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healing birth trauma

post #1 of 35
Thread Starter 
I wasnt sure where to put this but here it goes:
Today I saw the lactation consultant that helped us when ds was born. We got really close and since she moved from this area every time she visits we see each other. Anyway seeing her brought back all the memories of those first days with ds when he couldnt latch because his jaw was so tense and his sucking was not correct. All this because we had a long, hard, painful, full of interventions birth experience (it was a vaginal birth though) that affected us a lot during the first week of his life, basically because we couldnt nurse. So finally when the LC came we did all kinds of things to teach him to suckle, and then a few days later she gave him an amazing rebirth bath that was the BEST experience for us and right there he started sucking perfectly and his jaw relaxed completely and a new life *really* began for us. So that was amazing and ds became a very happy nursling and im so thankful to this amazing woman that helped us so much!
Still, I feel I havent healed. Well, I suppose I have done to an extent and in different moments of these years I have gone through the pain, regrets, etc of our birth experience but is still so present in me, that today, almost 3 years later, when we said goodbye to her I was almost in tears, overflowing with very strong feelings about the memories of those days.
So I was wondering, for the mamas who had a difficult birth, what has helped you heal?
do you go through periods or moments when all comes back even though you feel you have worked on your feelings about it?
I know is a process but sometimes I feel like its a wound that will never heal
post #2 of 35

It's perfectly natural that seeing her would bring this stuff up.
This tells me you are a caring, passionate, wonderful person. If you didn't care you would not be the loving person you are.

I have found that those times when I wish I could force myself to get over it are the times when I MOST need to be PRESENT with my difficult feelings.

Sometimes I am fine, sometimes being around new mamas hurts like hell. Sometimes I go numb.

Some good advice I got was to find a ritual to do when I am hurting, and set time limits so I don't wallow. Wallowing has it's place however! Only YOU can define these limits for yourself.
Rituals could include writing, artwork, gardening or some other healing/growing kind of thing.

"Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart...try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue.
Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them.
And the point is, to live everything.
Live the questions now.
Perhaps you will then gradually,
without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer."

The abuse of birthing women is such a painful thing...the birthing system is so BROKEN in our culture...there is BOUNDLESS pain that I myself have to set limits around what I can handle, how much I can think about it before the grief just overwhelms me.

Lots of people say "oh get over it, you should be grateful, don't feel (X, Y, Z) or, don't feel guilty."

That's a load of crap.
You have a right to all your feelings.

Books that may help, that discuss healing from birth trauma
Rebounding from Childbirth
A good Birth A Safe Birth

