Many mothers who come to my practice, have had a tough or negative birth experience. I rarely speak to women who have given birth like it was a piece of cake. I find that a strange expression anyway, because what does this mean, anyway? And what kind of cake? Of course, there are also mothers for whom this was the case and for whom the delivery went nice and smoothly. This article is for the mothers, for whom this was not the case. The mothers who have had a trauma because what happened during giving birth and still suffer from that from it until this day.
The delivery plan
Becoming a mother is a big deal. For some mothers it has been clear throughout their lives that they wanted to become a mother. For others, this feeling came much later in life and with another mothers this feeling may never be fully realized. Is that a bad thing? No! You try to do the best you can as a mom, nothing more and nothing less. When the delivery finally starts after nine months, most women are very happy that the time has come. The last few weeks are often challenging for most pregnant women and they look forward to the moment where they can finally hold their baby. Usually, you have written a delivery plan together with your partner in advance, which you have discussed with your midwife or gynecologist. In this document, you often describe what you do and do not want during your delivery. For me, this was, for example, that I did not want an intern at my bedside, but an experienced and empathetic obstetrician. She was experienced. Empathically: not so much. And I got an intern at my bedside. Need I say more?
So, I might as well not have written my birth plan, to begin with. I actually think that this birth plan is very nice especially for you as a pregnant mother, so that you get the feeling that you have a little grip on the situation. Once the time has come and you are having your baby, it is often different than what you had previously thought or hoped for. For a few reasons. First of all, Mother Nature does not allow itself to be regulated by our devised rules. For example, your birth can suddenly take three days and you have to go into the hospital, even though you thought you could have a natural birth in a warm bath at home. Secondly, communication is often poor or unclear during a birth, between medical professionals and the mother and father. For example, the communications go between the medical professionals and not to the mom herself. They talk over her head, as we say in my country. When it comes to a situation that is balancing between life and death, that is understandable. But even in less critical situation, this often happens. Many moms tell me, they had an episiotomy and a cut is made, without explaining or even telling this in advance to the mother in advance. I find this unbelievable and very rude towards the patient. I mean, they cut your vagina open. Can it get more intimate then that?
Giving birth is not a walk in the park
This causes a lot of fear and panic among the mother who is going through the struggle of her life. Giving birth is not a walk in the park and poor communication often makes a huge (negative) contribution to the situation. I am not writing this to try to point belittling fingers towards the midwives or doctors. I say this, because I hope that the bad communication during child birth will improve. And that the numbers of labor trauma will decrease considerably as a result. Because, I think that is desperately needed. My husband is a trauma surgeon and he tells me often about childbirth ruptures, where he often has to help recovering, together with the gynecologist. Because it has to be done well and as a woman you don’t want to be stuck with the consequences of an injury like this for the rest of your life. Often, women do not know this all can happen in advance. In the moment of child birth itself, the intoxication of the entire situation is often so all-embracing that mothers just let it all happen. Because they are so overwhelmed. To be left behind with a very unpleasant and sometimes empty feeling afterwards, once the birth is over and they return back home.
If I notice that mothers have a real trauma after giving birth, I continue to ask questions. For example, I ask them: what are your complaints, do you often have nightmares, flashbacks about the birth, do you experience heart palpitations, stress, anger outbursts, etc? Because this is just a small sample of the symptoms that mothers with birth trauma walk around with. If therapy with me is not enough, I always refer these mothers to a good EMDR therapist. I think this is essential to get rid of your trauma and to enjoy life and your baby again. Not that suddenly everything in your life after EMDR is just fantastic, but your life does gets a little lighter, it gets color again and you can handle motherhood a lot better. I am going to follow an EMDR therapist training next year because I think it is so important that mothers with trauma can be helped by someone who understands what this is like.
I had a birth trauma myself, after the birth of my oldest daughter. I was constantly angry with the entire world and didn’t understand why I was feeling this way. When my therapist then suggested EMDR, I didn’t know if it would help me. In retrospect, it was the best thing I could have ever done for myself. The feelings afterwards, the relief and no longer feeling angry or sad about my birth story, cannot be expressed in words. I can therefore recommend it to everyone! In any case, keep talking about your birth trauma. Start talking as soon as possible in the maternity week with your maternity nurse, your husband, a good friend, anyone you trust or feel comfortable with. But, also with your own midwife or doctor, Tell them that you were left feeling unpleasant after the birth. Then state your limits afterwards and tell them what you experienced as difficult and what you think caused all of that. In this way, you get it of your chest and the healthcare professional in question can (hopefully) learn from this all.
Have you noticed that you also have negative thoughts after you have given birth? Do you feel lonely and do you have gloomy moods that pass with difficulty? Do you often have nightmares and do you notice that you have angry episodes? Then please e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org! I know better than anyone else how this feels and I can help you!