Founder of The Birth Trauma Coach, Hypnobirthing Educator, Birth Trauma Practitioner
Clare, United Kingdom
I have worked in the birth world for almost eight years now and I am still as passionate about it today as the day I stepped in.
I wasn’t someone you would have thought would have ended up working in birth. If I am totally honest with you, every one of my friends that I grew up with, would tell you how passionate I was that I wasn’t going to have children. Things changed when I met my husband to be. I started to change the belief that my life wasn’t only about having a career. Four years after meeting, we married and had our first baby.
It was during my pregnancy that I realized I was absolutely petrified of giving birth. Every time I thought about giving birth, I would have a panic attack and burst into tears. This 100% wasn’t me. I normally see myself as a strong, independent woman. But there was something about birth that just shook me.
Looking back on it now, I can identify what the issue was. I had suffered a previous miscarriage only the year before. The hospital had sent me home after I was diagnosed with a missed miscarriage. It was not explained to me that I would have contractions, that I would bleed or how long it could possibly go on for. The pain was incredible. I bled for weeks on end and it went on forever. My body just didn’t want to fully let go of this pregnancy.
Every stage of the miscarriage was the worst experience for me. I can say hand on heart, it instilled a fear in me about giving birth. If giving birth to this baby felt like this, I wondered how I would give birth to a full-term baby?
I stumbled across hypnobirthing and thankfully, it completely changed my mindset. I moved from a place of fear, to a place of positivity and excitement. After giving birth I knew I had to help other women in the same way hypnobirthing had helped me. I left my career to enter the world of birth.
Once fully trained and set up for business it became apparent that I attracted clients that needed extra support. I saw a huge amount of trauma caused by previous birth experiences and desperately wanted to help. I sought out and completed extra training to assist in birth trauma resolution. I have seen some amazing transformations.
The one thing I wasn’t prepared for in my journey in supporting people who gave birth was the trauma that affects birth partners. I was seeing so much suffering and post-traumatic stress from witnessing their loved one’s birth.
I started to see the birth partner has a tendency to get overlooked. If we all think about it, I think we can agree that birth partners may not get the support they need. The partner is expected to be the primary support in all stages of the perinatal and the postnatal period. Their mental health can get unintentionally ignored. The birthing person has midwives and healthcare visitors keeping an eye on them, checking in on them, but who is checking in on the birth partners?
The birth partners watch the traumatic situation unfold around them, quite often with medical professionals poorly communicating, as things are urgent or emergent. This leaves partners with little understanding of what’s happening, why it’s happening and what the outcomes will be. This is a terrifying and vulnerable position to be in while watching a loved one.
I am not saying that attention should be taken away from the birthing person, but the birth partners in the room should be considered. The communication that flows towards them needs to be clear.
I’ve heard the retelling of life changing experiences from birth partners. Imagine hearing medical professionals discuss if they didn’t get on top of the situation quickly both his wife and baby would die. Stories where the birthing person is wheeled off in one direction, their baby in another and being told to choose who to go with and not knowing if they will see the other one again.
I had a friend who recently witnessed his partner have a traumatic birth. I made sure to ask him how he was, and he brushed me off with the usual ‘oh I’m ok, my wife had it a lot worse’ type of comment. I looked him straight in the eye and asked him again. He just broke. He explained to me that since the birth of their baby, (five months previously) no one had asked him how he was coping. The weight of supporting his family, having to go back to work, making sure he was at the hospital for visiting hours and the guilt of splitting his time between visiting his wife and visiting his baby was still eating him up. Even though they had been home for some time now.
I can’t even begin to tell you how many birth partners are out there trying their hardest to keep on top of their trauma symptoms. They keep these feelings hidden for a number of reasons. A combination of them feeling like they don’t have the time to do anything about it, feeling like they can’t speak up because it didn’t happen to them, the shame preventing them from opening up, and trying to be strong for the family.
Regardless of the reasons why they aren’t speaking about it or getting help, I just want to keep shouting about it and banging my drum to get the message out there that it’s okay to talk about it. There is absolutely no shame in how you are feeling. It’s okay to reach out.
Do you love birth? Heck yeah you do!
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