As I write this blog I am holding in my mind the mental snap shot of a beautiful and strong woman who represents so many that I have had the privilege to support in birth. This woman in particular blew me away today with her amazing open life and ability to grow from her birth experience.
She delivered her second child a few days ago. During this pregnancy she found it hard o connect to her unborn child. She had such a close connection to her two year old child that she could not make room in her mind for her upcoming baby and this worried her as well as us.
We all felt that if she was unable to connect to her unborn babe, then she could have trouble during labor. Disconnection from your body or unborn child can be a real issue in labor, possibly causing a prolonged labor or expulsion period, or even an inability to birth.
Of course I have no ‘gold standard’ evidence of this, but I have seen this for myself and it has been written about by many natural birth gurus. This is one of the ‘4 p’s’ passage, passenger, power and the psyche. If one of these p’s is lacking, the birth will be effected.
At our home visit before her birth, I suggested she take some time apart from her two year old and walk in a park or forest and try to connect with her unborn babe. Maybe talk to it or write it a letter if talking was too hard. Although she found it a challenge, she did write her baby a letter and opened her heart to it.
Her pregnancy went 41 weeks and 5 days and she took the opportunity to have acupuncture to help unblock her feelings and aid the start of her labor. This worked well and the following day she delivered her beautiful baby with amazing grace and power. To us, the midwives, it was text book perfection, although it was noted that the expulsive stage was a bit rapid. To her it all went well until the expulsion stage where she then felt it had been a traumatic birth.
We noticed her shock once her exuberance faded immediately after the birth. She kept commenting on the speed and that she felt shock and traumatized. She also had a second degree tear, due to the fast delivery and required stitches. During this period, although she was given 20 mils of local, her body still responded as if she was experiencing pain although she continually said it did not hurt.
After this she was up and thanking us for a lovely birth, emptied her bladder, or so we thought, and all was well. We set off to visit the following day. Later that same night another colleague was called out as our lady was in massive pain and could not pass urin. She was catheterized and 2 liters of urine was drained. This happened again the next morning when another colleague went for her visit. At this time it was noted that she must have an infection and our on call doctor was notified. As we are a homeopathic health clinic a remedy was prescribed as well as a strong broth full of onion and garlic to aid in dealing with the infection. I was called the following morning and told what had gone on over the past day and a half. I was asked to go and see her and was also asked to speak to her about any past history of sexual abuse as a child.
This may seem a strange request by our doctor to make, but she felt, as did I that the urine retention was not a product of the rapid birth, because she could pass urine but she was retaining the majority of it. Although there was a joint consensus that she had an infection, there was also something else. The trauma of the birth. She had continued to speak of this over this time and it seemed to be preoccupying her mind more and more. Our doctor felt that the retention and the growing feelings of trauma could be the effect of previous child sexual abuse.
Now it is never an easy thing to ask, but I knew that if I was asked to do this there was a good reason for it. Her response was all at once amazing and beautiful. Broaching the subject as gently as I could but being clear so that there was no misunderstanding, I asked about her past. She immediately responded,” are you asking me about sexual abuse?” She told me of one incident that she knew of for sure and that since that time she always had issues with her anus and anything near it or anything touching it.
Her self-observation was clear, rational and amazingly present. She told me she had just been speaking to her partner about this and realizing that this could have been the cause of the trauma because for the sensation of babies head in her anus was horrid and something she did not expect to feel. Her first baby had been a caesarian for failure to progress, so she did not have this experience previously.
As she sat there telling me this, she was breastfeeding both her beautiful babies. Her partner was lying next to her on the bed and I was in awe of her honesty and ability to give love and nutrition while talking through, for the first time with someone other than her partner, this experience. She was radiant and empowered by her birth to face a darkness that had traumatized her for many years.
How amazing women are