Overlook Birth Trauma – How Were We Born

Recently I had encountered a spiritual talk on Spiritual Rebirther called Minood. A very interesting topic as it relates to birth. Though I did not sign up for the workshop. Later found out from a lady who attended the rebirth session. She shared her experience, remembered vividly her feelings during her journey into this world, her birth. She definitely made me realised what had I missed out. Not long after that, this lady invited me to attend a breathwork rebirth session. Immediately I signed up, not to miss this chance a gain.

Although I did not experience the Rebirth, I was amazed by how breath can connect to our brain and retrieve memory. The breathworker John Stamoulos lead me into searching just how birth trauma happens and how does it affect our life. He suggested that I ask my mother how was I born, same time, recommended a book called Birth Without Violence by Dr. Frederick Leboyer. This book gave me the inspiration to replay “the scene”.

Pretend You are the Baby – How does it feel “being inside”?

Let’s imagine that you are the baby resting in the comfort of your mother’s womb. Warm, surrounded by the buoyancy of the amniotic fluid, squashing against the wall of the uterus, relatively dark and quiet inside, at least not so loud.

So much as we think you, the unborn baby cannot feel, hear or see.

You feel everything through vibration, rhythm, light and even your mom’s emotion through the placenta.

Now you are physically ready to experience the transition into an unfamiliar world.

You are Moving Slowly Through the Birth Path

Now you’re ready to meet your mom and dad.

The wave or surge, contraction is the medical term for it, moves you down to the squeezy narrow tunnel, the birth path.

The constant pushes and pulls move your body, most of the time it’s your head closer to the birth path.

Now you feel the fear and the tension that passes through the umbilical cord from your mom’s emotion.

The fear of childbirth, your mother and father’s own birth present in the room that causes more tension in your mom’s body, hence pain.

At this time, your mom is overwhelmed by the surges (contraction), the fear of pain and she tensed up resisting it.

You too sensed the fear and resisting moving along but you can not.

The muscles of the uterus work against each other, the outer muscle is trying to pull the inner muscles up prepare for your descend.

But her tension causes resistance, freezes the inner muscles making it more difficult for you to move pass the narrow tunnel.

Labor prolonged, mom is stressed and exhausted.

So are you being squeezed and pressed against the wall of the cervix. Can’t move!

Your First Feeling in this World

Finally, you have made it to crowning, feel the air for the first time through your head, your mom screams with every surge.

The more you move, the more she screams, so loud that you are shocked and scared. Finally your head is out, sudden bright light, too bright that you shut your eyes very tight.

Feel the cold air, very frightening, you want to breathe but your chest is still in the birth path, so tight that it makes the breathing impossible.

The Scream that Nobody Cares

Finally, your body is out, you are born. Immediately someone put a tube in your nose and mouth for suction, very uncomfortable.

What is going on? Panicking, you scream.

Being carried without hands or legs touching anything feels like you are hanging in the air and that you are going to drop any time.

Terrifying you scream with helplessness.

No body cares. The adults are so ignorant that they think how amazing you little person can scream so loud but ignoring the helpless scream.

Then another shock, your skin, your body is being rubbed by a dry rough towel, discomfort and even painful with all the rubbings.

The Sudden Cut Off of Oxygen Supply

Feeling the cold air in the throat is like burning sensation.

While you’re still adjusting to breathing the cold air through your lung, and suddenly your normal oxygen supply being cut off, your umbilical cord is being clamped.

Deprived from oxygen, startles and overwhelms by the sudden rush, you gulp for air, Roughly about 30% of your blood and nutrient is left in the cord.

Feeling weak with the rest of the blood supposedly in your body not being transported fully.

Nothing Familiar in This World

More, you are being taken away to the cold hard surface for weighing, follows by being wrap tightly in a dry cloth and finally you get to meet your mom and dad.

At last you feel the familiar rhythm, your mommy’s heartbeat, lastly by her side.

If your mother is not too exhausted, you may want to breastfeed you.

What Do You Sense?

Now how do you feel about this new world that welcomes you? Did you feel your connection with your mom and dad? Did you sense love and welcome from them.

The Journey into This World Can Be Traumatized

Although I portray this scene of natural birth without medical intervention that alone is enough for your baby perceives this new environment as threat. Let alone other medical intervention. Any changes in the years to come create fear, nervousness, anxiety and stress. The effect on the well being of this little fragile human being is immeasurable and can be life long.

