Birth is a life-changing process, no matter how much you prepare ahead of time you will be transformed in ways that can not be anticipated until you have gone through the journey of bringing your baby into the world. Birth is much more than just "healthy mom, healthy baby." Some parents love their birth experiences, some feel neutral about it, and some have a difficult, disappointing, or challenging experience.
These remembered experiences and feelings are different for everyone - no matter how the birth may have unfolded. According to research, one in four people experience their birth as difficult or traumatic (Beck). What can make a birth feel difficult? It is in the eye of the beholder. If some part of the experience felt sudden, overwhelming or dangerous, a family or a parent may struggle with integrating their birth. Even 2 people in the same birth room can have a vastly different experience.
So what do we do with that knowledge? If you are expecting, here are 4 ways to increase your chances of having a fulfilling birth experience:
1. Create a supportive team you trust before/during/after birth
2. Develop deep pregnancy/birth/postnatal coping tools
3. Bolster your individual strengths and trusted resources
4. Cultivate flexibility and internal resources for the unknown
If you've had your own difficult, disappointing, or challenging birth, here are 6 Ways to work with your feelings:
1. Be gentle with yourself and remember you have a lifetime of relationship with your baby.
2. Be patient with yourself as you move through the memories of the experience - it will take time, but it also depends on what you do with your time.
3. Develop self-care practices to re-regulate your nervous system, some ideas include: rest, journal, trauma informed yoga, gentle movement.
4. Body-work with professionals that understand the birth experience such as massage, pelvic floor physical therapy, Mayan abdominal massage, acupuncture.
5. Individual support beyond just talking about it, as that can be re-traumatizing, ideas include EMDR, psychotherapy, mindfulness practices & spiritual counseling
6. Attend the upcoming Transform Your Birth Story group which offers a supportive group and experiential techniques to embody and practice much of what is included here!
The implications of a difficult birth can be wide ranging - affecting everything from how you are in relationships (to self, siblings, partner, breastfeeding, baby, friends), to how you are able to function (sleep, rest, appetite, avoiding locations/memories). It is important to reach out for support! Things CAN be different.
Ready to work through the story of your birth experience in a multi-dimensional way? By connecting mind, body, and spirit wisdom you can achieve a new light in how you hold the memories within you, and this shifts how you experience your day-to-day life. Please join Jenevieve Russell, MA, LPC, CD and Rt. Rev Stacia Synnestvedt starting on April 17th for the Transform Your Birth Story series to connect in with some tangible ways to do this, as well as find the support of a circle of women who are also saying hello to the relationship they have with their birth story.
Due to the personal nature of this series, this is a closed group that started on April 17th...but the next series will be in the fall. Email Jenevieve for more information and to sign-up for the next series.