Good luck to you! :better
post #3 of 35
I too had an awful birth experience. honestly my daughters birth can be described as the worst day of my life. i am being totally honest here. when she finally was born, after total hell for 12 hrs, all i felt was relief that it was over...no joy, no happiness, nothing. i didnt even want to hold her. her first year wasnt much better, as she was "colicky" picky and downright miserable. i nursed and nursed but with little satisfaction for both of us. now, after visiting this wonderful message board, i realize her birth has literally colored our relationship from the start and to this day, and she is now 15. she became a true joy once she started walking and for the most part has continued to be a joy. interestingly, whenever she acts up, is moody, etc...i always think "its been this way since my water broke"...how that for having bad feelings about a birth experience, i mean this is 15 yrs later! i can tell you that my third childs birth was a complete turning point in terms of healing. i had a midwife/hospital birth and she took such good care of me, and gave me the birth of my dreams. she always listened as i told her how terrified i was to give birth again. she held my two hands in hers and promised me that it wouldnt happen again, and that she would do whatever it took to give me the birth i wanted. in fact, i was originally seeing a female dr in the office, and the doctor is the one who strongly recommended i be with the midwives in her group! finally, my sons birthday came about, and i labored 2 hrs, went from 7cm to birth in 10 minutes, had no tearing, no epis and very little bleeding. i nursed right away, then got up and took a shower, the next day i went home, picked up my 2 older kids at the busstop and went grocery shopping! 4 years later i am still on a high from that birth, and look at the pictures taken with tears in my eyes. i hope to take it to the next level should i have another child...i will have a homebirth.
post #4 of 35
Thread Starter 
thank you so much momtwice for your caring and heartfelt reply, i do feel at times that i should be over it, be grateful,... but then all these feelings come back, so obviously all this pain is not gone at all, its all here, alive with me. I have wallowed and it helped me as well, mostly during the 1st year. I have also painted and written a story of our birth for ds. Maybe I should write a much more detailed one for me too. Funny about the gardening, I tried a lot for a while with no success and now a bunch of plants are sprouting in the garden....
Thank you for sharing and for helping in making all these feelings OK.
Thank you so much for the Rilke quote, its perfect (hes is great isnt he?)
Hugs and good luck to you too
post #5 of 35
Thread Starter 
sweetbaby3, we most have posted at the same time!
Thank you for sharing, I did felt terrible at the time ds was being born, I wanted to scream and shout: GET OUT now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And I have felt terrible for that. I have also looked forward to my next birth to heal this experience, but the I feel like how am I suppose to have a good birth if Im not healed from this one? Its good to hear your story and Im happy you healed!
When he was finally in my arms i had a mixture of feelings, i was like in shock, happy he was ok, and I think it took me a whole day to be ready for him emotionally, the good thing is that he was asleep next to me most of that day and from then the first week i was so frightened and tense but concentrated on our nursing crusade, and i believe that for us, nursing was a deep connecting and very healing experience, and still is! I have often wondered what our lives would be if we didnt or hadnt nursed.... nursing has been the best for us both.
thank you for your reply and for the hope!
post #6 of 35
Luma, you wrote,
"I was so frightened and tense but concentrated on our nursing crusade, and I believe that for us, nursing was a deep connecting and very healing experience..."

I had a very similar experience. My daughter nursed CONSTANTLY in the first year of her life and I am quite sure the traumatic birth had something to do with it. YEARS after she was born she timidly told me she remembered being terrified when she was born, and was afraid of the attendants. (I was too, they were nasty!)
Thank God/dess for nursing!
post #7 of 35


Luma and other mamas,

I too found the nursing relationship to be so very healing after the labor and birth (and 7 days of waiting for my milk to come in). I really find that now and again I just really need to be able to express my sadness to someone with whom I feel safe. Yes, the feelings sure do come back at times even when I think I'm in a good place with it. When I'm in that place of going over it in my mind, I remind myself to be gentle... the birth experience did not go as I had planned, but sometimes life just is this way.

Blessings to you Luma, and be gentle with yourself
post #8 of 35
Thread Starter 
wow thats amazing!
ds has said that he remembers a very strong light that was hurting him, you are so right about what you said, the birthing system is so wrong, so against our nature....I bet that many of the scars we carry around in this world come from the way we were born, (if it happened in a hospital filled with interventions)
I mean the world would be a different place if homebirth was the norm and hospitals were just used in emergency cases, wouldnt it?
For me ds's birth was an awakening, and although painful, Im glad Im at this point and still learning. Im so in awe of the very concious awake mamas to be that are learning everything even before conceiving! And im also in awe of all the mamas in this dotcom for all the wise choices and all the growth we share and the great advise given so lovingly! YOU ARE ALL SO GREAT!
post #9 of 35
Thread Starter 
thanks pioneermama, I didnt see your post before,
blessings to you too
so it seems that we all know that NURSING rocks!!!!
post #10 of 35
Thanks for bringing this up, Luma. I, too, am still working through the healing from my son's birth - he's 28mo. It has taken some time and energy and has been quite a journey - I'm sure you all understand. For the first 10 months after ds' birth, I was still in blissland. It wasn't until he neared his first birthday that I realized I had many unresolved issues. I started doing some shamanic healing work, which was a good start for me - having healings done on me and learning how to do shamanic journeying myself. In one of my journeys, I learned that my life path was in the direction of birth. Not long after this, I enrolled in a midwifery intensive. I thought that if only I learned more about what happened during my son's birth, it would be totally worth it to me. And, actually, that intensive really brought the healing down to a deeper level. I began to understand the birth process, see what had happened to me, ask questions of other midwives re: my birth experience. While I was processing all of this information, I was also getting acupuncture to rebalance the energy in my body. I continued in the shamanic healing realm and am currently planning to start seeing my therapist again. I still lack the confidence in my body - I hope that I can finally feel connected and confident again.

