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I'm starting a local birth trauma support group

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
This is cross posted in birth professionals but moderators please don't remove because as a mother who encountered birth trauma I want feedback on how to proceed.

I had a very traumatic birth with my 3rd child and underwent extensive therapy during my 4th pregnancy to get to a healthy point again. There are no support groups for birth trauma in the area. Not even an ICAN. I would like to start one but it will be tricky for me since I have so much birth knowledge(doula, CBe, and midwifery apprentice). I really want this to come from a place of motherhood not as a midwife. I don't want to been seen as coming from my head rather than my heart and also don't want it to seem like I am am fishing for clients. The midwife I had with my 3rd lives locally.Any ideas on how to run it? How to help process? Do you allow people to share names of Doctors and Midwives if you live in a small community?Anything you can add.
post #2 of 9
Me too--I am thinking about starting some sort of birth trauma support group. So tell us, ladies who either know what has worked from experience, or what you'd like to see available. We do have ICAN here--very strong local groups. But not all birth trauma is csec related, as some of you know. Anything you can offer by way of suggestions would be most welcome!
post #3 of 9
I think you have to allow sharing of doctor and mw names in that sort of group. I can't imagine sitting there hearing a story about how this professional did xyz that was awful, and not being worried that they were talking about my professional that would be attending my next birth. I don't think you could reasonably stop it, in all honesty, since women would most likely discuss it outside the group. I think it is a great idea. Good luck starting it.
post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thanks. I thought so as well it is just tricky since my midwife for that birth is still practicing in the area. There has been a lot of trauma though.
post #5 of 9
We don't have support groups around me that I'm aware of, although I haven't extensively searched.

As far as name dropping I would say yes allow it, as long as it's part of a story, but perhaps have a group guideline that prevents total provider bashing at group level. I would be sure people keep it to how they felt wronged for their situation or what the provider did specifically wrong to them and save the bash part for private gossip if they want to discuss it further. I've seen forums even here with anonymous providers mentioned get fast out of hand with complaints-about anything-before they were capped. At any rate, it's no longer healing when it becomes all problem and misery-keep it professional and it will grow strong and be healing.

Just my two cents worth. It's easy for me to go off on our NICU staff and what I hated. Realistically, it's been more healing for me to have gratitude for what i liked and not mention names, because it just begs more questions...jmho/e
post #6 of 9
I think it's a good idea to ask people to be respectful because two different people can have entirely different experiences with the same health care provider, depending on circumstances and what they need. You want a safe space where everyone can share their experiences, and not go around the circle and have the first woman say "Doctor A ruined my life, what an awful human being, he should lose his license" and then have the next woman have to say "Um, well, Doctor A was actually the only one who advocated for me." It might make the second woman less able to feel safe voicing her opinion and her experience if she feels like she's discounting the first woman's opinion and experience. I don't know if that makes sense... this is just a situation I've seen happen.
post #7 of 9
I dunno... i think it should be ok for women to go off on a rant about a provider they feel didn't do them right.

I would just try and have rules and guidelines. Maybe a statement or board up as a sort of UA, acknowledging that provider/patient experiences are complicated and unique... something like that.

I also agree about needing a group like that-- I did have a c-section, but my ICAN group seems so focused on vbac/natural birth. It's just not what I need to get through right now, yk?
post #8 of 9
I've been thinking about this, as I have greatly benefited from a therapy group in the past (not related to birthing issues), but I chose to do individual therapy (up to this point) with regards to my birthing trauma. When you're talking about a group of vulnerable people, I think having a very clear structure is critical to creating safe space for both giving & receiving support.

I would probably benefit from a birth trauma support group if:
* The group was co-led by a therapist experienced in working with survivors of trauma (wouldn't necessarily have to be birth trauma). Having a trusted leader who knows how to handle the intensity of trauma and to help support a positive group dynamic would be really important to me.

* The group had a clear intention that felt like a good fit for me. I would not do well in a group that had the intention of "outing" abusive HCPs. I would do better in a group that had the intention of providing a safe space for sharing stories without judgment.

* The group provided a safe space for sharing without requiring me to "resolve" my issues or figure out who to blame for my trauma. I feel a lot of ambiguity around the events with DD's birth and I see my path as learning to be comfortable with that ambiguity, rather than trying to make everything fit into a cohesive narrative.

* The group had no political agenda. I would not want to see a particular set of birthing choices demonized or idealized in a general way. I would not want to feel that I could only belong to the group if I agreed to a certain political stance related to birth.

It has been over 2 years since my daughter was born, and I don't think I would have been able to handle a support group during the first year after her birth. I was just so freaked out and so emotionally raw (from the sleep deprivation as well as the trauma) and I don't think I would have had the capacity to listen to others' stories. Now it's different...I think I have a better chance of being able to both give & receive support from a group.
post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thank your for your feedback and I agree.
This group will be a safe place. Care providers names will not be used. If someone is interested they can contact the individual out of the meeting. We are also in a smaller area so it would be difficult to keep hints about who the care provider is completely out of the situation. This will be a place of story sharing with no interruptions and no judgment. The goal is not to find blame in the process just support. That is one reason I have closed the meeting to birth professionals. No marketing or 5 doulas watching one poor woman share her story. I am working on all my credentials for working with trauma. I am a midwife and have a degree in psychology and am undergoing special training in 2011 to become even better with addressing trauma. I really hope it will be a positive experience. Most of the women who have contacted me their babies from trauma are at least a year. I wasn't ready to deal with my own trauma until my baby was 2.

I just feel an urgent need as some changes are coming to the community with a ban of doulas from the hospital ( to be exact they are blaming the flu and saying only one person can accompany mom and that of course is usually dad) and a birthing center is opening up which might sound like a great thing but the midwives that are opening it have a history of leaving severely traumatized women. The number of women they serve will just increase with the center and I can't do anything to stop them so all I can offer is to be there during the fall out to help any women who need it. I will have professional references for those who need more than this group can provide. I will be running this as a woman not a birth professional. I plan to not share what I do in the community or my own birth story as to not influence anything.
Thanks so much for your feedback. If you think of anything else let me know. Our first meeting is the 16th of November.
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