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Last Updated on October 8, 2023
The term birth trauma covers a wide range of birthing experiences such as physical complications, medical interventions, physical or intellectual disability caused by birth injury to the child, as well as loss of autonomy. A traumatic birthing experience can have a profound and lasting impact on those involved. This impact can vary from person to person and should not be underestimated or dismissed.
Being an expectant mother who has previously suffered a birth trauma, you may feel helpless, frightened, and out of control when approaching your due date. This is completely understandable, and in acknowledging this, you can consider steps that may help you to feel more in control and make the overall process less daunting.
Acknowledge Your Feelings
Although it may be difficult to think back on a traumatic experience, particularly if there is a resulting intellectual disability caused by birth injury, this is a key step to acknowledging your feelings. What fears, anxieties, or emotions have resulted from your previous experience? In understanding your feelings and where they are rooted, you can look at what plans can be put in place to lead to a more positive birthing experience this time.
Seek Professional Support
Consider support from a mental health professional who specializes in perinatal mental health and birth trauma. They may help you reflect on your previous trauma, helping you to work through those emotions and develop coping strategies that will work for you. A mental health professional might recommend a therapy such as trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy.
Create a Birth Plan
In creating a detailed birthing plan, you can outline your preferences, coping strategies, and any potential triggers. This can then be shared with anyone involved in your care or loved ones who will be on hand to support you. The plan is individual to you, so you can be specific about pain management instructions as well as the environment you would like for your labor. While this plan can help you to feel more in control, it is important to remember that birth can be unpredictable. You may want to think flexibly about what alternatives you would be comfortable with should plans have to be adjusted at the last minute.
Involve Your Partner
If you have a partner or friend who will be with you throughout the birth, involving them in the planning process can ensure that they are ready to provide the support you need during labor. Knowing your preferences as well as your worries and anxieties can ensure that they can be a good advocate for you.
Practice Relaxation Techniques
Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, mindfulness, and visualization, can reduce anxiety and help to promote a sense of calm during birthing. Practicing before your due date will help you call on these techniques more easily when needed.
It is important to remember that you have the right to advocate for yourself and what support you feel will make your birthing experience more positive. Taking the time to self-reflect and consider the above steps will help you to feel more in control and prepared for your impending labor.