The Hidden Cost of
Unresolved or Unidentified Birth Trauma
Your self-assessment result indicates that at some point during labour and delivery you experienced your childbirth as extremely stressful. It is highly probable that your nervous system is still stuck in a survival stress response since that event and is contributing to your postpartum struggles.
Hi, this is Jennifer, the founder and Chief Empathy Officer of ASK Therapy for Moms.
I want to personally take a moment to acknowledge the brave step you just took by taking this self-assessment quiz as a first step towards your mental and emotional wellbeing.
So a genuine heartfelt nod and embrace being sent your way.
Let’s take a closer look at your results…
Unresolved or unidentified birth trauma tells you that the stressful material from your birth – memories, sensations, emotions, and thoughts – is likely still trapped within your body, heart, and mind system and it has not had the chance to be metabolized (digested, sorted, and resolved). *Remember that this is not a formal diagnosis*
It is okay if you don’t relate to the term: 'traumatic birth'. You can replace it with a highly stressful, triggering, scary, shocking or extremely painful birth experience. Trauma is a word that describes both your physical and psychological responses to an extremely stressful event (more on this later).
So, what does this say about your current postpartum struggles?
First, let's acknowledge that they are real for you and I imagine causing a lot of upset, angst, and/or grief. Something I discovered, after working with hundreds of mothers over the years, is that postpartum mental health challenges (I like saying that over postpartum mood disorders) are never a siloed experience.
Many moms worried about ‘getting’ a postpartum mood disorder, as if it was something you randomly catch. I am not minimizing the impact of severe depression or anxiety, I know it is real. However, these symptoms that can destabilize a mom and her family are typically the by-product of too much survival stress, for too long, with no end in sight.
This is why at ASK Therapy we have a nervous system informed approach to therapy - not your typical approach to therapy. The nervous system is your biological engine and also, your personal surveillance system. It is always working to keep you alive and better yet, to help you thrive.
But, sometimes it glitches.
Too much survival stress, for too long, with no end in sight causes this glitch. And when your system glitches, those horrible symptoms show up.
When this happens, eventually your engine either revs up but remains in neutral (anxiety) or it runs out of gas, shutting down or totally collapsing (depression). This is what neuroscientists and physiologists call dysregulation of the nervous system. In Polyvagal Theory we call these two survival states: sympathetic and dorsal vagal (more on that later).
What’s the problem?
The challenge is that many of us do not know how to either discharge the excess energy or jump start the engine when it has run out of gas, because we were not shown how.
What is the consequence?
You feel trapped in the overwhelming felt sensations, emotions, and stressful thoughts.
Granted, adjusting to motherhood is, in and of itself, an all encompassing event that demands all of your attention and energy. Add any extra stress factors from your birth experience and you can easily be tipped out of balance.
What all of this is telling you is that your system (body, heart, and mind) is overwhelmed with unresolved stressful material from your birth, and it needs your kind attention so that you can restore it back to a state of health and wellness. The good news is that this can be done!
You do not have to remain in overdrive and chronic survival stress for the remainder of your postpartum or journey into motherhood.
Health occurs when we can shift our system into a place of coherence - a harmonious rhythm of communication between your brain, heart, body, and relationships.
Our team of therapists hold a deep belief in the capacity to heal the nervous system which includes your brain, body, mind, and heart. Working with a professional who is trauma informed is an essential component towards restoring your nervous system back to health.
I call this stage of healing – 'getting your brain back online'.
However, your healing will not feel complete until you have integrated all the aspects of your birth experience. This includes changing the way you tell the story and feel about the event - your birth narrative.
Trust me, the story can change - I have listened to hundreds of moms shift from a deeply wounded birth story to one of wisdom and power. When we begin to heal, we have a wider gaze in which we can hold many different aspects of the experience at once. We no longer focus our attention only on the negative memories, but rather, the story becomes fluid and comprehensive.
At first, this idea can feel impossible. That is okay. And, for some moms, it can take a bit before they feel ready (if ever) for therapy. There are other ways to begin your healing. You can start below.
Turn your attention inwards and contemplate these two questions:
a. What am I hearing myself say about my birth experience?
b. What am I hearing myself say, about MYSELF, as it pertains to the event? Or what does it mean about me as a person?
These two questions represent step 3 and 4 of the 10 step ‘Flowing Fears’ process (more on that later). Learning how to tune your attention inwards and begin to notice what stressful thoughts arise from within is a critical skill of self-reflection. Over the next few days you will receive more pieces of inspiration and goodness about healing and postpartum mental health.
To get started on your healing journey I invite you to check out this 4 part video series with bonus material called: What Your Doctor Didn’t Tell You About Postpartum Depression and Anxiety.
This series was presented to over 400 moms with extremely positive feedback. It is empowering and removes the mystery of postpartum mood challenges.
Remember you are not alone!
**Ready to get started with a therapist ASAP > CLICK HERE
Please note - This assessment and report is not to be used as medical advice. If you are suicidal or at risk of harm, experiencing severe mental distress, or in an abusive or harmful environment please reach out to your local mental health line or hospital immediately.
JS Coaching Group Inc.|2022