Babies are Highly Sensitive

Babies are highly sensitive and communicable. They see, hear and feel their surrounding even in the womb. They remember although they may seem to forget as they grow up. The memory is imprinted in the memory bank.

What is Birth Trauma?

Often being overlooked from the babies’ perspective, birth trauma refers to the shocking experience that the babies feel during their journey into this world and the first hour after birth. This includes the environment and how the babies are being handled immediately after birth. Often shockingly struggling in facing the uncertainly in life, feeling loss, helpless, fear and no sense of security.

Major Kinds of Birth Trauma for The Babies

The major kinds of birth trauma result from forceps, Caesarean delivery, prolonged labour, a sudden switch to a strange environment and the handling of babies immediately after birth can frighten the babies. An assisted birth such as forceps, suction and forced pulling baby out can cause distress, pain and make them feel vulnerable. This can shape their belief lifelong that they often need assistance and lack confidence.

Side Effect of Early Cord Clamping

Early cord clamping deprived the supply of oxygen to the infant’s brain and cut off about 1/3 of the total blood volume to the baby that is used mainly to establish circulation through the child’s lung’s to start them functioning, the loss is a huge blow to the baby’s immune system and other complications.

According to Dr. Frederick Leboyer, author of Birth without Violence, when cord is clamp too early while the umbilical cord is still pulsating, the sudden cuts off of infant brain’s oxygen supply from the placenta before lungs begin to function causes sudden shock, hence panic to the baby to gulp for air. This oxygen deprivation making birth itself an extremely painful, confusing, and frightening experience for babies. The nature and length of birth can determine the state of a baby’s cranium (skull), and consequently influence the way his/her personality, intelligence and memory develop.

Even The Royal College of Cranio-Sacral Therapy says a common cause of colic in newborns is birth trauma. Never thought of that huh?

Babies Have Memory Even Before Birth

Babies have feelings even before they are born. Babies remember all the events after birth unconsciously even though they do not seem to remember when they grow up. Evidence showed during a hypnotherapy session, human can replay the scene during the time that the person was born.

“Who gets Birth Trauma?

The babies, mothers and even the father

In the medical term, birth trauma refers to women’s childbirth experience that causes the after effect.

An abstract from The Birth Trauma Association, UK as below:

“Birth trauma is in the eye of the beholder’
Cheryl Beck (Nursing Research January/February 2004 Vol 53, No.1)

It is clear that some women experience events during childbirth (as well as in pregnancy or immediately after birth) that would traumatise any normal person.
For other women, it is not always the sensational or dramatic events that trigger childbirth trauma but other factors such as loss of control, loss of dignity, the hostile or difficult attitudes of the people around them, feelings of not being heard or the absence of informed consent to medical procedures.

Research into the area is limited and, to date, it has largely focused on the importance of the type of delivery. It is clear however, that there are risk factors for Post Natal (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) PTSD which include a very complicated mix of objective (e.g. the type of delivery) and subjective (e.g. feelings of loss of control) factors. They include:

  • Lengthy labour or short and very painful labour
  • Induction
  • Poor pain relief
  • Feelings of loss of control
  • High levels of medical intervention
  • Traumatic or emergency deliveries, e.g. emergency caesarean section
  • Impersonal treatment or problems with the staff attitudes
  • Not being listened to
  • Lack of information or explanation
  • Lack of privacy and dignity
  • Fear for baby’s safety
  • Stillbirth
  • Birth of a damaged baby (a disability resulting from birth trauma)
  • Baby’s stay in SCBU/NICU
  • Poor postnatal care
  • Previous trauma (for example, in childhood, with a previous birth or domestic violence)

Finally, men who witness their partner’s traumatic childbirth experience may also feel traumatised as a result.”

Gentle Birth Provides a Smooth Transition for the Babies

Whether the transition from womb to birth is made slowly or brutally in panic and terror can make a difference between a gentle birth and a traumatized one.

Birth trauma is stored in the memory bank of each baby who is born, including our own. How we were born affect how we give birth. This includes the father as well.

Preconception Planning, Childbirth Education and Preparation are the keys to prevent birth trauma. Why not plan a harmonious beginning and a beautiful birth for your little one? Create a lifelong memorable birth story for your love ones.Learn

Learn more about HypnoBirthing Here

I Avoided a C-section by Helping My Baby Turn from Breech to Vertex

A Determined Mom Who Avoided a C-section by Helping Her Baby Turn from Breech to a Vertex Position for Birth

Baby Turned from Breech to Head Down at 38 Weeks

“Thank you Yen and Fauziah for all your help!  We are very thankful for this little miracle birth and hope this birth story will be an inspiration to others.”~ Esme, mother of 3 daughters

Hi, my name is Esme and I am a mother of 3 daughters.  When I got pregnant with my third child, I thought that the pregnancy would be a breeze since I’d be a “seasoned” mother.  On hindsight, it was actually the toughest of all my pregnancies.

