What does Birth Trauma Look like?

(This blog post is addressing the baby’s perspective)

What comes to mind when you think of birth trauma?   Perhaps you think of babies with cerebral palsy from oxygen deprivation.  Maybe you think of a dislocated shoulder due to forcible removal in the case of shoulder dystocia.  Or perhaps just forcep marks that take weeks to fade…  These are the more visible, physical symptoms of birth trauma–and fortunately, they are relatively rare.

Far more prevalent is invisible birth trauma–emotional trauma that may not be apparent to anyone–not even the person who experienced it–until many years down the road.  Given that approximately 90% of US births take place in a hospital setting and that around 33% or more of those are C-section births, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that most of us born in the last 40 years in the States have experienced some sort of prenatal/birth trauma.

If being gestated in a fear/stress-based pregnancy culture wasn’t traumatic enough, then the bright lights, separation from our mothers, interventions and medications that are so common in a hospital protocols, would likely have some deleterious affect on most babies.  How would we even think to call it trauma, when this birth environment is seen as “normal” in this culture?

Back in 2004, I had been introduced to the concept that the embryo and fetus “remembered” energetically and emotionally the experiences in the womb and that we carried this energetic and emotional imprint through our lives–and that any emotional trauma we had experienced could be healed.   Films like Debbie Takikawa’s What Babies Want, illustrate the needs that we all have for calmness, warmth, darkness, connection and our mother’s arms at birth–if we don’t get these needs met then we will likely experience trauma and create coping patterns to deal with the trauma.

This concept was a revelation to me at the time, having done several years of intense therapy and personal development work but still feeling stuck in patterns that I couldn’t trace to any cognitive memory.  Understanding that  that these patterns could be cleared by using other modalities was a big relief to me!  I was never drawn to rebirthing, “primal scream” therapy, Radiance Prenatal Process™ or WatsuEFT was my key to the door for healing my prenatal and birth stories.

Over the last six years in my coaching practice, I have deepened my understanding of the more invisible traumas that affect us prenatally and around our births.   I have seen clients presenting with chronic anxiety, asthma, depression, and allergies who have cleared or dramatically reduced their symptoms when we worked on their prenatal and/or birth experience.  I have also seen clients experiencing freedom to move forward career-wise, leave a bad relationship, clear phobias, and get clarity on their life’s work after a birth-related session.

If you are feeling stuck in your life or have some life-long chronic body symptom–and you have tried everything to shift it, you might want to look back at your mom’s pregnancy and your birth story.   Was it the most peaceful and loving experience you could imagine?  If not, clearing any known distress (yours or your mothers)–and healing any unknown distress along the way, may help free you in ways you can only imagine right now!

Often the presence of a listening, loving, compassionate practitioner or friend is all that’s needed to create the safety for this early distress to be surfaced and released.  Sometimes we need more than that–and EFT and Matrix Reimprinting are my tools of choice–the other modalities I mentioned are also helpful (though not nearly as fast, IMO.)

I cleared my life-long asthma, a feeling of being held-back and a my life-long depression using these tools.  I know the despair of feeling stuck with a sense that the world is not safe and the relief at finally being able to feel connected and whole.  Birth trauma has affected my life and influenced my work in so many ways–it’s a journey that I am embracing and appreciating for all the gifts it has brought me.

How has your prenatal and birth story affected your life?