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Getting over birth trauma?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
I had kind of a traumatic first birth and now I am scared to death. I think a lot of it was related to abuse when I was a child? How do you "get over" this? I want to be OK for this next babe's birth, especially since we are going to try and have it at home...Anyone else experience this?
post #2 of 9
My esperience is from a midwife point of view.

It is good you are acknowledging the fear factor.

Fear is a normal part of the process. Often an impediment. But we cannot just ignore it. Dealing with the fear and working with it rather than be controlled by it.

LAbor is a process with blood sweat and tears and fearful moments for some.
It is ever changing and comes in waves. A women usually gets many opportunities through the process of pregnancy, labor and birth to practice faith, challenge fears and take on power.

Put yourself with a support system that is about you being in control and in your power. It seems that giving decisions and power to women who have been abused eases some of the trauma for them/you/us.
post #3 of 9
I had a horrific experience with dd, a homebirth to hospital transfer. I felt completely violated by the hospital staff and abandoned by my mw.

I am scared this time, of the unknown. The whole time, I've just talked to the baby, saying that we'll figure it out, and only do what makes us comfortable. And that changes from day to day.

If I want to, I can go to a hospital. I have a doctor I've been seeing, it won't be like last time, but, if I want to stay home, I know I can do that as well. I had ds at home, and dd unassisted in the hospital (long story), so I'm comfortable going the more unassisted route here.

Mostly, and this is why there's an almost six year age gap between dd and this one, it's taken me a very long time to heal and trust my body and believe that I can go through labor without it feeling like an assault.

I do think it is about being where you feel comfortable, and safe, and where you can hope for the best. And, even if things go south a little, that the people you have around you will fight for what you want and try to keep you calm and secure.

Good luck to you, I know this can be quite a journey. But I have hope it will be okay.
post #4 of 9
Hi, this is my first post here. I joined the group for that exact reason. I feel this need to "heal" before trying to VB. ETA: a small part may trigger

I agree that a lot of it may be about control. For me the internal exams were excruciating. I felt like I was a 14yo getting a rape kit done again. But after talking to other mamas on this forum, I have decided not to allow internal exams with this child. You can say no to things, I am learning.

I also won't do the pap smear. I think that it is tramatic for me and if I have abnormal cells it won't change a thing until after I deliver.

I am going to hire a doula, this time. DH, bless his heart, just doesn't cut it for understanding why I almost kicked the doctor in the face for touching me wrong.

I really don't know how much my past had to do with my first child ending as a c/s. There were some complications (polyhydramniosis and one kidney dilated) but when they asked if I wanted to have a c/s or keep trying to be induced for the third day I snatched the pen out of the doc's hand. Anything to keep these strangers from violating me with their hands, gels, hooks... I know my pain was severly increased by fear but when they tried to pop the amniotic sac I "knew" I couldn't handle "real" labor.

I wonder how much effect my emotions had on my body... I was at forty plus a few days and not dilated at all. It could be because their was so much amniotic fluid the baby wasn't putting any pressure to come out, but part of me can't help wondering if it was "me'. They tried everything to get me to dilate for two days.

I want a vaginal birth experience that doesn't involve strangers. I want to be private and have only myself and DH and maybe the doula in a room. I really want a HBAC. It is the only way I think I can handle things.

But I'm also trying to be realistic and planning for any eventuality.

Sorry it was so long and rambly... I just had to get some of that out of my system.

post #5 of 9
Thre are some good ideas here.

Another suggestion I would offer would be to spend some time with a therapist who does EMDR therapy. It is a relatively quick way of processing traumatic memories so that you no longer feel the intense anxiety, pain or fear when you think about them. It is highly effective. I believe someone has posted elsewhere about using it to help overcome the negative aftereffects of a traumatic birth.
post #6 of 9
BTW, Shantimama.

Any pointers about using the EMDR?

I wsa not "preperaed" much last time. ...at all frankly.

It worked wonders on ONE incident.

