Suggestions on how to get through PTSD of previous birth traumas - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 11-25-2010, 12:49 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I had an extremely traumatic birth with my daughter 12 1/2 years ago. Since then, I can't go to an OB-GYN, and am terrified of doctors and hospitals. I haven't had an OB-GYN appointment since 2004, and the reason I could go there was because my insurance covered holistic practioners, and they were very supportive. So, anyway, this leads to the here and now, where I am pregnant again, and I'm trying to do everything natural. I have a midwife, I am doing a homebirth, trying to be low tech, and just doing as many things as I can to support a natural birth. The problem, is that I make mistakes, and then I totally beat myself up. Another problem, is that when I'm triggered (and I have no idea what might be my triggers beforehand) it causes extreme amounts of stress on the baby, and myself. Without knowing what my triggers are, does anyone have any ideas on how to alleviate the stresses and negative consequences of birth trauma? Any websites? Suggestions, etc? I am also proud of myself in one way.... There was an MD who was a student and wanted to witness normal birth. He was going to just sit in on my meeting with me, my boyfriend and midwife. I stated No, that I didn't want him at my appointment. Yey for boundaries. But then the same day, I felt stupid for using a doppler, because I didn't know it had as much radiation as an ultrasound. So, I've been beating myself up over all day. 

 

 

*I should also add, it was a pregnancy and birth trauma, not just birth trauma

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#2 of 8 Old 11-25-2010, 06:24 AM
 
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First of all (((((hugs)))))) to you.  With my last birth I was basically raped by my doctor.  For many months I dealt with PTSD and due to the specifics of what happened at my birth I wasn't even aware that what I was going through was PTSD.  I finally started going to therapy and ended up being referred to a practitioner who practices EMDR therapy.  According to the therapist EMDR works best when a person experienced a single traumatic event.  So EMDR works great for birth injuries.  It's completely different from a traditional therapy session and I was 'healed' after one actual therapy visit.  The nightmares, insomnia, obsession and alienation that I felt from the PTSD were over after that.

 

I would post a link but the new forum isn't letting me do so.  Just do a google search for EMDR therapy and you will find tons of stuff.

 

That said EMDR can't make you forget the experience either.  Which isn't a bad thing I think it's good that I remember how important it is to never trust a doctor again.  I have yet to see an OB.  When I've needed to have gynecological type work done I go to either a nurse practitioner or a CNM.  The first time I broke down and cried and the NP was very supportive.  The second time I did I was still very nervous but I was able to talk to the CNM about it and felt much better after that.  Every time I've had to go it's gotten easier and easier.  At least now after the EMDR I can look at things like doctors visits from a more rational perspective. 

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#3 of 8 Old 11-25-2010, 06:33 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Harli,

 

I'm sorry for your trauma ((hugs))! I had one experience with my doctor after the birth, it was the check up, and I had never experienced a more painful pap smear in my life! She was angry at me, and demonstrated so with how she treated me. I can't go to get my yearly pap smears anymore. Way too triggering.

 

But what they did to you sounds even more horrific. I can't imagine. I'm glad that you received healing with EMDR.

 

I have heard that EMDR works for some people. Unfortunately, it didn't help me in my traumas. When I had it done, it literally put me into a zombie state for a week. I was numb to the bone. It was as though I had not been able to come back to the present here and now. I got stuck somewhere. I don't feel safe to ever try that one again, I just don't think it works for me. I have such a hard time being in the present anyways, though... so that might be part of the problem.

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#4 of 8 Old 11-25-2010, 07:01 AM
 
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Hugs to you.

 

I had a traumatic delivery with my first (she died) and also was abused as a child and have PTSD, so that's the perspective I'm coming with.

 

First, although I think it's good to minimize stress on your baby, please do remember that they are pretty protected in there.  When you get triggered, I truly do not believe you have to worry about the impact on your baby as much as just handling it for you.  I was very, very stressed and upset throughout my second pregnancy and it was all fine and my son is a thriving 5 year old. So please ease up on yourself a little there.

 

With the doppler, etc., I would also say to try to maintain some perspective. My favourite phrase really is "perfection is the enemy of the good."  If you need the reassurance for a heartbeat, then you do. It is truly all right. Part of why you feel every misstep is awful is because you are in a sort of high-reactive state; part of PTSD can be that your body gets flooded with adrenaline.  Although this is biological and not something you can control, and you do not have to feel bad for worrying, it is good to remember that truly - truly, truly - you do not have to do every single last thing perfectly in order to achieve a completely healthy baby and child.  No one achieves that and don't go by a discussion board as a measuring stick to beat yourself up with.

