Trauma. That word evokes feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, injury, shock, disbelief, anger, sadness, despair. Trauma does not equally impact individuals. One person’s trauma may not be another person’s trauma. Our perception of a trauma is very important. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is about not only the trauma itself, but the individual’s perception of the trauma.
In terms of birth and birth trauma, it is very important to note that every birthing mother is is different. Quite recently, I have been completely involved with individuals who are very close to me with birth stories that are wildly different from mine. With every birth story I hear, I remember that I must withhold judgement about individual birth choices, as well as remember that violations of those individual choices can result in emotional and physical trauma.
In our society, women are often held to the “ideal” standard of an uncomplicated, unmedicated, vaginal birth with no postpartum complications. Women base their entire birth plans on this way of bringing their child into the world. Other women focus on delivery by way of cesarean section, basing their entire birth plans of this way of bringing their child into the world.
Unfortunately, having the type of birth you want is not always possible-be it by way of the vagina or via cesarean section. Sometimes medical professional’s personalities as well as very real medical circumstances cause an individual’s birth experience to be somewhat or completely out of her control. The reality of birth is that circumstances can change in an instant, causing birth plans to shatter, and idealization of what we, as mothers, thought was going to happen, to go out the window. Unfortunately, this is a hard reality to hit up against in what can really be a women’s most vulnerable time. In the instant of birth, you are often the most exposed, most exhausted, most emotional being that you ever will be. It is no wonder that when your beliefs are challenged at this time, when the plans are rapidly changed, when your control over what is happening to your own body is taken from you through circumstances you have no control over, that women DO feel violated, alone, and often helpless. It is important to note that it does not matter what choice women made for their birth plan, or whether that would be your choice or not, it is still HER choice, and still HER violation when it changes. And you know what, it does not matter if it HAS to change, that feeling is still there….that feeling of loss, helplessness, and despair.
When all is said and done, women often can look back objectively and realize medically WHY things happened the way they did…but that often does not erase that feeling of loss that whatever birth was envisioned did not occur. It may take medical intervention, both physically and mentally to process the experience and heal from any physical and mental wounds that may have occurred. Any experience IS traumatic to individuals when they perceive it be, and it is not up to society to decide what kind of birth a person should have as well as decide how a mother should perceive the deconstruction of the birth plan during birth.
Thanks for reading,