It first started with 6 weeks of severe morning sickness.  It was so severe that I had to lie in bed for the entire period, getting up to only have morsels of food.  The nausea continued throughout the pregnancy.

The pregnancy was further complicated by the baby being in a breech position.  I had tried all sorts of methods on my own (ranging from homeopathy to yoga to moxibustion) to turn the baby, but to no avail.  When I was about 35 weeks pregnant, my doctor advised me to set a date for an elective cesarean surgery as it would be risky to deliver a breech baby naturally.  I was very disappointed at such a prospect.  As I managed to birth my older daughters naturally and without epidural, I was hoping that I would be able to do the same for my third pregnancy but I was also not willing to subject my baby to unnecessary risks.

I suffered from insomnia and panic attacks for the next 2 weeks as I was fearful of “being cut up” in surgery and I agonized over the type of anesthesia I should use for the surgery.  My doctor suggested going under general anesthesia (GA) as around 10% of his patients who used the epidural developed chronic back aches.  However, going under GA meant that my husband and I would not be able to welcome the baby into the world as my husband would not be allowed into the operation theatre and I would be completely knocked out for 2-3 hours.  Neither the epidural nor GA seemed satisfactory.

Just as I was giving up hope on having a natural birth, a friend asked if I was interested in engaging a doula and passed me her doula Yen’s contact details.  I got in touch with Yen on 17 July 2016 and met her the same day.

Yen showed me a series of physical exercises (such as the forward leaning inversion) to help create room in my body for the baby to turn.  She also mentioned that 85% of breech babies are a result of an emotional hang-up, mainly fear.  I shared with Yen that I had been very stressed during my pregnancy as I was busy preparing for the family’s relocation back to the UK.  I was also very traumatized by the labour pains of my previous two births, even though I tried preparing for the births by going for yoga and natural birth classes.  To help me emotionally, Yen recommended that I see a hypnotherapist and a Cranio-Sacral therapist.

When I made an appointment to see Fauziah the hypnotherapist (and also doula), I was almost 38 weeks pregnant.  Fauziah said that because I was so advance in my pregnancy and that the baby’s bottom was already engaged in my pelvis, I only had a 50-50 chance in turning the baby around.  Nonetheless, we did not give up hope.  She devised an intensive programme comprising of physical exercises, massage, moxibustion and hypnotherapy for me to follow for 7-10 days.  As my doctor was very conservative, I had to negotiate with him to push back my cesarean date (which was due in 7 days) so as to give the programme a chance to work.

I followed Fauziah’s programme diligently on the first day.  On the second day, as I was feeling under the weather, I had to take things a little easier, but still managed to do a 20 minute supported shoulder stand.  Later that night, I was woken up by a sharp pain at my left hip.  The baby was in a transverse position and was trying to turn.  I then used my hands to guide her head downwards, and as I felt her head moving towards my pelvis, the baby disappeared into my womb.  I could not tell whether the baby had successfully turned.

The next morning, my mucous plug was dislodged, but I did not think much about it.  Later that day, I had a sensation of menstrual back ache and had the show.  I was in a dilemma.  On one hand, I wanted to see my doctor to make sure that the baby was safe and well and that I was not in labour.  On the other hand, I was worried that my doctor would send me for an emergency cesarean if baby had not turned and I had gone into labour.  My husband was in China then, and I was hoping that he would be there for the baby’s birth.  I went to see my doctor with a heavy heart and even brought my hospital bag in case I got admitted to hospital.  When I saw my doctor, the first thing he did was an internal examination.  I braced myself for the worst case scenario and prepared to get an earful from my doctor for putting myself in such a position.  Instead, I was ecstatic when he told me that he felt the baby’s head.  The ultra-sound scan on 22 July 2016 confirmed that baby had turned!  It was a miracle.

I worked with Fauziah for the next two weeks to prepare for a natural birth without epidural or artificial induction.  It was another series of yoga, walking and hypnotherapy.  Fauziah also taught me techniques (such as the labour positions, breathing and hypnotherapy) to better cope with the labour pain and to expedite the birth process.  Towards the end, I also took homeopathic remedies for a natural birth induction as my doctor was getting anxious and proposed to artificially induce the baby if she was not out by the due date.

