I've shared some of my experience of birth trauma and how it affected my postnatal experience on my blog awhile ago but because it is #birthtraumaawarenessweek I'm sharing it and what I learned from it again.
I had hoped to have my first baby at home but circumstances were that we needed to transfer to hospital. After a long labour he was eventually born by caesarean. He also had an infection which meant we had quite a lengthy hospital stay.
During this time I was trying to recover physically from surgery, coming to grips emotionally with a birth experience which had left me traumatised, finding my feet as a new mum and what it meant to have this tiny human dependent on me 24/7 for survival and figuring out how to breastfeed.
I felt a sense of loss of control. A loss of control over my birth experience, breastfeeding and how it was going, my expectations of life with a new born and life in general.
What I didn't realise was that I was also feeling was trauma and the impact it was having on me. I couldn’t talk about my birth experience for years without crying and feeling incredible anger and sadness at what had happened.
My relationship with my partner suffered, I struggled to cope with the lack of sleep and any kind of stress that I experienced.
Fast forward three years and I became pregnant with our now daughter. I had reflected a lot on my previous birth experience and I knew that I wanted to do things differently this time.
I started learning everything I could about how to better look after myself and plan what I now call a mothermoon.
My daughters birth was straight forward but after she was born I had a major postpartum haemorrhage due to a partially retained placenta which was removed in theatre under general anaesthetic. It was scary stuff. I remember just before being put under wondering if I was going to wake up. The first thing I asked when I did was if I was still alive. I definitely could have suffered trauma but because of what I'd learned the first time around I was better prepared to deal with the situation and look after myself.
To come out of that without any lasting emotional trauma is pretty significant and I credit that to the support I had around me and how I looked after myself.
No one goes into labour and birth planning to experience trauma, I certainly wasn't. But it happened to me and the experienced changed me. It's one of the reasons I'm so passionate about the work I do a s postnatal doula in helping women to prepare for the postnatal period and supporting them through it.
I don't promise my clients that they won't experience challenges or trauma but I can help them to be more prepared to navigate anything they do face and walk beside them while they do.