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EMDR for birth trauma?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

Has anyone tried this type of therapy for birth trauma? My son is 15-months-old and I'm STILL obsessing over every detail of the disappointment of his birth all the time. I'm so tired of it, and looking for something else to try.  I've been seeing a therapist who specializes in PPD (I was never officially diagnosed, though I clearly met/meet many criteria) since he was tiny, which has helped, but it's still very present in my day-to-day life and it's making me miserable. It sounds like this is often useful for processing traumatic events.  

 

http://www.emdrnetwork.org/description.html

 

Thanks!  

post #2 of 10

EMDR is an excellent treatment for birth trauma.  I suggest you seek an EMDR-Certified therapist immediately for relief of your symptoms.  Go to EMDRIA.org and Find a Therapist to locate an appropriate EMDR-trained therapist in your area.  I also suggest you read Getting Past Your Past, by Francine Shapiro, the developer of EMDR, to understand how your brain processes trauma.  Hope this helps to point you further in the direction of your healing process.

post #3 of 10

There is excellent research on using EMDR for PPD and the repair of maternal bonding after birth-related trauma. I'm a therapist who uses EMDR as my primary method and I've also personally had EMDR therapy for my anxiety (regular old anxiety), performance anxiety, and grief. As a client, EMDR worked extremely well and also really fast (just a few sessions) on my problems. I have used EMDR successfully for clients with PTSD, anxiety issues, depression, PPD, grief, body image, phobias, panic attacks, distressing memories, and bad dreams. And probably more stuff that I can't remember at the moment.  Read Dr. Shapiro's new book "Getting Past Your Past: Take Control of Your Life with Self-Help Techniques from EMDR." Dr. Shapiro is the founder/creator of EMDR (but all the proceeds from the book go to two charities: the EMDR Humanitarian Assistance Program and the EMDR Research Foundation). Anyway, the book is terrific! It's an easy read, helps you understand what's "pushing" your feelings and behavior, helps you connect the dots from past experiences to current life. Also gives lots of really helpful ways that are used during EMDR therapy to calm disturbing thoughts and feelings.  

Also, there is a ton of great research proving EMDR's efficacy and it is considered a first-line treatment by organizations such as ISTSS (International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation), American Psychiatric Assoc, Amer Psychological Assoc, Dept of Veteran Affaires, Dept of Defense, Departments of Health in Northern Ireland, UK, Israel, the Netherlands, France, and other countries and organizations. I can't say enough good things about EMDR. It's changed my life both as a person/consumer, and as a therapist. It's so satisfying to have someone come in for help and then to witness them get through their issues and finish therapy relatively quickly (compared to regular talk therapy, it's like night and day). I am both humbled by and grateful for this wonderful method that heals suffering.

post #4 of 10

There is excellent research on using EMDR for PPD and the repair of maternal bonding after birth-related trauma. I'm a therapist who uses EMDR as my primary method and I've also personally had EMDR therapy for my anxiety (regular old anxiety), performance anxiety, and grief. As a client, EMDR worked extremely well and also really fast (just a few sessions) on my problems. I have used EMDR successfully for clients with PTSD, anxiety issues, depression, PPD, grief, body image, phobias, panic attacks, distressing memories, and bad dreams. And probably more stuff that I can't remember at the moment.  Read Dr. Shapiro's new book "Getting Past Your Past: Take Control of Your Life with Self-Help Techniques from EMDR." Dr. Shapiro is the founder/creator of EMDR (but all the proceeds from the book go to two charities: the EMDR Humanitarian Assistance Program and the EMDR Research Foundation). Anyway, the book is terrific! It's an easy read, helps you understand what's "pushing" your feelings and behavior, helps you connect the dots from past experiences to current life. Also gives lots of really helpful ways that are used during EMDR therapy to calm disturbing thoughts and feelings.  

Also, there is a ton of great research proving EMDR's efficacy and it is considered a first-line treatment by organizations such as ISTSS (International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation), American Psychiatric Assoc, Amer Psychological Assoc, Dept of Veteran Affaires, Dept of Defense, Departments of Health in Northern Ireland, UK, Israel, the Netherlands, France, and other countries and organizations. I can't say enough good things about EMDR. It's changed my life both as a person/consumer, and as a therapist. It's so satisfying to have someone come in for help and then to witness them get through their issues and finish therapy relatively quickly (compared to regular talk therapy, it's like night and day). I am both humbled by and grateful for this wonderful method that heals suffering.

post #5 of 10

I tried this, and it helped some but was not the cure-all I was hoping for. I had had a lot of regular therapy first but had gotten kind of stuck. You want to interview the provider carefully though, because I think part of the problem is I ended up butting heads with the provider about birthing stuff.

post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thank you all so much for this feedback. I am reading a lot about this method and hoping it will be helpful for me.

