What is a Traumatic Birth Experience?

If a you describe your birth as traumatic, it was a traumatic birth experience. Period.

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 birth trauma do not fade. 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. New parents matter to.


“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 had a difficult birth, is two tiered.

I offer these sessions to both parents (where appropriate).  It isn’t uncommon for men/partners to experience difficult feelings after witnessing something they perceived to be traumatic.

a) Listening service

Are you looking for someone to hold your space while you share your story? To listen with respect, care,  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 parents to talk. I do this by inviting parents to talk through as much or as little as they feel comfortable sharing and how it made them feel, while validating their experience. The session will end with some grounding exercises and some ideas for what you want or need at your next birth.

This is a one off session, approximately 2 hours in the comfort of your own home.

b) 3 Step Rewind Technique  (coming soon)

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, saddness or avoidance for example), then you may benefit from something more than just talking about your trauma. 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 is called such because it occurs in 3 steps:

  • Step 1

This is the pre-work and an opportunity for me to hear your story and understand the changes you would like to experience with the symptoms lifted. There is absolutely no pressure for you to tell your story if it is too painful. I am still able to guide you through the technique so you may begin working on your healing without knowing your story.  After this we will also talk about your feelings and as well as how want to feel.  We will practice some relaxation and breathing techniques in preparation for step 2.

  • Step 2

This is the Rewind technique. I will carefully explain the technique to you so you understand how it works. I will then support you through a relaxation that invites you to play the memory of your birth in 3 ways  - a double dissociated state, and 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 relaxed, to imagine yourself in the future with the feelings you want to experience. You remain in control at all times.

  • Step 3.

This is the Follow-up session. I will ask you how you feel after step 2, and create an opportunity to reflect how you feel about your birth trauma, to together plan how best to move forwards. If need be, we can repeat step 2, or we can conclude with a final guided relaxation about your future self with symptoms lifted.

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.
  • I can come to you.
  • Steps 1 and 2 can be done in one session. I will come back a week or so later for step 3.
  • 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 get in touch for your free phone or face to face consultation.