So much healing has already occured. One thing that I have noticed is that Ben's birth really brought up so many unresolved issues in my life regarding my body, my sexuality, my spirituality, my right and to have my experience and my ability protect my experience. So many things came to the surface. And now I look at the birth as a blessing in disguise - I get to heal so many deep issues in my life that I may never have experienced in quite this way. We are going to ttc next March or April and I really would like to have more healing and/or understanding of myself before embarking on the next leg of my journey. I also want to be as present as possible for the next life coming in.

Birth challenged me in such a mighty way!!! It is a truly awesome experience.

And, I do agree about nursing. It really does rock!!!
post #11 of 35
Thread Starter 
that sounds great EarthWind! I have been working with our homeopath too and also as you said, lots of unresolved issues came up with ds's birth. Like I konw now I had this big fear, because my mom lost 2 baby girls (not twins) before me, they were born and both died when they were 30 and 40 days old This is something that was never openly discussed, I didnt know about it until I was in my 20's and my cousin told me! So I know that that was an underlying big unresolved one although I had proccessed some of it but like the loss of 2 sisters, not like a mom that could loose a baby. So like that one many things came up and i love the way you say it, a blessing in disguise, its true, I would have never felt the core of lots of things in my life and about myself and life and love if it wasnt for ds's birth. I know I have lots to heal and Im so glad to hear your stories, and to know that somehow we are all healing
thank you
post #12 of 35
So beautifully said EarthWind.
post #13 of 35
Thread Starter 
I agree!
post #14 of 35
Thread Starter 
hey mamas, I have re read through your great posts and this afternoon I felt something really good. That I dont have to get over these feelings. They are all part of the most amazing thing that has happened to me. The huge pain and the huge joy of ds's birth are together, I cant separate them and discard whats painful as if it was some burocratical procedure. At times I thought it could be like that. But then all would have been for nothing and my life, whats mine, wouldnt be complete.
I feel now that I want it all in, all the sadness and all the joy of it. Its mine, its me, is my most valuable life experience, precisely because of how it was, and it made me a much better person.
Thanks again to all of you
post #15 of 35
Amen, Luma!

(And of course I mean that "Amen" in a secular way if organized religion is not your trip, sister! )

It does not have to be ok, the loss of joy/peace around our births, just like any other pregnancy loss, or ANY loss in life.

And if it breaks you open and "undams" you, as one poet wrote, that's great too and can bring you great insight. But not all of us can get there.

I sometimes lift my head out of the chaos of life in general, and feel the Universe/God/dess has a plan (in the song Comfortably Numb by Pink FLoyd they talk about getting a glimpse out of the corner of your eye...you turn to look but it's gone...to me that is TRUTH.) Sometimes I meet a mom who is grieving and she seems so SURPRISED that I don't discount her feelings, tell her to get over it etc. I feel I'm giving her a gift. (Of course there are other moms who steer clear of me because they would RATHER stay numb and steer clear of their feelings cause it just hurts too darn much.)

It's not always safe to discuss this stuff. How nice that it IS safe in this thread.

"It only takes a spark to get a fire going..." (song)
post #16 of 35

What an illuminating awareness - wonderful!

post #17 of 35
i'm feeling a bit....ummm speechless on this topic....Just wanted to join in and try to put into words my thoughts and feelings, but I have just read them all in your posts.

