I'm about 2 months away from birthing my third child, after a traumatic experience with my second child's birth. (Described in a previous thread.) At first I was completely determined to have a c-section, but with the support of a very understanding doula friend, I'm now trying to prepare for a vaginal birth. In my previous two pregnancies, I felt calm and confident. This time I'm trying to 'trust birth' but I have to admit that I'm struggling with a lot of fears and mistrust of caregivers. Sometimes I wonder if it is worth it because I feel so much more stressed now that I'm not planning a c-section anymore. In the daytime I feel like I can cope, but if I wake up at night I feel overwhelmed thinking about having to face that feeling of being exhausted and trapped and violated and powerless.
Could anyone recommend some good resources, books or on-line, for preparing for a birth after undergoing birth trauma? I also have a history of sexual abuse, so resources specifically dealing with that would also be appreciated. I have been reading hypnobirthing literature but there are no classes available in my area, and I would not be comfortable in a group setting. There are also no counsellors in my area specializing in birth trauma, so that is not an option.
I commend you for wanting to meet this head on. One thought I had is to read tons of positive birth stories. There are lots on the VBAC board, and probably this one too, as well as the Birth Stories forum. Read stories of other women overcoming obstacles. You could also try journaling at night when those thoughts overwhelm you. I hope this upcoming birth will be healing and joyous.
(disclaimer: I haven't had a second yet)
I think part of it depends on what was traumatic about your previous birth, and how your trauma manifests. I know reading birth stories would probably get me wound up, rather than helping. My plan probably involves making a detailed do/don't do list for my birth plan. Also planning/packing stuff to bring me out of it if I wig out . My therapist calls this grounding, and it's mostly sensory stuff (to smell, feel, listen to) to help you remember that it's now and not the last time.
I've also seen The Pink Kit recommended for VBAC prep, and they do have an extra disc for people who have had a traumatic birth.
Thanks so much, I will definitely check out Birthing from Within. I haven't heard of The Pink Kit, I'll look into that too. I do actually find it very healing to read other women's birth stories, both positive and negative, and have been reading some on this site. I've been reading Hypnobirthing and I think I can take some helpful things from that, although it seems more guided toward a first-time mom. For me, I want to both be able to picture this birth as a very positive experience, but also plan for the negative events that I'm all too well aware can occur.
I'm just a few weeks (or days) away from birthing my second and I didn't realize until about a month ago that I was still dealing with a lot of fear and anxiety regarding this birth. I was hoping to birth at the local birthing center so that I would be more "protected" but I'm going to end up at the hospital again and all that "fighting" that it includes (at least in my mind).
What I've done throughout this pregnancy and much more the last few weeks is to practice relaxation and trust in my body. I've had several conversations with LO about her upcoming birth and I've really gotten into details with DH since he's actually been a source of some of my anxiety. We are having a doula this time (we didn't last time) and I'm feeling more connected with him now that I've really bared my soul about the fears I have.
On top of that, I've read Ina May's Guide to Childbirth and Dr. Dick-Read's Childbirth without Fear. Both are great books that teach you how childbirth is intended to go rather than the bad things that might happen. It's allowed me to build a lot of trust in myself and my body.
My doula introduced me to this book, and I love it! It is all about processing and healing past births (including when you have given birth and when you were born) and incorporates guided imagery and gets you to create your own imagery for use before and during birth. It is in a workbook format and would be great to work through with a friend or doula with whom you have or want to build a supportive connection. It does not specifically deal with sexual trauma, unfortunately, but as a trauma survivor who has had PTSD myself, I still found the work very helpful. I'm working through it now in preparation for my second birth. I'm also using Mindful Birthing, which is not trauma oriented but the meditation techniques presented could definitely be healing for dealing with trauma.
Mama to a bilingual (Arabic/English) and cuddly 3 year old, and planning another peaceful homebirth in June.