‘I’m a new mum and I had a really bad birth experience which I haven’t quite got over yet- is this normal?’
I was asked this question for a mother and baby magazine:
Yes it is completely normal. Having a traumatic experience and suffering from birth truma is not something that you can just forget or sweep under the carpet – no matter how many times people tell you that you should be grateful or happy that you have a healthy baby! No one can go back and change the events of your birth, however with time, gentle support and guidance you can change how you feel about the birth, and begin to look to a time in the future when you will no longer feel this way.
Do not feel that you have to hurry to get over it or to move on. Take your time to come to terms with the fact that your experience was not as you had hoped and that you have strong emotions that need time to heal.
Steps to help yourself.
Talk about your experience with someone you trust. Find someone who will simply listen and not try to give you advice or to judge your view of what happened.
Ask your maternity unit for a full debrief of your birth experience. This will help you have a better understanding of what happened and to put things in context. Some hospitals now have post birth support groups so you can talk about what happened in a safe, supportive setting. They will also have details of counsellors for you to talk to.
There are several charities and support groups such as the Birth Trauma Association which have local support groups as well as a supportive closed Facebook group.
Write down your birth experience as you remember it now in as much detail as you can. Then put it in a sealed envelope and post it to a made up address. Then write down 5 – 10 good things that you remember about the birth – no matter how small for example the sun was shining, the midwife had a nice smile, and put it somewhere safe to look at when you are feeling a bit down.
Seek out self help books and stories on line. It can be comforting to read about other people’s experiences and how they got through the difficult times.
Use a self hypnosis album such as Healing Birth Trauma which offers you a calm, gentle voice to help you cope better, especially during difficult times. It will help you take time out to relax and allows you to gently reflect on and begin to let go of the negative feelings associated with your experience. It helps build your confidence, feelings of control and acceptance of what happened, so are able to move forward with a sense of hope that you will not always feel the way you do right now (the album does not require to you to relive the experience at all).
By using self-help techniques, coupled with the support of sympathetic friends and family, it is completely possible to come to terms with the difficult birth you experienced, accept the feelings associated with it and rediscover your emotional balance and well-being.
This blog looks at how Paul’s journey took him from coping with a traumatic birth to being an integral part of an inspirational birth.
Having met Nadine a few times I knew how much a positive birth experience had meant to her. Especially after the difficulties she had with her first labour. However, as often happens, a father’s perspective of the birth can be somewhat overlooked.
I was therefore so pleased when Paul sent me this video. He gives his perspective of their first difficult birth experience during which he felt like during which they both felt very unprepared and somewhat overwhelmed. Paul especially felt like a bystander and felt unable to support Nadine in effectively.
When Nadine became pregnant again, they felt so strongly that they wanted to find a different way. Initially, like many partners, Paul was somewhat skeptical about hypnotherapy and had a misguided view of what it meant. However, he goes on to explain so clearly how his view changed once he understood what Natal Hypnotherapy was all about and how much it helped him have a proactive and important role and ultimately an inspirational birth experience.
I won’t give too much away but words like motivational, inspirational, positive, uplifting were words he used to describe the second birth experience.
You can watch his interview here
You can watch Paul and Nadine’s inspirational birth experience on Channel 4’s “One Born Every Minute” at 9pm on August 12th
When I was approached by the producers of One Born Every Minute, explaining that one of the women who was being filmed for the programme was using Natal Hypnotherapy, I was somewhat nervous as in the past we have had negative experiences in the way TV shows portray women using Natal Hypnotherapy. However, I also realised that this would be an amazing opportunity to of women that birth can be a positive, calm and empowering experience. I had never met the lady and had no idea what her background was however I knew from years of experience that Natal Hypnotherapy can help all types on women on so many different levels.
The producers put us in touch and I managed to have a few lovely conversations with her before the birth. She had had a very traumatic birth with her first baby and was adamant that she wanted things to be different this time round. She had done some research and come across the concept of hypnobirthing which she felt would be worth pursuing. However she had not been keen on some of the methods, as she felt they were too prescriptive, until she came across Natal Hypnotherapy. She only listened to the CD and read the book (cover to cover!) however the change in her feelings and attitudes towards the forthcoming birth changed beyond belief.
I then heard no more from her until 8am on a Saturday morning last year – She was still in the hospital and rang me just an hour after giving birth as she could not wait to tell me how the amazing and positive the birth was. By the end of the conversation we were both in tears! She really believed that having a positive birth experience was predominantly down to the techniques she had learnt using Natal Hypnotherapy. She was on cloud nine and could not stop telling me how wonderful it was and how amazed the midwives were. I was thrilled beyond belief for her but also relieved that her experience had been so positive.
Then started the long wait for her birth to finally be shared with millions of viewers! I have since met her a few times – once when she came to talk at a student midwives study day – it was such a pleasure and delight to see her talk about the birth with such passion and enthusiasm – and an even bigger delight to see the response from the midwives!
Then again when I filmed this lovely interview with her where she talks you through her experience.