 

Practical advice: For triggers there are some grounding exercises you can do. Start with deep breaths; this helps to give your body the signal that you are not running away from a tiger. :) The "5 senses" exercise can be helpful - list to yourself 5 things you see, 5 things you hear, 5 things you feel, etc.  The idea is to become grounded in the present and your senses.  There are some more exercises towards the bottom of this page: http://www.addcoach4u.com/acureforworrying.html

 

I personally have found yoga once a week (if you can do it safely in this pregnancy) and walking every day to be big helps - I got put on bedrest this pregnancy so have been managing without, but exercise (safely done) is helpful. Aquafit was nice too.

 

For me protein is important. If I get on the blood sugar high/low of carbs-only, it's not good. And once triggered, protein really helps. So I would suggest being sure you have some protein with each meal or snack - just a half-glass of a protein milk (not rice or almond) or a bit of cheese or some hummus goes a long way for me, and might help you.

 

Watching comedies and laughing helps me a lot - I try to rent or watch something at least once a week, or read something funny. Laughter kind of resets my adrenaline/anxiety levels. I have friends who are happy to help out with that too.

 

Journalling helps me quite a lot, to get out the fears on paper and also to identify trends and learn about my triggers. For example, I tend to get less and less grounded the later at night it is, both due to tiredness and to the time of day. So mostly I try to get to bed earlier and do any chores etc. that are left at the end of the day in the morning - I know that pushing myself to completion is likely to result in getting triggered that night or the next day.

 

For the actual delivery and appointments and so on, what helped me the most was a supportive team. But I also gave up the idea that it was going to be some kind of calm ideal delivery. And in fact, I did panic - once. And that was okay; it was just part of my process. My son was born anyway, just fine and in record time.

 

Finally, remember that even though PTSD is AWFUL and horrible, it is also a natural response to trauma. It is what keeps us from continually disturbing snakes and bears. So it is not unnatural for you to be having the troubles you are having (even though they are terrible and I am sorry you have to deal with them). Natural does not mean everything Zen and Perfect. If you are prepared to believe in a natural labour process then remember that you can also trust that between your body, mind, community, and the love of your family, you are going to be able to get through this.

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#5 of 8 Old 11-25-2010, 09:47 AM
 
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I did not have birth trauma. I am so sorry for those of you that did. I saw this post and really felt the need to reply.

 

I've been doing hypnobabies with this pregnancy. It has really helped me, not only with the stress/ regret feeling violated by DS c sec, but also with day to day stress involving family issues and even my own past issues I didn't know I was dealing with (Like: my mom left my sister and I after I was born, I didn't know I carried the fear that having my second (which I was) would do the same to me, even though it makes no sense)

 

There is a free mp3 you can download called Relax Me. Its worth trying. There are also things specifically for dealing with letting go of prior births, but I don't know that I would do the fear release (which is later in the series) There is a lot of warnings about using it especially for sexual abuse survivors.

 

I hope this can maybe be of some help.

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#6 of 8 Old 11-26-2010, 04:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GuildJenn View Post

Hugs to you.

 

I had a traumatic delivery with my first (she died) and also was abused as a child and have PTSD, so that's the perspective I'm coming with.

 

First, although I think it's good to minimize stress on your baby, please do remember that they are pretty protected in there.  When you get triggered, I truly do not believe you have to worry about the impact on your baby as much as just handling it for you.  I was very, very stressed and upset throughout my second pregnancy and it was all fine and my son is a thriving 5 year old. So please ease up on yourself a little there.

 

With the doppler, etc., I would also say to try to maintain some perspective. My favourite phrase really is "perfection is the enemy of the good."  If you need the reassurance for a heartbeat, then you do. It is truly all right. Part of why you feel every misstep is awful is because you are in a sort of high-reactive state; part of PTSD can be that your body gets flooded with adrenaline.  Although this is biological and not something you can control, and you do not have to feel bad for worrying, it is good to remember that truly - truly, truly - you do not have to do every single last thing perfectly in order to achieve a completely healthy baby and child.  No one achieves that and don't go by a discussion board as a measuring stick to beat yourself up with.

 

Practical advice: For triggers there are some grounding exercises you can do. Start with deep breaths; this helps to give your body the signal that you are not running away from a tiger. :) The "5 senses" exercise can be helpful - list to yourself 5 things you see, 5 things you hear, 5 things you feel, etc.  The idea is to become grounded in the present and your senses.  There are some more exercises towards the bottom of this page: http://www.addcoach4u.com/acureforworrying.html

 

I personally have found yoga once a week (if you can do it safely in this pregnancy) and walking every day to be big helps - I got put on bedrest this pregnancy so have been managing without, but exercise (safely done) is helpful. Aquafit was nice too.

