Maternity Diaries: Birth Trauma - "When My Most Memorable Moments Become My Most Vulnerable" (2023)

Maternity Diaries: Birth Trauma - "When My Most Memorable Moments Become My Most Vulnerable" (1)

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The trauma of childbirth affects a staggering number of New Zealand women, yet the topic is rarely discussed. So what happens when one of the happiest days of your life turns into the scariest day of your life?

Welcome to our Mother's Diaries series - a safe place to share your experiences, advice, hopes and heartbreak. We've heard practical advice from industry experts, and Capsule readers (you!) share their first-hand experiences. we see everythingFertility,trying to conceive,Pregnant,fourth trimester, mental health of newborns, toddlers, children and adolescents,Fertility problemsüand everything in between!

The psychological trauma of birth has only recently been understood and communicated. In this article, Birth Trauma Aotearoa founder Kate Hicks shares her own experience and what led her to create the My Birth Story support website and the charity that has recently worked on behalf of the Aotearoa birth trauma community.

I remember something from my first birth - I remember rushing to pack my hospital bag and rush from home to the hospital.

I remember the walls and curtains of the maternity ward being a certain cream color. I remember falling asleep in the labor pool between contractions - the contractions were very strong on the CTG chart and were uninterrupted for 16 hours.

Maternity Diaries: Birth Trauma - "When My Most Memorable Moments Become My Most Vulnerable" (2)

I remember the team in the operating room taking turns introducing themselves, and when they were all done, I said, "I'm Kate, mother," and the staff burst out laughing.

I remember vomiting and shaking uncontrollably as the seven layers of my body were stitched together after an emergency C-section.

I remember a lot about my first birth; there are many more I want to forget. But I never will, so I draw strength from this experience that inspires me to help others.

I'm not used to sharing too many details about my own story - even though I've been working in the field of birth trauma for the past seven years, I know how powerful it is to share a story.

Birth trauma is a concept I only learned about four months after giving birth. My (excellent) midwife said this when I told my (excellent) midwife that I was still very "upset" about the birth of my daughter, but I couldn't understand why I felt that way.

I know it's not postpartum depression. I'm nervous, but I didn't expect it to be like thispostpartum anxietyfrom.

What exactly is a birth injury?

Trauma is how our bodies and brains protect us from real or perceived danger. Birth trauma is associated with pregnancy, childbirth, childbirth andearly postpartum.

When we sense danger, our brains immediately send us into fight-or-flight mode to protect ourselves or our loved ones. It's a very, very normal thing to do with our brains and our bodies -- it's about survival, and it's completely natural.

However, when the going gets tough, the danger is over, but we're trying to get out of the fight-or-flight situation. When We Go Through the Trauma of Birth, We Go Through Difficultiesband met the baby, breastfeeding problems, relationship problems, confusion and sadness, mistrust of medical professionals, anxiety, depression and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Maternity Diaries: Birth Trauma - "When My Most Memorable Moments Become My Most Vulnerable" (3)

There is little research on birth trauma, but few studies show that one in three newborns report their birth was traumatized - in Oteroa, that's about 50 a day They've been emotionally devastated since their baby was born.

It’s not just mothers and mothers who give birth – fathers, partners, support staff and medical staff experience birth-related trauma as well.

A tricky thing about birth trauma is that it's subjective—what it feels like to be traumatized to a person may not feel the other way around. People expressing grief over their birth are often met with demeaning attitudes of "at least the baby is okay" and "what are you waiting for, it's born?!"

Having a traumatic experience is always an individual decision and everyone deserves support no matter what happens - what matters going forward is how we feel about our birth.

Traumatic experiences can come from anywhere, but some of the most common reasons include a birth experience that was completely different from what was planned, fear for your own or your child's life, surgery performed without consent, system failure, poor pain management or care by staff, infants requiring intensive care (NICU) orlost baby, and have caused abuse in the past.

But whatever the cause of the trauma, we must be gentle with ourselves and remember that our reactions to these threats are completely normal and we deserve support as we process the experience.

So, where is this support in Aotearoa?

After experiencing it firsthand, I seek out sources to help me understand what I just experienced, to remind myself that I have done nothing wrong and that I am not making a fuss over a molehill. But I came up with very few, hardly anything based on Aotearoa.

I can't be the only one who thinks this way, can I?

Surely I'm not the only one coming out of this life changing experience feeling this way?

I was right - after discussing the idea of ​​a support tool for Aoteaora with many people and staff in the maternity care industry, the answer was "Yes! We need this!"

The next two years were filled with conversations, meetings and learning as I grewmy birth story website

Maternity Diaries: Birth Trauma - "When My Most Memorable Moments Become My Most Vulnerable" (4)

Driven by need and with the help of some other generous volunteers to gain first-hand experience, my birth story was launched in 2018, just before the birth of my second child.

My Birth Story offers comfort, validation, and options for support to anyone who has had a negative or traumatic birth experience. Since its launch, the site has had a steady stream of visitors from New Zealand and around the world.

People need to know that their experiences matter, how they feel, and they need to know where to find support. A website is an ideal choice because it can be accessed anywhere, anytime, with complete anonymity.

Since starting my birth story, my work in space has evolved into education and advocacy. As I continue to do this work, I can see very clearly what more needs to be done if we are to truly reduce the incidence of and support for birth trauma.

So I spent another two years building an organization with the goal of making this change happen.

Maternity Diaries: Birth Trauma - "When My Most Memorable Moments Become My Most Vulnerable" (5)

Birth Injuries in New ZealandIt's only been around for a short time, but in that time we've been able to advocate for parents and families through various policy meetings, campaigns, council meetings and support service programming.

Our work includes education, advocacy, research and support - and while we are a new and small organization run entirely by volunteers, we are strong advocates for women, fertility and childbirth. We know our communities deserve trauma-free births, and when birth injuries inevitably occur, we deserve fantastic support.

Aotearoa Birth Trauma puts equality at the heart of what we do. Due to various factors - racism and colonization, capacity, lack of care for rural families, etc. - people experience inequalities in care - we only have to look at the statistics to find examples of unacceptable.

Part of Birth Trauma Aotearoa's role is to work to remove these barriers to equality so that everyone has equal access to safe maternity care. Everyone deserves the supportive, well-resourced, best-practice, and consumer-centered health care that is most necessary when welcoming children into the world.

As Birth Trauma Aotearoa moves forward, our work will continue to advocate for improved and equitable resources in the maternity sector, we will continue to educate so that people value the experience of childbirth as much as what happens physically, and we will conduct extensive Research so that if we have a comprehensive understanding of birth trauma in Aotearoa, we will develop client-centred care activities and develop a compassionate support network to help people recover.

I had great support from my partner, family, midwives, Kay and the medical professionals involved in the birth of my daughter, but I know what it's like to have a baby and then feel like you're floating on the ocean alone, don't you know no Know where to go or what to do.

Birth Trauma Aotearoa is dedicated to providing a safe haven for people to thrive in their new parenthood, not just survive. We are honored to have done this work.

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