How Prevalent is Childbirth Trauma?

13 05 2013

Trauma in childbirth doesn’t necessarily have to be felt psychologically. It can be something the body experiences physically. When it’s classified as “normal”, it is not accepted as “trauma”, but it still is. This is how someone could feel totally satisfied mentally about their birth, but still undergo a level of trauma.

Obviously, the reverse is true too. You could feel trauma on a psychological or other level, even though it may not be apparent physically to some.

Now, because the brain and body work closely together (wink), where there is one type of trauma, there is often the other. If your body feels traumatized on a level you are not conscious of, you may still feel unexplainable psychological effects. When you confuse the body, the brain may follow. And vice versa.

The mammalian needs in labor/birth to have a true safe, physiological experience (as described by people such as Michel Odent) requires an undisturbed birth that honors darkness, silence, warmth, and (relative) solitude (or non-observation/interference).  Human beings are mammals, but we tend to give other animals more respect in birth than we give to ourselves and each other.

Plenty of women who have become mothers have unresolved issues or feel a level of imbalance and cannot trace the source. Trauma in childbirth is one reasonable leap regarding most. Most human beings have a plethora of “issues”, but childbirth and the ramifications of being traumatized during or as a result of is a colossal one– unmatched and practically universal amongst modern mothers. Not only can manifestations from trauma be traced to this one life-altering experience, but we also use motherhood as a way of identifying and defining ourselves. All of these provide for the perfect opportunity and cocktail for depression, emotional breakdown, mommy wars (reasons why women can’t just understand each other and be friends, constant comparison and cattiness), etc. If we felt no level of violence or trauma, and if we felt psychologically sound (in terms of being at peace with our choices, less defensiveness), we wouldn’t feel so threatened by others and so much of a need to fight against people who choose (non-abusive) different birth or parenting paths. Secure, well people do not fly off the handle in order to compete or attack with no provocation. Those who suffer from this would do well to receive assistance and support for healthy management of whatever issues or imbalances lie beneath the surface.

And this is just surmised through the observation of people who can articulate their thoughts. This says nothing for what the babies of traumatic birth feel and carry with them. Their first moments have lasting physical and psychological impacts, it would be logical to assume. Of course sometimes it manifests in an obvious physical way, but even more often it does not.

Looking around at the landscape in the parenting in birth worlds, I can answer my own question– it’s pretty damn prevalent. Looking around at the decay of society, which is the result in part to disconnect between women and children, overwhelming depression, economic and educational lapses, unwanted pregnancies, etc. … is it any wonder we see craziness everywhere we look? Healing the world is awfully hard when we’ve done all that we can to disrupt the natural hormonal and physiological beginnings of almost every new life entering this world.

Modern life and modern conveniences are not foolproof. We’ve made a trade-off when we’ve attempted to mechanize birth in lieu of comprehending birth mechanics.

There’s a reason for the phrase “peace on Earth begins with birth”. I take it quite literally. Helping others to understand it from this angle is my little part in trying to illuminate a pathway to more healing on this planet.


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