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Dealing with Traumatic Birth Experiences…

Birth Trauma,Mothers and Babies. — admin @ 1:15 pm

The birth of your baby is usually a time of celebration for you and your family. This may ring true for lots of women who have had good experiences of pregnancy and giving birth. But it is not always the case and women and babies can be left traumatised after negative birth experiences. This trauma can affect everyday living, where a mother has huge difficulty getting over her experience. The current medical model of childbirth here in Ireland seems to give out the message that if a mother and baby are healthy, one should be grateful for that. This leaves women feeling unable to speak out negatively about their experiences. However, a traumatic birth experience can affect a mothers relationship with herself, her new baby, her partner, her other children and extended family.

Giving birth is a life event. It is a very vulnerable time for you. If you have had an overwhelming traumatic experience, your body will have gone into shock, both physically and psychologically.   Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD happens when a person remains stuck in psychological shock. This can happen following traumatic birth.  You may be reliving your traumatic birth through flashbacks and nightmares, leaving you unable to reconnect in your relationships. It can be difficult for you to feel safe again as it may have felt like a life or death experience. This can leave you lacking in confidence with your ability to be a good mother to your baby. Other symptoms can include being irritable, depressed, lacking in concentration or being angry.  It is normal to feel frightened, sad and anxious following such an event. Many mothers describe a feeling of going crazy. For others there is a numbness about the whole event. There can be a deep sense of loss around one’s expectations for giving birth and how it actually turned out.

In our practice here at Counselling Connections, we have met mothers whose experiences may have been recorded medically as “normal” but the woman’s experience felt far from normal. Even a ‘natural’ birth can be experienced as traumatic. Through counselling we can help you work towards feeling safe and in control of your life again. We do this by facilitating you in processing the memories and emotions associated with your experience in a safe, confidential environment. It is only when the experience is felt and understood that it will stop hurting so much.

Trust your instinct; hold your baby.

Mothers and Babies. — admin @ 10:49 am

We are noticing in our work with you who are new mothers that there is a need for greater awareness of what you really need in the weeks and months after giving birth. Many of you come to our attention through becoming postnatally depressed. It can be an emotionally and physically draining time. There are many new adaptations to be made in the early weeks and strange and all as it may seem there are also many losses to mourn at this time.
One of specific problems we see you encounter is a social pressure to leave your baby with family and friends so that you can have some ‘time to yourself’. This rarely works for the new mother. There is no doubt that as a new Mother you need support and sleep but time spent away from your baby in the early weeks can often leave you feeling more anxious and upset. This can have an adverse effect leading to a deeper level of depression and a feeling of worthlessness. Here’s why…..
During pregnancy you have been intimately connected to your baby for nine months. It’s a long time. Your baby knows your every breath and heartbeat and is attuned to your voice. He is safe and protected while in your womb and you are providing the ultimate protection for him. The bonding process has already begun and you are forming an attachment that for your baby will be the template for which all other relationships are formed during his lifetime. With breastfeeding and skin to skin contact, there is a continuation of that intimate bodily connection between you. You get to know your baby’s cues and are able to read his needs like no one else. Love hormones are flying all over the place leaving you feeling relaxed and in love with your baby. This in turn combats depressive feelings as endorphins (the ‘feel good’ hormones) are released into your bloodstream just as they are when we exercise. So cuddling your baby can do more good than several hours in the gym. This is the way nature intended it but is all too often not the way it works out.
Feeling very protective of your vulnerable little baby is a natural instinct therefore feeling reluctant to leave your child is normal. You are meant to feel that way so don’t apologise or feel bad about it. Mothers are incredibly instinctive when it comes to their babies and new mothers must be facilitated in tuning into and trusting that instinct. There is no better mother for your baby than you. Yes, your own mother or the midwife may be more skilled at changing your baby’s nappy but they can’t do it with the same love that you will do it with. Grow in confidence that if you are doing it with love to the best of your ability (considering physical discomfort and lack of sleep) then there is nothing better for your baby.
For the most part in the third world, babies are carried by their mothers with a sling until the baby is ready to walk. But here in the developed world, we often insist that what new mothers need is time away from their babies. Not so… what a new mother needs is support to be with her baby until it feels right to her to begin the separation process. When this is decided by anyone outside of this dyad it will result in problems. Friends and family can best help in practical ways with household chores, rather than offering to feed and bathe and babysit. And just to dispel any myths, you cannot spoil a newborn baby…. Trust your instinct to pick him up when he cries. He needs you and you need to cuddle him and soothe him. That’s what Mommies are for…. And you know the payoff will be a far more contented baby and Mother.

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