On the baby’s due date, I went into labour naturally.  I was woken up by a strong contraction at 2am.  I labored at home till around 4.30am before we made our way to the hospital.  I was admitted to the hospital at 5am.  At this point, the pain was so intense that it felt like I was at least 8cm dilated.  However, when the nurse checked me, I was only 4cm dilated.  I was very flustered as I did not know whether I could hold out the pain much longer.  Thankfully, Fauziah was still awake and told me not to be discouraged as progression in labour was not based on dilation alone.  Instead, she told me to go into my zone and focus on my breathing.  I heeded her advice and labored in the hospital shower room.  Within 30 minutes (or 5 rounds of extremely intense contractions), I felt the baby’s head about to come out.  The nurses rushed me back to the bed and held my legs down to prevent me from giving birth before my doctor arrived.  The wait was agonizing.  It was as though I was having explosive diarrhea and was told not to go to the toilet.  Thankfully, my doctor arrived within the next 10 minutes.

At 5.48am on 4 August 2016, I gave birth to a healthy baby girl of 3.5kg naturally without epidural or artificial induction.

If you like Esme’s birth story, please Like and Share on Facebook.

Fear of Childbirth and Elective Cesarean

Why Women Choose Cesarean?

Cesarean birth is major abdominal surgery with or without a medical condition. Elective cesarean is the choice of the mother/couple to have their baby at specific date and time of delivery. This question has disturbed me for quite some times. I realised that people choose delivery through cesarean have lots of Fear. These fears are due to fear of childbirth pain, fear of not being able to give birth due to carrying a “big size baby”, fear of the unknown-uncertainly of how birth will turn out to be, the fear of jeopardising the safety of the baby and that of the mother puts woman to think of a definitely outcome. i.e. elective cesarean birth.  There are other fears that are not mentioned here which not everyone can accept.

Milli Hill, the Founder of The Positive Birth Movement, in her post Should We Be So Very Scared of Giving Birth? is based on research finding that as many as one in 10 women suffered from tocophobia, leading to more women elect for cesarean birth due to extreme anxiety and fear of giving birth regardless of how joyful her pregnancy had been. Such fears can turn their birth upside down. Normal birth can turn out to be much with medical intervention such as birth augmentation, taking pain relief medication, forceps, vacuum extraction and cesarean birth when the woman in labour is too anxious, fearful of their birth and not willing to take charge of their birth due to lack of knowledge in childbirth. Much of the fear is developed due to myths of childbirth. 

Women’s natural birthing inhibited by fear. These fear are mainly due to the following factors:

  • Media portraits childbirth as traumatic and dramatic
  • Birth stories of other women’s experience with much medical intervention
  • Women approach birth with negative expectations
  • Women do not believe they can do it
  • Childbirth becomes a medical event in many developed countries

Below is the Cycle of Fear becomes Fact leads to Negative Birth

Fear is the enemy of the birthing room. If pain is the main reason you choose cesarean birth, then understand that Pain is due to Fear. During labour, when fear kicks in, it creates tension and thus, the tension in the body creates pain. Childbirth pain is no longer an issue as fear can be eliminated with a deep level of relaxation using techniques such as breathing, relaxation, visualisation and self-hypnosis. A woman can give birth in a calm and relax manner. HypnoBirthing’s relaxation methods increase the body’s natural relaxant, endorphins which inhibit the stress hormone catecholamine that causes pain, reduces much discomfort. Hence, a woman is capable of birthing in a calm and comfortable way to bring the little baby into this world.  

Marie Mongan the Founder of HypnoBirthing®-The Mongan Method has been teaching HypnoBirthing Childbirth Education since 1989 to women who seek drug-free birth. She believes that birth is natural, normal and healthy.  When the mind is relaxed, body is relaxed. Mind and body are free to function in harmony in the absence of fear. The HypnoBirthing® philosophy is that a healthy woman carrying a healthy baby, experiencing a healthy labor, trusting birth and is free of fear, is appropriately relaxed, her body will function normally without pain or incident. Therefore, women who are not in the high risk group does not need medical assistance but rather the patience of the birthing attendance and proper emotional support. 

You can break this Cycle of Birthing Negativity by attending a proper Natural Childbirth Education. Knowledge is power, the power to be in control. Replacing these old negative beliefs with positive beliefs and releasing the fear of giving birth with the help of Hypnosis.  What woman needs is to prepare their mind and body for birth. With the right kind of support, she can achieve the birth she desires and become stronger.