I have thousands of incidents and not THAT much money !!

would love to jumpstart healing from the PTSD stuff.
post #7 of 9
I don't know. If I were you I would make an appointment with an EMDR therapist and talk about it. I have heard it is possible to process similar events together, you don't have to do each memory individually. I seem to recall when my therapist first told me about EMDR, she told me about a client who processed traumatic memories from many years of his life in a single session.

Talk to the therapist, talk about your last experience of EMDR and your concerns about doing it again. The pacing of healing from a traumatic past is essential, whether you use EMDR or more traditional talk therapy. Find out what kind of experience/approach the therapist has in working with trauma clients. If they want to jump right into severe trauma processing without developing a strong relationship with you first, move on. EMDR is most effective for traumatized people within the context of a strong therapeutic relationship. It is faster than other approaches but not a quick easy fix. Look around and interview a few EMDR therapists if you have to.

Good luck to you
post #8 of 9
I had what was (for me) a very traumatic 1st birth experience. I felt violated by the caregivers and just like I'd been through some disaster in general. It interfered with early bonding and caused problems with breastfeeding. And it contributed greatly to a major postpartum depression. I eventually got out of the depression but never really felt "healed" from this birth--until I had a positive experience with my 2nd child's birth.

The most helpful thing for me was to read Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, with all its positive birth stories. I read that early in the pregnancy, and it gave me a new confidence that I could have a positive experience myself, and that I could give birth without pain medication. I did prenatal yoga (had a DVD with Sheva Rea), and that helped me learn to relax while part of my body was under tension. I don't know how much the squats in that yoga program really helped me prepare physically, but mentally and emotionally, every time I did them, I was visualizing opening up for my baby to come out. It helped so much.

Homebirth wasn't an option for me, but I stayed at home as long as possible so as to avoid hospital inverventions. We ended up leaving at what turned out to be the very last minute and barely got there in time! I had her on the floor by the elevator in the hospital! I was really, really happy with this birth and felt so empowered. I did it without pain medication! I did it on my terms! From that moment forward, my first birth experience lost its power over me. I felt truly healed. And just the memory of my 2nd birth experience has helped give me strength and motivation at the difficult times in my life. If you'd like more detailed information about how I handled things in the 2nd birth, you can read my birth story (and see a couple pictures) here:


There are also some comments from my DH inserted in the birth story that are pretty funny. If this link doesn't work for some reason, however, the birth story (without DH's comments) can also be found here on MDC:

post #9 of 9
Hi there. I'm so sorry you had a traumatic birth experience and I hope and pray this experience is beautiful and helps you heal.

One of the things that helped me, was that we had our first (and only so far) baby at home. If you are planning to have your child at home I do think that helps a lot because you are on your own *turf* so to speak and it is much easier to feel comfortable and also stand up for yourself and your wishes in your own home.

I agree with the pp, you can completely say no to internal exams and if you feel uncomfortable in any way, you should. Midwives are so good about this -- much better than doctors in my opinion. The only time my midwife even saw me *down there* was during actual labor, and afterward to make sure there was no tearing etc. By that time though, we had established a relationship and trust and I felt comfortable with her so I didn't mind.

Also, I think preparedness goes a long way to helping you feel in control and at ease. For me, feeling out of control is one of the worst feelings. I couldn't exactly control the birth in terms of when she was coming and the actual labor... so I took control over everything else I prepared meals ahead of time and froze them, I washed her clothes and put them away, I cleaned (in the weeks before labor) I made birth announcements, I read books on labor and breathing and techniques.. I did all this stuff to prepare and educate myself as well as get everything in "order" if you will -- and it did really give me a sense of control over the situation.

Also, don't invite ANYONE to your birth that you are not COMPLETELY comfortable with and trust and who you know will be 100% supportive. My own mother almost wasn't welcome at my birth because of past abuse issues, etc... and we basically hashed A LOT of things out when I was pregnant because I told her she was not welcome unless she was to be 100% supportive. That is so important in birthing.

Good luck to you and I wish you a blessed birth.
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