Healing from birth…
Is not linear. Is a spiral, layered, multidimensional, takes time, may never be “complete”.
Is unique and complex.
Be patient and kind to yourself.
I have learned and I believe that when a woman experiences birth trauma it becomes lodged in the body and tissues, it leaves an imprint on the nervous system. It can put you into a state of “survival” and shock. Feelings of anxiety, flashbacks, nightmares, depression and low or flat affect, ruminating on what happened and constantly analysing and dissecting it, and the what if’s, or if only’s were the way trauma showed up for me, as well as physical illness, anger, withdrawal and feelings of sadness and sexual dysfunction. It was a rough and wild 2 years post my son’s birth is all I’ll say with those things being felt and experienced in different ways and at different times.
For me, healing involved some of these things, and perhaps more that I can’t recall, or maybe don’t explicitly link to healing.
- Letting myself feel the feelings, and acknowledge the spectrum of feelings when I was ready. Grief, disappointment, anger, rage, frustration, sadness, resentment, ambivalence, numbness, sadness, are some of the things that I moved through.
- Regular counselling and mentoring for about 20 sessions with Angela Fitzgerald of Birth Your Truth, it felt like a big investment at the time but was so worth it. To have that time each week to have a safe space to vent, be heard, and share with a wise woman who was a midwife (she left the system), doula, mother, dancer, and beautiful soul.
- Writing your birth story is a great processing tool, and then rewriting it again later after you feel some healing has occurred, you might find some gifts of gold in there.
- Only sharing your story with people who understand birth trauma is important. Being fobbed off with “at least you and your baby are healthy” is so unhelpful.
- Kinesiology with someone who understands birth trauma, I recommend Camille Addison if you’re in Newcastle.
- Debriefing with my doula many times.
- Getting my hospital records and looking at them to help understand the sequence of events- for me reviewing these really affirmed that my body was progressing and “working” – it was the system that let me down. I needed more time with better support and care which was lacking once I was transferred to the hospital. This has been an ongoing review. Each time I look at them, I notice different things.
- Taking care of my health and mental health by prioritising things like acupuncture, naturopath, integrative GP and chiro, bodywork, reiki, etc, whatever I feel supports me.
- Learning more about trauma, the body and somatic experiencing through incredible people like Kimberley Anne Johnson and Nisha Gill.
- Doing my doula training over 4 days in circle with wise women. And, having private mentoring/healing sessions with my doula trainer Anna Watts.
- Falling pregnant again and having a wild pregnancy and miscarriage at 12 weeks. I had one scan at 12 weeks to confirm, and went home and released the pregnancy the next day. This was an autonomous experience which I did alone, albeit incredibly sad, it was also healing and liberating as the final parts of my son’s birth felt stolen or like I’d been robbed of the experience.
- Spending 4 weeks in nature camping with my little family in the Kimberley, WA and the NT.
- Vaginal steaming, now about a once a month practice for me.
- Womb massage with Julia Rossmanith @thenurturedwomb and internal pelvic work.
- Internal pelvis work session with @fionahallinan and @jennyblyth in Bali and a week over there alone.
- Sessions with urogenital osteopath (again in Bali) with Natalie Lejeune.
- Journalling and self-enquiry with prompts from the Birth Talk book – ‘How to Heal a Bad Birth’, these women also offer individual sessions which I will do one day (because the healing is really never ending and “done”).
- Studying to be a certified mentor with Birthing from Within has given me more tools to support myself not just in healing from birth but in life. This course has given me so much more than skills to be a childbirth educator.
- A birth story listening session with @daniella_ruru which revealed a new layer I hadn’t seen.
- Birthing (making) a drum in the forest at Dunn’s Creek in circle with other women, and led by the incredibly wise Anki @sacred_rising
I’m sure there’s things I’ve done that I’ve forgotten! I’d love to know what things have supported you to heal from a bad birth experience? Let me know if this post is helpful too!