Birth Trauma Support
You will most likely have heard of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) when hearing about soldiers returning from war or people who have suffered from terrorist attacks, violent assaults or serious accidents. You may not necessarily have heard of it before as a consequence of a traumatic birth experience – Post Natal PTSD. Awareness of birth trauma is growing however, and what is becoming clear today is that it isn’t just a life-threatening birth that can cause birth trauma. For many women, other factors (during a normal birth) such as loss of control, loss of privacy or dignity, attitudes of the people around them, feelings of not being heard or being made to feel invisible, lack of information or explanation, or non-consensual medical procedures can also cause birth trauma.
It is also evident that women who have a history of abuse or have experienced previous traumatic situations of any kind are at greater risk of experiencing birth trauma symptoms following birth.
Birth can be complex and leave you feeling like you need to have your story heard. Even when things seem to have gone really well you can be left with feeling that something is missing. Sometimes after giving birth women feel the need to discuss the way things played out. Having a chance to talk through your birth and reflect on the events of the most important event in yours and your baby's life can help make sense of feelings and move forward particularly after a traumatic event. Birth debrief can be done via Zoom or in person with a qualified birth trauma resolution therapist with 10 years experience working with pregnant birthing women.
Birth Trauma Resolution
How Does ‘Rewind’ Therapy Work?
A birth trauma memory, once trapped in the amygdala – the emotional memory storehouse of the brain – fires anxiety and a panic response (fight or flight) when anything reminds them of the trauma. The ‘rewind’ technique is a fast, effective and safe way of removing the strong emotional charge that is attached to the birth trauma memory. By neutralising the emotions, the brain can process the memory and the hippocampus part of the brain can create a narrative for the event, so that it can be moved to the past and stored as a narrative memory in the neocortex part of the brain where normal memories are stored.
What Happens During a ‘Rewind’ Session?
There will be an initial consultation when you talk about your traumatic experience (if you wish) as well as your symptoms. This will include some birth trauma counselling.
The therapist will begin by relaxing you using deep relaxation techniques.
You will be asked to imagine yourself in a relaxing place of your choosing whereby you feel particularly safe, secure and relaxed.
You will be asked to imagine a television screen and a remote control to fast forward through the traumatic events from before they began until after they have finished, in a doubly dissociated state, at top speed on the screen.
You will then be asked to float back into yourself after the traumatic event and then relive the event backwards really quickly until before the trauma began.
This is done several times in a deep state of relaxation until the memory of the trauma does not trigger any strong, unwanted emotions.
The Benefits of ‘Rewind’ Therapy
The ‘rewind’ is a form of non-disclosure treatment, which means there is no need for you to offer details of the trauma if you do not wish to. This is particularly useful if you fear reliving the strong emotions attached to your traumatic birth experience.
The trauma therapy technique requires that you are taken into a deep state of relaxation. This means that intense states of arousal can be carefully managed and kept right down whilst you get in touch with the traumatic event.
Because you are in a deep state of relaxation, the therapist is able to access the reprogramming part of the brain so other beneficial techniques, such as rehearsing a future birth experience as being positive with the patient feeling calm and in control, can be used.
The ‘rewind’ therapy can also be used to prevent birth trauma. It is well documented that if a woman has suffered a previous trauma, such as sexual abuse or domestic violence or she has a close relative or friend who has lost a baby and she has listened to and imagined their suffering, she is more likely to have a traumatic birth experience. The ‘rewind’ therapy can, therefore, be used to remove the emotional charge from these memories or future imaginings, so that they are not triggered during birth.
The first session will take 80 mins and following sessions will be 45-50 mins.
Birth Trauma Support Group
Women may experience feelings of disconnection with their baby, or feel that bonding is more difficult. Some new mothers become over anxious about caring for baby and have feelings of being constantly "on high alert". This can affect every aspect of their lives from sleep patterns to their relationship with family and friends.
Sometimes the trauma can remain hidden until a subsequent pregnancy and suddenly the idea of birthing again can feel overwhelming. Even a visit to the hospital for a check up can trigger unwanted anxiety. Birth trauma may appear antenatally, through a previous traumatic experience that makes the thought of pregnancy, labour or birth frightening, leaving a women feeling terrorised and vulnerable by the thought of giving birth. Though the experience of birth trauma is unique to every women, there is a treatment that can help. Below is a link to birth trauma support Ireland which is a wonderful resource for anyone who has suffered a birth related trauma, be it recently or many years ago. This is a safe place to support and share.