 

For me protein is important. If I get on the blood sugar high/low of carbs-only, it's not good. And once triggered, protein really helps. So I would suggest being sure you have some protein with each meal or snack - just a half-glass of a protein milk (not rice or almond) or a bit of cheese or some hummus goes a long way for me, and might help you.

 

Watching comedies and laughing helps me a lot - I try to rent or watch something at least once a week, or read something funny. Laughter kind of resets my adrenaline/anxiety levels. I have friends who are happy to help out with that too.

 

Journalling helps me quite a lot, to get out the fears on paper and also to identify trends and learn about my triggers. For example, I tend to get less and less grounded the later at night it is, both due to tiredness and to the time of day. So mostly I try to get to bed earlier and do any chores etc. that are left at the end of the day in the morning - I know that pushing myself to completion is likely to result in getting triggered that night or the next day.

 

For the actual delivery and appointments and so on, what helped me the most was a supportive team. But I also gave up the idea that it was going to be some kind of calm ideal delivery. And in fact, I did panic - once. And that was okay; it was just part of my process. My son was born anyway, just fine and in record time.

 

Finally, remember that even though PTSD is AWFUL and horrible, it is also a natural response to trauma. It is what keeps us from continually disturbing snakes and bears. So it is not unnatural for you to be having the troubles you are having (even though they are terrible and I am sorry you have to deal with them). Natural does not mean everything Zen and Perfect. If you are prepared to believe in a natural labour process then remember that you can also trust that between your body, mind, community, and the love of your family, you are going to be able to get through this.

 

((GuildJenn)) Thanks so much for sharing your insight. And, I'm sorry about the loss of your child. ((hugs))! I had also had a miscarriage. And, lots of other childhood abuses, etc. So, thank you for sharing your wisdom as well.

 

I can definitely relate to so many things you said. Thanks so much for your kind words. Definitely, definitely... I am in a high reactive state, with tons of adrenaline. You're so right, that I need to remember this, and remember that I'm not about to get attacked by a tiger. I'm going to use your suggestions and I read the website you recommended, good stuff. One thing my midwife told me is that stress is normal, but the thing to do is to learn to relax as soon as I am able. I think the 5 senses are a definite immediate way to get "grounded in my body". In fact, that's often something I say, is that I'm never really grounded in my body... maybe that's partly the anxiety. Meditation / yoga has helped. I think these things will help me even more though. It's a matter of staying with it. I think your suggestions regarding the protein hits the spot too. I'm not sure if its related to anxiety... especially in that anxiety probably eats up a lot of calories, but I do have hypoglycemia and a really fast metabolism, so that might be a factor as well. I think I'll get some sort of protein bar / thing to have as a snack, and try to eat more protein in my diet. (Especially now that I think I've passed the morning sickness stage!! Whew!!)

 

And you are so right. I need to remember to trust myself, and those around me. And, I do have a good support team now. And, to trust the process, both of pregnancy and birth, as well as my PTSD process. Thanks so much!!!!!

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#7 of 8 Old 11-26-2010, 04:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dakotablue View Post

I did not have birth trauma. I am so sorry for those of you that did. I saw this post and really felt the need to reply.

 

I've been doing hypnobabies with this pregnancy. It has really helped me, not only with the stress/ regret feeling violated by DS c sec, but also with day to day stress involving family issues and even my own past issues I didn't know I was dealing with (Like: my mom left my sister and I after I was born, I didn't know I carried the fear that having my second (which I was) would do the same to me, even though it makes no sense)

 

There is a free mp3 you can download called Relax Me. Its worth trying. There are also things specifically for dealing with letting go of prior births, but I don't know that I would do the fear release (which is later in the series) There is a lot of warnings about using it especially for sexual abuse survivors.

 

I hope this can maybe be of some help.


Thank you ((dakotablue)) for responding. You also offer great ideas and wisdom. Definitely the loss of your mom in your early life sounds like a huge PTSD situation. And, I can understand your feelings towards your second child, because often times I've transferred my emotions onto others, and yeah, I just totally get it. I downloaded and listened to the Relax Me mp3, and it was good. It definitely allowed me to get into a deep relaxation. And, I think because it was on an mp3 and therefore not a person here, I also felt like I was in control and able to come out as I needed to, and it didn't leave me in a zombie state (like the EMDR did, some people think it was the therapist who did it, and that she shouldn't have done it the way she did). So, that was very helpful. Thanks so much!!!!

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#8 of 8 Old 12-05-2010, 03:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I just wanted everyone to know that we had a miscarriage at 4am this morning. It was pretty quick, all things considering. Turns out, there was no baby in there. It was a blighted ovum. Now just trying to heal and replenish. We are sad that we will not be parents soon, but also glad that a baby did not die. 

 

Thanks everyone for your support.

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