Overlook Birth Trauma – How Were We Born

Recently I had encountered a spiritual talk on Spiritual Rebirther called Minood. A very interesting topic as it relates to birth. Though I did not sign up for the workshop. Later found out from a lady who attended the rebirth session. She shared her experience, remembered vividly her feelings during her journey into this world, her birth. She definitely made me realised what had I missed out. Not long after that, this lady invited me to attend a breathwork rebirth session. Immediately I signed up, not to miss this chance a gain.

Although I did not experience the Rebirth, I was amazed by how breath can connect to our brain and retrieve memory. The breathworker John Stamoulos lead me into searching just how birth trauma happens and how does it affect our life. He suggested that I ask my mother how was I born, same time, recommended a book called Birth Without Violence by Dr. Frederick Leboyer. This book gave me the inspiration to replay “the scene”.

Pretend You are the Baby – How does it feel “being inside”?

Let’s imagine that you are the baby resting in the comfort of your mother’s womb. Warm, surrounded by the buoyancy of the amniotic fluid, squashing against the wall of the uterus, relatively dark and quiet inside, at least not so loud.

So much as we think you, the unborn baby cannot feel, hear or see.

You feel everything through vibration, rhythm, light and even your mom’s emotion through the placenta.

Now you are physically ready to experience the transition into an unfamiliar world.

You are Moving Slowly Through the Birth Path

Now you’re ready to meet your mom and dad.

The wave or surge, contraction is the medical term for it, moves you down to the squeezy narrow tunnel, the birth path.

The constant pushes and pulls move your body, most of the time it’s your head closer to the birth path.

Now you feel the fear and the tension that passes through the umbilical cord from your mom’s emotion.

The fear of childbirth, your mother and father’s own birth present in the room that causes more tension in your mom’s body, hence pain.

At this time, your mom is overwhelmed by the surges (contraction), the fear of pain and she tensed up resisting it.

You too sensed the fear and resisting moving along but you can not.

The muscles of the uterus work against each other, the outer muscle is trying to pull the inner muscles up prepare for your descend.

But her tension causes resistance, freezes the inner muscles making it more difficult for you to move pass the narrow tunnel.

Labor prolonged, mom is stressed and exhausted.

So are you being squeezed and pressed against the wall of the cervix. Can’t move!

Your First Feeling in this World

Finally, you have made it to crowning, feel the air for the first time through your head, your mom screams with every surge.

The more you move, the more she screams, so loud that you are shocked and scared. Finally your head is out, sudden bright light, too bright that you shut your eyes very tight.

Feel the cold air, very frightening, you want to breathe but your chest is still in the birth path, so tight that it makes the breathing impossible.

The Scream that Nobody Cares

Finally, your body is out, you are born. Immediately someone put a tube in your nose and mouth for suction, very uncomfortable.

What is going on? Panicking, you scream.

Being carried without hands or legs touching anything feels like you are hanging in the air and that you are going to drop any time.

Terrifying you scream with helplessness.

No body cares. The adults are so ignorant that they think how amazing you little person can scream so loud but ignoring the helpless scream.

Then another shock, your skin, your body is being rubbed by a dry rough towel, discomfort and even painful with all the rubbings.

The Sudden Cut Off of Oxygen Supply

Feeling the cold air in the throat is like burning sensation.

While you’re still adjusting to breathing the cold air through your lung, and suddenly your normal oxygen supply being cut off, your umbilical cord is being clamped.

Deprived from oxygen, startles and overwhelms by the sudden rush, you gulp for air, Roughly about 30% of your blood and nutrient is left in the cord.

Feeling weak with the rest of the blood supposedly in your body not being transported fully.

Nothing Familiar in This World

More, you are being taken away to the cold hard surface for weighing, follows by being wrap tightly in a dry cloth and finally you get to meet your mom and dad.

At last you feel the familiar rhythm, your mommy’s heartbeat, lastly by her side.

If your mother is not too exhausted, you may want to breastfeed you.

What Do You Sense?

Now how do you feel about this new world that welcomes you? Did you feel your connection with your mom and dad? Did you sense love and welcome from them.

