What is a 'Traumatic' Birth Experience?

It's simple. If a you describe your birth as traumatic, then it was a traumatic birth experience. End of!

Life with a new baby is Tough. Sleep deprivation. Feeding. Repetition. Isolation. CHANGE. So what if on top of that, you are mentally, emotionally and physically struggling to come to terms with your birth experience.

Some new parents adjust in their own ways and in their own time, and somewhere along the line realise they have moved on with their lives as a new family.

For some, the feelings associated with a difficult or traumatic birth linger. Stress, anxiety, hyper vigilance, flashbacks and nightmares can remain, making it harder to enjoy your new baby, and life as a new parent.

There's a commonly used phrase that goes: 'all that matters is a new healthy baby'. Of course a new healthy baby matters. But guess what? YOU. MATTER. TOO.

“All that matters is a healthy baby? This short-sighted attitude not only ignores the importance of the mother's health and wellbeing, it denies the impact this has on the health of the baby... The same baby which is supposedly the top priority."

Amy Meister-Stetson

How does this work ?

The support I offer to parents who have had a difficult birth, is two tiered. You choose the level if support that matches your needs.  Sessions are available to both parents (where appropriate).  It isn’t uncommon for men/partners to experience difficult feelings after witnessing something they perceived to be traumatic.

1) Single session.

Are you looking for someone to hold your space while you share your story? To listen with respect, validation, confidentiality and unwavering compassion in a safe and supportive space? Are you looking for someone to go through your maternity notes with to perhaps better understand what happened?  As a birth worker with a Social Work background I will use my listening and counselling skills to offer a non-judgmental opportunity for you to talk. You are invited to talk through as much or as little as you feel comfortable sharing and how it made you feel. The session will end with a guided relaxation and support around what you might want or need at your next birth.

Duration and venue: Approximately 2 hours.

2) Traumatic Birth Recovery 3 Step Rewind Technique (NEW TO NEW ZEALAND!)

I am excited to be the first ever TBR 3 Step Rewind Practitioner in New Zealand!

If, after 3 months of giving birth you find that thinking about, or being reminded of your birth experience, triggers an emotional response that is impacting on your day to day function, (flashbacks, nightmares, hyper vigilance, difficulty sleeping, irritable, anxiety, sadness or avoidance for example), then you may benefit from something more than just talking about your experience. Some parents experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PSTD) after a difficult birth.

Some trauma symptoms can be confused with Post Natal Depression (PND).  Anxiety and panic for example are symptoms of both disorders. Trouble sleeping can be present with both trauma and PND. Left untreated it is not uncommon for trauma symptoms to cause depression. Living day to day with trauma symptoms of high anxiety, hyper vigilance, anger, sadness, recurrent thoughts, nightmares and flashbacks can drag a person down into a very low mood and depression.

By treating the trauma symptoms first, a window of opportunity is created to tackle the other symptoms of PND.  This is where the 3 Step Rewind Technique comes in.

The 3 Step Rewind technique occurs in 3 stages:

  • Stage 1, session 1. The purpose of session 1 is to have your story heard (should you want to tell it, you don’t have to if you don’t want to), to understand how it is still impacting on your day to day life now and how you would like to feel if these feelings/ways of responding were lifted. I will take you through a guided relaxation and support you to imagine your future free of those feelings whilst deeply relaxed.
Duration and venue: Approximately 90 minutes.
  • Stage 2, session 2. In this session we use Rewind to re-process the memory of your birth so it no longer holds any emotional charge or anxiety. While deeply relaxed I will support you to play the memory of your birth in 3 ways  - a double dissociated state, dissociated state, and associated state, each time playing it through then rewinding it back to the beginning of the memory. I will then invite you, while still deeply relaxed, to imagine yourself in the future with the feelings you want to experience, so you can experience your future solution state whilst deeply relaxed. You remain in control at all times.
Duration and venue: Approximately 60 minutes.
  • Step 3, session 3.  This is an opportunity to check back with you to see that those changes have taken place.  The focus is to build confidence and resilience so that you no longer feel like you are owned by what happened and are able to begin enjoying your life again.
Duration and venue: Approximately 60 minutes.

The benefits of the 3 Step Rewind program:

  • This therapy is a brief intervention that seeks relief of PTSD symptoms after 2 or 3 sessions. Occasionally the process needs to be repeated but in the majority of cases people report a significant diminishing or complete eradication of symptoms and heavy feelings.
  • If talking about the traumatic birth experience makes you feel uncomfortable there is no need the share what happened to you. You will need to remember it yourself but you can do this without re-telling.
  • The stages are carried out around a week apart, so is brief commitment.
  • This treatment is equally effective 3 months after the event as it is 3 years or even longer after the event. If PTSD symptoms or heavy feelings are still evident then the treatment is useful in eliminating them. Or if you recognise that some of the unhelpful responses that you have day to day, as a result of what happened, then treatment can help.
  • The symptoms of trauma can often be addressed in 2 or 3 sessions. The symptoms and issues around PND can be more established and may require more sessions with a qualified mental health professional,  psychologist, hypnotherapist or psychotherapist.

    If you have questions, please do get in touch for your free phone or face to face consultation.