I keep bumbling over myself in my thoughts and I keep thinking...there just aren't the words to fully describe the birthing experience. I like the word "awakening". I too have been on this incredible journey to the meanings of birth in all aspects of our being. I was truly awakened, even to new abilities that I didn't have before, since my last birth.

My first birth was very traumatic in many ways. The impact has been immense, and long lasting. My second birth was amazing. For the longest time I couldn't fully enjoy the second birth because I was filled with so much guilt because I had not been able to give my firstborn what I gave the second in birth. It helped me to realize that the second healing birth helped me to connect with and be the mama I wanted to be for the first baby as well, and that now benefits both children, not the just second born.

I also love Rilke, and have been looking for that quote for over 10 years since I didn't know the author. I am thrilled to have found it again!!!!

The concepts I find to be helpful in all realms of pain are: validation (including safety/support)
expression of emotion
forgiveness of all involved in my pain, esp. myself
surrender--living life open-handed
faith (for me this means faith in God, faith in myself, and in others worthy of my trust)

Volumes could be said about each. I've been dealing with the (oops, second to last) last one a lot lately. Just letting it be. Whatever it is. I have found that when I am here the grief flows in a cleansing flood over my soul, and once again, for that moment I find not only relief but peace.

I am noticing that the correlations between our souls and our births is at times really close. Like, I think I could say that "I live as I birth, I birth as I live".
(Now I forgot where I was going with that. oh well.)

I don't think we ever "get over" birth. I think it's sad that in our culture birth isn't given its proper place in a woman's life. We don't have a ritual that commemorates the incredible rite of passage (and other things) birth is. Maybe this is due to the medicalization (sp?) of birth. It's as if you're supposed to be ready to move on after your 6-week check up. There's no bonding in the first place with the persons at your birth (traditional model) and no continuity of care and relationship with the people who shared in the miracle with you afterward. So the birthing mother is left alone to process her experience and ultimately repress it in the absence of support. But the tide is changing. There's a new wave of awareness, as these boards reveal.

i could go on and on.
Thanks for bringing this up. Let's keep talking.

post #18 of 35
Hello everyone!

I have been coming back to read this thread over the past week or two - and everytime I read what all of you wise women have written, I feel something breathe within my soul. I so need to have these kinds of discussions - it's as if I need the reminders, the marks on the healing path. Healing is such a big word, isn't it? I don't even think we really know the dimensions that healing really can and does touch.

I just wanted to let you all know that I feel such a kinship with each of you. Now, I only wish we could all get together for a cuppa - although, I sort of feel like we are having our own little "virtual" tea party.

Thank you so much!!!

post #19 of 35
Thread Starter 
mamas! I too feel warmth in my heart while I read through your each of your replies, this place feels so good and cozy.
I printed the Rilke quote and have been reading it these days and your posts, Im amazed that I started saying "a wound that will never heal" and now I want to learn to wear my beautiful wound, am I making any sense?
Also I felt that by being in this new feeling, besides accepting my self, I accepted ds fully, like there was something I didnt know was there but has somehow been released, Im so glad.
And that by discovering that this is me, with the hurt and the joy, I got a glimpse of a chain reaction that can go towards the past, about things that I thought were sad and wanted to forget, for a moment they seemed like buried treasures to explore, like im a millonaire and didnt know! I have to go find the treasures, it can take me all my life but its ok. I have been feeling much more like myself, like I am, very sensitive and have been crying, but its different this time. Its like Im in safe arms. It really feels cozy here, you are all, each one of you, so beautiful. Thank you
post #20 of 35
i found that having a very positive birth experience with dd2 helped me heal from a very negative birth experience with dd1.

it makes me feel so sad that so many women and babies suffer through a negative birth experience when it didn't have to be that way. the medical world has no regard for the awesome and reverent experience that giving birth is.
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