Here are two other steps to help you heal from a difficult birth experience. 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 birth. As you let yourself fully mourn what you had hoped for and start to renew trust in yourself and in your body, you will find renewed compassion for your birth.
(If you didn’t read my previous post you can find it HERE)
Step 3 – Mourning Your Birth
Our culture has a huge emphasis on healthy mom, and healthy baby as our birth outcome goals. In focusing on these two objectives we step over the grief process if you had a birth that was difficult or traumatic even though you and your baby are healthy.
It is possible to be happy that you have a healthy baby and feel hurt by your birth experience at the same time.
Grieving your birth is acknowledging that your birth did not go how you had hoped. It is acknowledging that your birth was difficult, or even scary. Grieving is giving yourself a safe space and time to feel the anger and sadness that this experience has caused.
Here are some grieving suggestions:
- Write a letter to your medical caregivers. This is not a letter you would send to them. Write out your feelings about what occurred and how they did help or how you wish they could have helped. Take it a step further and write a response from the caregiver’s point of view to yourself. You can also do this exercise with anyone else who you feel hurt or disconnected from because of your birth experience.
- Write a letter to yourself. What would the you who is alive 5 years from now want you to know about your birth? Write a love letter from that future you to your present-day self.
- Let it go in a symbolic way. Burn or bury your birth story, the letters you have written, and the negative beliefs you’ve carried.
- Have a “rebirth” ceremony. Recreate the environment you had hoped to birth in. Perhaps dim lights and massage in your bed with your partner, listening to the playlists you had prepared for your birth. Set aside several hours for this. Allow any emotions that come up for you to be expressed. When you are ready, pick up your baby the way you had hoped you would after he or she was born. Hold them the way you had hoped you would. Talk to your baby about the birth, and how much you love him or her. Afterward, have a cup of tea and take some time to journal about this ceremony.
Step 4 – Renewing Trust in Yourself and in Your Body
Many women who struggle with a difficult birth experience feel a sense of failure: their body failed them, or their voice failed them when they couldn’t find the words they need to express themselves. The word failure is in many birth medical terms, such as failure to progress. Deeper healing can occur by renewing love and trust in yourself and your physical body.
Here are some suggestions that could help:
- Holding yourself. This may feel awkward at first but keep holding yourself until this feeling passes. Doing this often can help. You and your body will come to appreciate this.
- Exercise. Any activity that helps you feel and appreciate your body’s strength such as weight lifting, rock climbing, going for a hike, or dancing are all things that can help.
- Having baths. Make this a celebration of yourself with candles, essential oils, Epsom salts, and so on. Just like holding yourself, do this often.
- Write a letter. If you feel like your body failed you write a letter to that part of your body about your feelings. Take it a step further and write a letter back to yourself from that part of your body.
- Art. Draw your image of your body in labour. Look at this painting when it is complete with compassion and love. Journal what you see in the painting and what you know to be true.