Overcome Birth trauma

Release that which no longer serves you.

Do you regularly regularly find that you replay the birth of your baby over and over in your head? 

Perhaps instead you experienced difficulties during pregnancy, or following the birth of your baby that keep returning to haunt you?

Are there past experiences preventing you from trying for a family, despite wanting nothing more?

 

In the UK an estimated 20,000 a year develop birth trauma (1).png

3 Step Rewind

3 Step Rewind is a fast, safe and effective psychological process that helps to free people from of trauma (including birth trauma) and phobias. It is complete online or in person, usually over the course of 3 sessions (read about the process below).

At Birthscapes I specialise in supporting parents and parents-to-be in relation to fertility, antenatal, birth and other perinatal trauma or phobia. 

Clients may come to me where they have experienced past trauma that is impacting upon their ability to plan for a baby, or where trauma resurfaces during pregnancy or following the birth of baby. 

I provide a 3 Step Rewind and Hypnobirthing package ('Your Healing Birth') which is particularly suited to birthing parents who have previously had a traumatic birth experience or where phobias are causing anxieties during pregnancy. By addressing trauma / fears in the first instance, parents are able to be more present and focused as we move into the hypnobirthing and birth preparation course, with much better outcomes overall when it comes to the birth of your baby.

What is Trauma?

A trauma response is caused by a particular difficult event, or series of events (known as 'stressors'). Our reaction to the 'stressor' will vary widely and the resulting response will be completely unique to the individual. A previous history of trauma can make us particularly vulnerable to experiencing future trauma. 

We can also respond to a traumatic event that we haven't directly experienced ourselves, such as witnessing an event or hearing about an event. 

Trauma may be caused by anything at all, from bullying in the workplace, to a difficult birth experience, surviving a pandemic, to living in a war zone. 

What defines trauma is how we interpret and respond to it. 

About 50-60% of people living in Europe will experience a traumatic event at some point in their life with only about 10% will develop PTSD. 

Many people will experience an acute reaction to this such as feeling very anxious, having trouble sleeping or wanting to withdraw from others, however these symptoms will  disappear once the person feels safe again.

If these feelings last for more than a month, it may be that the person has been 'traumatised' and may have PTSD. 

What is Birth Trauma?

It's been estimated that up to 1 in 3 women who give birth may experience birth trauma, with a traumatic birth often having an impact on postnatal mental health and family relationships.

A key factor as to whether a birthing parent experiences an event as traumatic or not is the subjective experience of the individual and often relates to birthing parents / women feeling uncared for during such a vulnerable time. 

During birth trauma may be caused by:​

  • A threat (e.g. fear of injury / death, whether real or perceived)

  • Poor communication (e.g. not being listened to; not having things explained; being coerced)

  • Physical trauma (e.g. injury / surgery)

The birth itself may not have been traumatic, but perhaps events around it were, this may be in relation to fertility complications, experiences during pregnancy, the postnatal period, feeding challenges, amongst many other difficulties that an expectant or new parent may experience.

How does it work?

As humans we are primarily supposed to reside in our relaxed state (within the parasympathetic nervous system / rest & digest state), and only experience our fear response (sympathetic nervous system / fight and flight response) on occasion (historically, this would be when needing to run away from a Sabre Toothed Tiger).

This is a healthy protective mechanism that has served us well in relation to evolution by allowing us to respond to danger fast.

However during this process, our amygdala (the part of our brain that controls fear) takes over from our thinking brain (the cortex), and causes our system to be flooded with adrenaline, cortisol and other stress hormones, increasing our heart rate and pumping those stress hormones to our muscles so that we are able to run away.

If a rabbit then pops out of the bushes instead, our brain then tells us that it's okay and safe and our amygdala then calms down and we go back into our state of rest and relaxation.

In a traumatic situation, the connection between the cortex and the amygdala doesn't re-establish and we are then stuck in a loop of fear and / or anxiety, which means that we are never able to fully enter back into rest and relaxation and we can often end up feeling on edge, replaying what happened in our minds, experiencing feelings of fear / anxiety / anger and even find that we may disengage or disassociate

The Rewind process re-establishes the connection between the cortex and amygdala, so that the cortex tells us that the event is over and we can relax. 

Tiger

So many times mothers who have had difficult birth / perinatal experiences, may feel retraumatised when other women (friends or strangers) are pregnant or have babies, taking us back to those difficult feelings and memories, or where we pass by a hospital or a certain place linked to our experience.

There is such a huge distance between the realities of motherhood and the ideals that society has led us to expect and women are left feeling not only disappointed and distressed about their own experience, but also that they should not be distressed and instead should be 'coping' and confirming to these ideals. As a result, many women are left feeling guilty and ashamed that they did not have a "perfect" birth and this can massively compound birth trauma, with many mothers feeling that their birth experience was a personal failure. This is if course so far from the truth, but it is a weight that many mothers carry. 

Mountains and Sun

The Process

The process is extremely simple, quick and effective and involves:

1. Providing a safe and non-judgmental space where you can share your experience (if you wish to do so); discussing how you imagine you would like to feel without this trauma / memories of this difficult event affecting you (eliciting your "goal state") and using this to inform your future sessions; leading you through a gentle relaxation. 

2. Guiding you into a state of deep relaxation and using a visualisation technique to help you remember the event in a way that feels "safe"

3. Visualising the future and how you will feel and interact once the memory no longer feels traumatic.

Three sessions are recommended to allow for the full process. 

Sessions usually last between 90-120 minutes and can be complete in person (depending upon your location) or online.

Most people I work with come to me with overwhelming feelings of trauma (rated at between 7-10 / 10) and at the end of our three sessions this has always (so far) reduced significantly (usually around 0-3 /10) with further reductions in associated stress often seen over the following days and weeks. 

 
Image by Andrei Miranchuk

"Tell your story.
Shout it. Write it. 
Whisper it if you have to. 
But tell it. 
Some won't understand it. 
Some will outright reject it. 
But many will 
thank you for it. 
And then the most 
magical thing will happen.
One by one...your tribe will gather.
And you will never feel alone again"
                      - L.R Knost