Pregnancy, labor, and birth experiences are different for each individual and couple. The conflict between expectations and reality can lead to feelings of disappointment, guilt, and failure. When some women speak of their birth story they say they feel traumatized by the experience, while others talk of feeling out of control and uninformed about the process and medical intervention. Mothers and fathers sometimes just feel that they were not listened to. It can be difficult when everyone is telling them how wonderful it all is and they’re struggling with how they feel internally about how the birth went. Some women find that their birth experience leaves them with unresolved feelings that cause increasing anxiety about their next pregnancy and birth, wondering whether they can face another similar experience.
Pregnancy and birth can be a particularly tricky time for sexual assault and abuse survivors. At a time when women are usually expected to be full of joy and anticipation, survivors can find that painful and difficult feelings related to the assaults and abuse are triggered.
This can be really hard to talk about especially when it is combined with the cultural taboo around disclosing negative feelings about motherhood. This can make it incredibly hard to acknowledge your feelings...even to yourself. Pregnancy, birth and even breastfeeding can bring you face to face with the physicality of your body. While this can be triggering if you have a conflicted relationship with your body, it does not have to be the end of it.
Knowing how you feel, you can then make plans to deal with any fears or vulnerabilities you have. This will increase your sense of autonomy and control which can only help you deal with the challenges ahead.
Common reasons for seeking birth counseling:
Traumatic birth experience
Undesired birth experience; birthing options not as you hoped
Fear of another pregnancy and birth
History of childhood sexual abuse or sexual assault
Birth counseling sessions provide the opportunity to have a non-judgmental conversation in a safe space where you will be heard and cared for. The work done in these sessions allows for the recognition of potential triggers and a strategy development with the mother/family to reduce their impact on labor, childbirth and the postpartum period. We can help you write a very specific birth plan to help avoid triggering events and are willing to accompany you to a visit with your provider to discuss it if desired. We also provide recommendations for therapists who can provide ongoing postpartum support if you wish to address these experiences in more depth.
Our goal is to avoid re-traumatization and for your birth to be a healing experience.