The Journey into This World Can Be Traumatized

Although I portray this scene of natural birth without medical intervention that alone is enough for your baby perceives this new environment as threat. Let alone other medical intervention. Any changes in the years to come create fear, nervousness, anxiety and stress. The effect on the well being of this little fragile human being is immeasurable and can be life long.

Babies are Highly Sensitive

Babies are highly sensitive and communicable. They see, hear and feel their surrounding even in the womb. They remember although they may seem to forget as they grow up. The memory is imprinted in the memory bank.

What is Birth Trauma?

Often being overlooked from the babies’ perspective, birth trauma refers to the shocking experience that the babies feel during their journey into this world and the first hour after birth. This includes the environment and how the babies are being handled immediately after birth. Often shockingly struggling in facing the uncertainly in life, feeling loss, helpless, fear and no sense of security.

Major Kinds of Birth Trauma for The Babies

The major kinds of birth trauma result from forceps, Caesarean delivery, prolonged labour, a sudden switch to a strange environment and the handling of babies immediately after birth can frighten the babies. An assisted birth such as forceps, suction and forced pulling baby out can cause distress, pain and make them feel vulnerable. This can shape their belief lifelong that they often need assistance and lack confidence.

Side Effect of Early Cord Clamping

Early cord clamping deprived the supply of oxygen to the infant’s brain and cut off about 1/3 of the total blood volume to the baby that is used mainly to establish circulation through the child’s lung’s to start them functioning, the loss is a huge blow to the baby’s immune system and other complications.

According to Dr. Frederick Leboyer, author of Birth without Violence, when cord is clamp too early while the umbilical cord is still pulsating, the sudden cuts off of infant brain’s oxygen supply from the placenta before lungs begin to function causes sudden shock, hence panic to the baby to gulp for air. This oxygen deprivation making birth itself an extremely painful, confusing, and frightening experience for babies. The nature and length of birth can determine the state of a baby’s cranium (skull), and consequently influence the way his/her personality, intelligence and memory develop.

Even The Royal College of Cranio-Sacral Therapy says a common cause of colic in newborns is birth trauma. Never thought of that huh?

Babies Have Memory Even Before Birth

Babies have feelings even before they are born. Babies remember all the events after birth unconsciously even though they do not seem to remember when they grow up. Evidence showed during a hypnotherapy session, human can replay the scene during the time that the person was born.

“Who gets Birth Trauma?

The babies, mothers and even the father

In the medical term, birth trauma refers to women’s childbirth experience that causes the after effect.

An abstract from The Birth Trauma Association, UK as below:

“Birth trauma is in the eye of the beholder’
Cheryl Beck (Nursing Research January/February 2004 Vol 53, No.1)

It is clear that some women experience events during childbirth (as well as in pregnancy or immediately after birth) that would traumatise any normal person.
For other women, it is not always the sensational or dramatic events that trigger childbirth trauma but other factors such as loss of control, loss of dignity, the hostile or difficult attitudes of the people around them, feelings of not being heard or the absence of informed consent to medical procedures.

Research into the area is limited and, to date, it has largely focused on the importance of the type of delivery. It is clear however, that there are risk factors for Post Natal (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) PTSD which include a very complicated mix of objective (e.g. the type of delivery) and subjective (e.g. feelings of loss of control) factors. They include:

  • Lengthy labour or short and very painful labour
  • Induction
  • Poor pain relief
  • Feelings of loss of control
  • High levels of medical intervention
  • Traumatic or emergency deliveries, e.g. emergency caesarean section
  • Impersonal treatment or problems with the 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 damaged baby (a disability resulting from birth trauma)
  • Baby’s stay in SCBU/NICU
  • Poor postnatal care
  • Previous trauma (for example, in childhood, with a previous birth or domestic violence)

Finally, men who witness their partner’s traumatic childbirth experience may also feel traumatised as a result.”

Gentle Birth Provides a Smooth Transition for the Babies

Whether the transition from womb to birth is made slowly or brutally in panic and terror can make a difference between a gentle birth and a traumatized one.

Birth trauma is stored in the memory bank of each baby who is born, including our own. How we were born affect how we give birth. This includes the father as well.

Preconception Planning, Childbirth Education and Preparation are the keys to prevent birth trauma. Why not plan a harmonious beginning and a beautiful birth for your little one? Create a lifelong memorable birth story for your love ones.Learn

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