The emotions that can surround your birth can be so hard to navigate and even more so if you feel hurt or disappointed by your experience. I applaud your bravery and courage in taking the steps to heal. As you gain a new perspective, your story will change. You will begin to see connections, understand and empathize with parts of the experience that previously you were only able to avoid or judge.
Here are the first two steps you can take towards healing:
Step 1 – Assess Your Birth Experience
When you look deeply at your birth you can uncover moments that you may not be aware of, moments that have triggered you, and the parts of your story have hooked you.
You may have first felt relief and gratitude in the hours and days after your birth. Your labour was finally over and your baby was here. Perhaps you felt gratitude for all of the people who were with you, the medical staff, and/or technology that assisted your delivery.
If your caregivers, or other support people, told you their perspective during this time, it may have influenced your story. As you think back over your experience, ask yourself; is this moment something I remember or something that someone else shared with me?
The medical story is the birth story that carries the most validity in our culture. We ask for medical details when others share their story. We share these details when we tell our story. When we use medical terms, we can emotionally distance ourselves from our grief about what happened.
There may be moments that you regret or wish did not happen. It is easy to judge yourself and at the same time feel like a victim for what occurred. The judge blames you for what happened. The victim blames others. You can feel like a ping-pong ball bouncing between victim and judge. By listening to yourself with compassion, you can move beyond the door into healing.
You may have developed a “safe” birth story or a “social” birth story. A story that you can share with others that could emphasize certain parts and downplay others so as not to expose your deeper feelings about what happened, or to make your story fit in with what others share with you.
• Are you telling yourself a story that is actually someone else’s perspectives?
• Are you judging yourself?
• Are you feeling like a victim?
• Are you overly focused on the medical details and not what else was happening (your emotions, your intuition, and so on)
Spend some time writing out your birth story. I suggest making three columns. The first is for what occurred (IE: 2pm my nurse left the room for her dinner break), the second column is for how you felt about it at the time (I felt connected to my nurse and felt abandoned when she left. The new nurse did not interact with us. She mostly read my chart), and the final column is for how you feel about that part of your birth now (I can look back now and see that this was the point when things started to turn downwards).
Take your time doing this. If you need to walk away and return to it later then do so. Be gentle with yourself. Once you have captured your story, put it away for 24 hours. This way you can come back to it with fresh eyes. Read it over when you are ready. Try to read it from an observer perspective. While doing so ask yourself:
• What is the overall feeling in what you wrote? Did anything surprise you in any way?
• What are the dominant themes and feelings that came through? During the birth? Now?
• What are the pivotal points that caused the birth to go down the path that it did?
• What parts seem the most triggering?
Step 2 – Birth Belief Check-In
Even if you coped well during an unexpected, harrowing, or difficult birth it is easy to assume a negative belief about oneself. This can happen unconsciously and you can begin to live as though that belief were true.
Thinking over your birth story ask yourself:
• Is this something I had expected or was prepared for?
• Do I feel like I coped?
• Have I previously judged others who experienced this same event in their births?
• What do I believe that this moment means about me?
• Who would I be if I did not have this belief?
• What would I do differently?
• How true is this belief? Is it always true OR only true some of the time?
What happened at your birth has happened. If you carry the beliefs from it with you into the present then it is as if your birth continues to happen over and over again. Imagine leaving your negative beliefs behind. What beliefs would you replace them with? Are they beliefs that were true about you before you had your baby? Are they new beliefs that you can discover doing this exercise?
Learn more about birth healing in my next post HERE
All of these steps take time. Be gentle with yourself. If you are struggling, please reach out.
I offer a coaching program specifically designed to help heal a tough birth experience. Other mothers who have worked with me have been able to look back on their birth with a feeling of love, and positivity through the work we did together.
You can book a discovery call HERE to explore if this program would be a good fit for you.
Bronwyn Addico is a Birth and Postpartum Doula, a certified Dancing For Birth TM instructor, a certified Birthing From Within TM mentor. She offers virtual birth and new parenting coaching in addition to her in-class sessions. Bronwyn focuses on empowering her clients to find the tools within themselves to thrive during pregnancy, birth, and early parenting. Bronwyn is a single mother to 2 wonderful kids. She is able to share a wealth of information based on her vast array of parenting experiences.