Childbirth Trauma

Pregnancy sets up many expectations. Its an time of expecting that’s full of hopes and dreams for the baby: what kind of childhood and life is in store, how can the parent support her on her path to a bright future?

As part of the plan, some new mothers anticipate a relatively, calm, natural and fulfilling labor. Childbirth is the gateway to Motherhood. It is common for moms to use the birthing experience as a base for their sense of motherhood and it can shape their relationship with the baby.

Birth Trauma puts a serious wrinkle in those expectations, to say the least. It’s a very real issue and very common. 1 in 4 first time mothers sustain significant injuries. And only about 25 percent of women have a non-traumatic normal vaginal delivery that has not done serious damage to their pelvic floor or their anal sphincter.[1]

Trauma can be the result from labor and childbirth and can also be a consequence of how the mother is left feeling about these experiences. She might have experienced pain or physical distress while giving birth. Or her labor or childbirth may have required medical intervention (actions taken by the attending medical professionals if the health of mother or baby is considered to be at risk) that she wasn’t prepared for. [2]

It is common for women to describe their labor as ‘normal’, even if they are left with confusing, on-going symptoms such as anxiety – including for the health of the baby – or low mood. A mother’s fear for the well-being of her baby or herself following interventions or a life threatening situation can be very traumatic. These fears and anxieties can interrupt the mother’s ability to be available to and bond with her baby. [2]

some of the factors that make birth trauma more likely are:

  • Lengthy labor or short and very painful labor
  • Induction
  • Poor pain relief
  • Feelings of loss of control
  • High levels of medical intervention
  • Forceps births
  • Emergency Cesarean section
  • Impersonal treatment or problems with staff attitudes
  • Not being listened to
  • Lack of information or explanation
  • Lack of privacy and dignity
  • Fear for baby’s safety
  • Stillbirth
  • Birth of a baby with a disability resulting from a traumatic birth
  • Baby’s stay in the special care baby unit or neonatal intensive care unit
  • Poor postnatal care
  • Previous trauma (for example, in childhood, with a previous birth or domestic violence)[3]

There are four main symptoms of Birth Trauma- PTSD:

  • Re-experiencing the traumatic event through flashbacks, nightmares or intrusive memories. These make her feel distressed and panicky.
  • Avoiding anything that reminds her of the trauma. This can mean refusing to walk past the hospital where she gave birth, or avoiding meeting other women with new babies.
  • Feeling hyper-vigilant: this means that mom are constantly alert, irritable and jumpy. She worries that something terrible is going to happen to her baby.
  • Feeling low and unhappy (“negative cognition” in the medical jargon). She may feel guilty and blame herself for the traumatic birthing. She may have difficulty remembering parts of the birth experience.[3]

Not everyone who has had a traumatic experience suffers from PTSD, but many do. It’s a completely normal response, and not a sign of weakness. It’s also involuntary: brain scans show a difference between the brains of people with PTSD and those without. PTSD is not something that can be cured by “pulling yourself together” or “focusing on the positive,” despite what other people tell you. [3]

This mis-understanding of what is going on with the new mom is isolating, leading to loneliness, feeling weak and depression. To be clear Birth Trauma PTSD is not the same as Postnatal Depression (PND), although they can overlap.

What can a Mother do?

Emotional Resolution, or EmRes, can be key to helping mothers with Birth Trauma PTSD to release the emotions that were trapped before, during and after their birthing experience. It works with PND as well.

Using both EmRes one-on-one sessions and learning EmRes-Self to use on their own, the traumatized mother can turn the corner on the emotions that are fogging their maternal time and lead to better self-care for herself and more wholesome relationship with her new family member.

Book EmRes one-on-one sessions

EmRes-Self class description and schedule

References
1. Birth trauma impacts go beyond women
2. Childbirth trauma
3. What is birth trauma?

Fear is a Fearsome Thing

I think everyone has, at one time or another, had a fear or phobia of some kind. Some fears are not as bothersome, especially if you don’t encounter the fear trigger very often. Like the duck-watching-me fear, anatidaephobia, if you don’t encounter many ducks, or are in environments where duck are likely to pop up, then may be relatively manageable. Well…it turns out that anatidaephobia is not a real phobia, It was created by “Far Side” cartoonist Gary Larsen and went so viral that it was included in a commercial advertisement for Aflac, an insurance company that has a duck “watching over” its customers.

BUT, Fears and Phobias are very real and very debilitating to individuals in the presences of their fear trigger. Specific phobias are described by The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5) as an excessive and irrational fear of a specified object or situation. The DSM-5 categorizes specific phobias into 5 categories:

  • Animal Types (dogs, snakes, spiders, etc.)
  • Natural Environment Types (thunder storms, floods, earthquakes, etc.)
  • Blood-Injection-Injury Types (seeing blood, getting medical treatment involving blood, witnessing medical procedures, etc.)
  • Situational Types (elevators, airplanes, small spaces, etc.)
  • Other Types (fears of contracting an illness, fear of choking, etc.)

These are anxiety disorders that include a persistent, irrational fear. When exposed to the feared item/situation, the person has an extreme anxiety response (panic attack, screaming, freezing, etc.). The person may avoid the feared stimuli at all costs and it may impact their daily life and overall functioning.

