I wish I'd known about birth trauma

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.