories so we can stop reliving them. In EMDR therapy, we do this in a way where we are feeling through the memories rather than talking through the memories - this can be a much faster and effective way to process trauma.
- Desensitize painful memories. In other words, we remove the emotional sting from the memories
- Reprocess these memories. In other words, we find more adaptive and healing ways to think about the experiences.
- Because we are feeling this through rather than talking, we are working in the deeper parts of the brain and therefore creating more lasting change and healing.
You deserve to let the past be the past, so you can focus on enjoying your present and future.