The person may know that the response is irrational, but that does nothing to calm the panic brought on by the trigger/situation. For them, in that moment, it may feel like life or death to get away from the fear trigger.

Traditional therapies use treatments that gradually expose the person to the trigger, which helps them overcome the fear by reeducating the brain to reduce the panic and anxiety until they can tolerate the trigger.


Sometimes we do, but often we don’t know where the phobia came from. It is either too concealed in the past or can be the result from a number of small-ish but seemingly unrelated frightening events. And, even if we did know the cause, is unlikely to be helpful in removing the phobia.

With Emotional Resolution (EmRes), the client is asked to recount the triggered event. The practitioner leads them thru a protocol of physical sensory awareness which releases the triggered emotion that is buried in the body causing the phobia.

Recalling the event using the Emotional Resolution protocol is not triggering. It is a calm recollection of the story about what happened. This is enough for the limbic system to recall the body memories of the emotion that incited the phobic reaction. The client remains calm, lucid and present during the session. The limbic system accesses the physical sensations, the emotion’s signature, which are used to release the emotion.

Fears and Phobias can be debilitating if they prevent you from “normal” activities. Help is available using Emotional Resolution. The results are immediate.

Are you ready to release your fears and phobias?

Book an Emotional Resolution session today

Grief and Mourning

Grief doesn’t happen in a vacuum. it happens along side of and mixed in with all these other emotions.


Nora McInerny

Grief and mourning are the emotional feelings we experience when someone or something in our life is irretrievably lost to us. Most commonly we think of a family member or close friend who has died.

Its when someone we love deeply is taken away from us and we don’t know what to do with those love feelings anymore. They have been literally torn away from us and we are fractured, oozing from our broken hearts.

Death and grief are something we all experience in our lives. If we are lucky enough to love fully, we may experience it many times. It is as inevitable as death itself….the companion emotion to death.

Because it can be so uncomfortable and it is an emotion, you’d think that grief would be something that we could resolve using the Emotional Resolution (EmRes) protocol. But in fact that’s not true. Grief is a process. It is a series of emotions that must be navigated. There are 5 stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. By working thru these emotions in mourning, we will once again reach an emotional equilibrium when it’s complete. The mourning process usually takes 3-4 months. There is way to short-cut this healing.

These experiences of grief, that mark us and make us are just as important as the joyful ones and just a permanently. Grief is a multitasking emotions where you will be sad and happy, you will be grieving and able to love in the same year or week, the same breath.


Nora McInerny

At the same time, grief is not a form of depression
“Some people conflate the terms grief and depression. They are not the same. Both infuse our lives with sadness, and both cause disruption, but the similarity ends there. Depression is a mental disorder. Grief is not. Bereaved people are sad because they miss a person they love, a person who added light and color and warmth to their world. They feel like the light has been turned off and they aren’t sure how to turn it on again. Depressed people are sad because they see themselves and/or the world as fundamentally flawed, inadequate, or worthless. They feel like the world has no light or color or warmth. There is no light to turn on.” [1]

Grief can inflate other emotional conflicts and issues that are already present in a person. Existing anger, abandonment, loneliness, self-doubt, fear and depression compounded with mourning can work to overwhelm any emotional processing. Put in terms we are more familiar with: think of a cut on your finger being grief and existing anger being an infection on the skin. The body/emotional system could handle either alone, but together, we’d have an infection in the cut. This situation is more complicated and both contribute to the slower overall healing. Usually we take care of the infection first and the cut will take care of itself.

The unresolved emotions that predate grief can slow down progress thru the 5 stages. As mentioned before, grief is not a candidate for emotional resolution, BUT those preexisting emotions are definitely contenders.

Working on preexisting emotions is an excellent way to allow the grieving process to move along it’s necessary path more normally.

It’s not a hard and fast rule, but if grief extends beyond 6 months there are other emotions complicating the mourning process. Do your self a favor: find a professional and a resolution them with Emotional Resolution. You will be glad you did.

I want to end this blog with a client story: Betsy [not her real name] had lost her dearly beloved husband 2 year before. Within 2 months of his death, she also lost her precious dog. One would have been a lot, but two so close together was overwhelming. Two years later, she was still crying every time she looked at their pictures. She had pictures around her house because she wanted to remember them. She didn’t mind the crying. She wanted to remember her husband and dog. But her friends thought it was too much and constantly bugged her about it, that she needed put away the pictures and move on. We resolved her crying when she looked at the pictures. At her next visit, she came in all smiles. She hadn’t cried at all since her last visit. Now she could happily look at the pictures and remember the good times and how much she loved them. She was so happy 🙂

Obviously this is my favorite grief client story. I’ve worked with other clients and their emotions that are holding up their mourning process. Usually it takes more that just the one session that Betsy had. But every time, they get relief from emotion that is troubling them.

Are you ready to put grief behind you and happily remember the good times?

Book an Emotional Resolution Session

References
1. Grief and mourning gone awry: pathway and course of complicated grief by M. Katherine Shear, MD