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Overcoming feelings of guilt following a traumatic birth

Posted on 06 July 2018

I write a lot about birth trauma on this blog and as a trauma hypnotherapist in Berkshire, I see a lot of women experiencing post-natal PTSD.

Today I am writing in Birth Trauma Awareness Week, organised by the Birth Trauma Association to help get the subject better known and help women who are suffering in isolation.

I want to concentrate on one aspect of the mental fallout of a birth trauma, and it is one which can be toxic. That is the guilt that some women can feel when a birth does not live up to expectations.

We know guilt is an important component in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), soldiers may experience survivor guilt after a battle, for example.

With PTSD following a birth, I often see women who feel they have somehow let their baby down. A client I saw recently in my trauma hypnotherapy clinic in central London told me: “I can’t help feeling that if I had pushed properly, if I hadn’t been panicky then it would have been a smooth delivery, rather than forceps and my baby arriving stressed and needing medical intervention. I know it wasn’t my fault in one way, but I have a voice in my head saying, ‘you should have done better.’ On bad days, I look at my baby and feel I have let her down.”

Another client, came to me in what she said was desperation. She told me in our first session, “I had some CBT and some counselling but it hasn’t got rid of this terrible feeling that I nearly killed my own baby. It was my first baby and I was determined to have a natural birth, then it all went wrong and the baby was in distress and it became an emergency. I remember a lot of pain, bright lights, my partner’s terrified face. And I think if I had gone into hospital in the first place none of this would have happened. My baby could have died and it would have been my fault.”

Both these clients are now healing and on the road to recovery. I want to tell you how this has happened, so you know there is help from me if you are suffering in this way.

An important and useful question which I explore with my clients is ‘why me?’ As an experienced trauma hypnotherapist, one thing which I know is that, after a bad birth experience, some women suffer great and ongoing mental trauma while others bounce back. Understanding why, can be the start of recovery. Let’s be clear that you are not to blame you if you are suffering, it is not your fault and you have done nothing wrong, it is about how you perceive your world and your place in it.

Everything which happens to us fits into our personal belief system, our own mental map of the world. If you are a very confident person who feels you fit into your world well and have a right to a happy and successful life then it is likely that you will get over a poor birth experience. If, on the other hand, you have always felt that you have to be perfect to be loved, or that people will not respect you if you do not behave in a certain way for example, then a traumatic birth experience can send you spiralling into a vortex of guilt.

There is another nasty twist to this, if you think any bad feelings and thoughts you experience are your fault, that you somehow deserve them, then it’s a small step to believing that you just have to put up with them and it’s not worth seeking help.

If this sounds like you, then I want to assure you that you can be helped. These feelings can be dealt with and changed, and often quickly, by the sort of treatments which I offer.

Changing your belief system

Usually in the first session with you, I will explore with you where your beliefs come from. I use a range of different proven therapeutic techniques to start to positively change the underlying beliefs in a safe and supportive way. So what sort of things can come out?

Here are a couple of examples. Perhaps childhood experiences have led you to believe you are not good enough or do not deserve a happy life, or perhaps you were socialised in an environment where achieving material success was valued above everything else. If you have any beliefs similar to this, which are holding you back and stopping you overcoming a bad birth experience and getting on with your life, I can work with you to change your own mind map.

Whatever it is, we can examine those beliefs, understand their roots and begin to change them; very soon you will have a healthier mental map and feel more able to cope with bad experiences.

I am also trained and qualified in a technique called EMI (Eye Movement Integration) and a technique called EFT or Tapping. These can provide rapid relief from trauma. I use these with you to clear the trauma so you can have a new start and plan a brighter future.

By using these techniques, we can start to see progress in just one session. As you begin to leave the trauma behind (you will not forget it, but it will not carry the emotional charge it does at the moment, clients often say that it is as if they just can’t be bothered to think about it anymore), you have the chance to enjoy your baby and all the wonderful experiences of motherhood.

These early times with your baby are so precious you do not want to miss them, so if you are finding you are constantly reliving a bad birth experience, or if you feel guilt that it did not work out as you expected, then come to see me now. No time to waste when there is a lovely baby to enjoy.



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