Somelady, I talked to my therapist about this today and she had the same concern--she said that a lot of the therapists who do this work are not in the "birth world" and might be minimizing or dismissive of the birth experience I had, which objectively was not horrible, but was very much not what I wanted and prepared for. She gave me the name of someone local who does both EMDR and counseling for postpartum issues, so I will see how it goes. I'm in the same place you are/were--15 months of therapy, which has been useful in many ways, but I'm feeling really stuck and very frustrated with my inability to stop obsessing about this and working my way over and over again through every decision I wish I had made differently. I'll try to remember to report back on how it goes.
post #7 of 10

I haven't experienced EMDR but for my own birth trauma I worked with Pam England of Birthing from Within and she specializes in Birth Story Listening. I worked with her in person because I live in Albuquerque and also by phone when I couldn't travel. I like the work Pam does because she deals with archetypes and really processing the stories we tell ourselves "I didn't try hard enough", "I should have known my care provider wasn't trustworthy", "Why didn't I try that sooner" so that we can move past the anger towards are selves and others. Even while getting help, 15 months is not that long to process a birth- there are menopausal women that are still working through things. Pam does birth story listening long distance and my also have trained mentors in your area. My sister did EMDR while she was in rehab and found it very helpful for the traumatic events in our live- I may try it myself. I am 16 months postpartum and have not completely resolved my issues, especially since my partner has not worked on his, but I don't feel the need to mull over it all the time. I now see the beauty in my birth even though it was far from what I imagined. When I hear the negative self talk starting, I know how to end the conversation with myself and fix my perspective. I hope you find peace.

post #8 of 10

yes yes yes.

 

For me it made an amazing difference.

 

I had bad PPD and PTSD after the birth of my LO.  PPD started within hours of her birth and just got worse and worse.  I saw one bad therapist who said walk around the block, get help from friends, take some pills and everything will work out.  Meanwhile, I'm going crazy, everything made me angry, I had no bonding with baby, had lots of anger over my birth experience and just wanted to leave my child and husband for something, anything different.

 

At 3 months pp, DH said you're not right.  He called found me a psyciatrist.  She diagnosed me with severe PPD.  Put me on the right meds and pointed me to the right therapist.  After the meds stablized my PPD , I realized that the anger and feelings surrounding the birth were not an effect of PPD. 12 months after birth, I was still going back to the birth experience and I couldn't stop "feeling" the trauma.  It was a repeating loop of thought that I couldn't stop having.  If I wasn't thinking about something, I would think about what happened to me.

 

Therapist suggested EMDR which frankly sounded really goofy, but I thought really what can it hurt?  I continued on meds and talk cognative behavioral therapy. Therapist brought it up again and I said let's do it.

 

It was the hardest day of therapy ever for me.  I put on the headphones and held the pulsing thingies.  Then you talk for a short period of time - like 4 or 5 sentences.  Listen to the tones and then the therapist asks another question. repeat.  I cried a lot and talked about/had issues I hadn't realized were there.  At the end of the session, I felt like I had been beaten up, went home and crawled into bed.

 

A week later, I realized I had NOT thought about the birth since the session.  It was just kind of not there any more.  Holy Smokes!

 

I continued to do therapy/take meds for another few months, but really felt that the tipping point was the EMDR.  I had only the one session of EMDR.

 

Now (2.5 yrs later) I remember the things that caused me to have birth trauma and I still think they sucked, but I don't feel the emotions and I'm not angry. I still think my reaction to what happened to me was legitimate and that I had a crappy midwife who created a lot of the issues, but I don't live in that moment anymore.  I think about it like an old boyfriend that you had a bad breakup with.  You think, well, he was a toad and he treated me bad but I've moved on to bigger and better.  I'm no longer a victim of a bad medical experience but a survivor of it.

 

What's the worst that can happen?  It's not medication that might mess you up. It's listening to beeps and holding buzzing things in you hands and talk about what's causing you problems.  Maybe you can have an outcome like mine.

 

Best of luck.

post #9 of 10

Adding a BIG yes to your question!

 

Just two recent rounds of EMDR on my birth experience (15 months PP) and I feel SO much better. No more crying the moment I think of my son's birth or dread having to talk about it. Like animommy, I also am not thinking constantly about the birth...days go by, which is entirely new. Also, when my period was late this month and it seemed very likely I was pregnant, I didn't feel sheer panic at the thought of birthing again, even though pregnancy isn't what I want right now.

 

And to a previous point, I chose between EMDR and traditional talk therapy with a birth specialist b/c I haven't seen traditional talk therapy to ever be very helpful at relieving trauma and because in the year following my son's birth, it became apparent to me that the trauma I experienced during my son's birth has ties to prior, unresolved trauma. I want it ALL taken care of, not just the birth, KWIM?

 

Also, my EMDR therapist is a woman in her 50s who has not ever given birth and does not specialize in birth. I have some crazy intense beliefs connected to birthing (50 hours of mostly unmedicated back labor with stalled dilation and I had the determination to request a 2nd opinion from another midwife before consenting to the cesarean and I STILL felt like I hadn't tried hard enough) and she has never minimized me in the slightest.That would be be a marker of a bad therapist, not a non-specialist.

 

You can hire an EMDR Consultant, who is someone with more expertise, which is what I did. He or she may therefore be more able to follow the various threads that have proven more traumatic for you.

 

Wishing you healing, peace and joy!
 

post #10 of 10

A follow up on the OP comment about finding a "birth trauma" EMDR specialist.  My therapist was not birth trauma specialist at all. Just compassionate. She was never dismissive of my experience which was not a "horrific" birth but just bad for me.

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