3 Big reasons why women don’t heal from Birth and 5 ways YOU CAN

We can become quite attached to our wounds. Yes, we can even become addicted to our awful birth story. We can increase our energy from emotions such as rage and anger, which does feel better than sadness or depression. But when we are stuck between the two we are still stuck. We are not at peace with our birth, with what happened and how it made us feel.

I was like this.

The story I told myself in my head was that I had FAILED at childbirth. I told myself this story for many years. I was ashamed of my birth. It was painful and I wanted to heal it by ‘getting birth right’, by having another baby. This approach totally didn’t work for me. I didn’t get to have another baby. I actually ended up having a miscarriage that initiated me into Death and Midwifery instead.

This was my medicine, my path, my healing. Looking back, I can see the absolute wisdom in Nature’s plan. She is Wise.

I had to come to peace with my daughters birth exactly how it happened. The healing was in the story I told MYSELF, in my head, in my heart, in my body. I learned so much about myself and about birth that I saw clearly that this was the birth I needed to have to learn what I have needed to learn. I look at Birth now as a treasure chest offering gems of wisdom to anyone who cares to see.

If we cling to a broken story, we don’t tend to see the gems and we certainly don’t heal.

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So here are 3 Big reasons why women don’t heal from Birth.

1. We are stuck in Blame and Shame

We either blame others (the system, the doctor, the midwife, the doula, our partner) or we blame ourselves. “If only I had declined the induction,” “If only I had said no to the epidural,” or the caesarean section. “If only I’d done classes.”

Mine was, “If only I hadn’t pushed!”

Either way, blame is a ball and chain. We remain victims, we feel damaged by birth and we feel alone with our birth story. We secretly tell our horrible birth story over and over in our head and we may even feel we need to warn pregnant women of the pending danger that lays ahead for them.

2. Stuck in Wrath and Resentment

We are angry at care providers, support people, partners or ourselves for how our birth turned out. We feel sad, envious or resentful when we hear of friends or relatives who have beautiful natural births or home births.

An enormous amount of energy can be wasted in anger and resentment. I wasted years of my life being angry. Looking back I can see that if I truly feel my emotion of anger, sometimes I need to do something like smash a plate or hit a pillow or scream under water. If I allow it to pass through me physically, these days it flows through pretty quickly.

Feel anger, let it move through. Make sure nobody, including yourself, is hurt.

It’s only taken me nearly twenty years to get to this point. I regret taking my anger out on the people I love in my life. Looking back I did not know how to feel and process anger efficiently.

Being stuck on the A note has dire consequences. I started out as a young girl being an imploder (keeping it all tucked away safely inside) and then in my late twenties I became an exploder (spraying it all around, hurting myself and others, mostly the people I loved).

I’ve had a long journey with anger. Now in my late forties I am finding the middle path. It feels wonderful to know I can let the wild fire move through my system and out of me in a matter of minutes.

3. Stuck in Guilt and Failure

When our birth goes pear shaped we can even feel that we have failed as a woman, that we are less of a woman because of our birth experience. We may work hard to ‘suck it up’ (I really dislike that expression) to protect our wounds and cover it over with a ‘socially acceptable face’, rather like a false self, a functional, strong mask of ourselves that ensures the wounds we carry are buried safely in our underbelly where they cannot be seen, even to ourselves.

We soldier on. We go into denial.

We may even feel disgusted by the sight of a pregnant woman, we push the pain away in an attempt to never feel that hurt or vulnerable ever again.

Okay enough of the stuckies…. time to MOVE ON….. here are 5 ways you CAN heal from Birth.

1. Spring Clean your Birth Story

What is the storyNew Life - unfurling fern frond. you are telling yourself? Write it down. Get a piece of A4 paper and draw a line down the middle. On the left write at the top of the page What Happened and on the right of the page write How it made me Feel.

Be willing to feel how you really feel about your birth. Go through each part from early labour, through transition, birth, delivery of placenta, and post partum. Break it all down, moment by moment if needs be. Be gentle, and be open and willing to accept painful emotions. Feel them and when you are ready, let them go.

2. Express yourself

Get those feelings into the light of day. Writing your birth story, painting your birth, drawing and dancing are a few creative ways to start the healing process. Whatever your style, fully acknowledge that this was your experience. Have no judgements about whether your feelings or your expression are good or bad – they are yours, and that’s what matters.

3. Empower yourself

Write your story again, and this time claim the power. Write in the first person “I did…, I chose…, I created…, I felt…, I knew…” This is not to change the past, or to deny any of it – it is to claim the power to choose, so that right now you can choose your experience, choose to heal, choose to empower yourself for the future.

4. Share your truth

Find a safe person to talk to about your birth. Someone you trust, who won’t interrupt you or try and fix you or be triggered by your emotions. As best you can, choose someone who will simply hold space and witness, rather than somebody who will ‘sympathize’ and reinforce any dark story or victim feelings.

You are a valuable part of this world, and you deserve to be witnessed. This is a huge step out of shame, and into self worth.

Fully honouring your story like this is part of the process of completing and letting it go. It can feel so good that sometimes it is tempting to keep doing this step. Don’t let this build into a pattern, where you become dependant on this story – there are so many beautiful stories waiting for you.

If you know you are ruminating over and over about your birth, seek professional support that feels right for you.

5. Honour your process

Carve out the time and space for your healing. I work on the principle that every woman has a Divine Healer within. She is unique and creative and powerful in every woman I work with. Some women are very earthy, some are very spiritual, some are emotional, some are singers, some love to sew, some need to laugh, others sweat, others bake. Every woman has her way.

There is no ‘right’ way, only the way that feels natural in your body and spirit and right for you.

Give yourself some space to tune into your unique way of healing. Trust the Healer within who is guiding you every day.

Whichever way you choose to heal, whichever path you follow, fully acknowledge that this is important, valuable, worth while. Consciously choose to support yourself by committing the time and resources to heal, because you are worth it. Whether that means buying a new box of paints or investing in a three month programme, you are worth it.

How can you heal from your birth?

I think it comes to down to willingness, readiness to let go and openness for the birth story to retell itself within your body and spirit. Women that heal tell me that they have a new found appreciation for the miracle of their wise body and they come to peace with the birth they actually had.

What has changed?

Perhaps it’s a small shift of perception that releases a whole lot of energy, our feelings about our experiences. It can be a number of things, but often it comes down to a few key moments. It boils down to reclaiming power in the moments where we felt we were powerless. It boils down to having a voice now where we didn’t have then. Not what happened, but how we feel about it, where the story we tell ourselves has become a story we can now feel good about.

Blessings on your healing journey. I wish you every success, however you choose to proceed. The most important thing is to begin, because you are worth it.

And if ever you want help, I am here for you. For an hour, for a season, for a therapeutic massage or a heartful Skype session. You can even use my box of paints. Just call me.

Reflections on Abortion

For many years I have been supporting women through all aspects of pregnancy and birth, firstly by empowering them to have joyful, healthy birth experiences, and more recently by helping women reclaim their power and self worth if their experience was not what they had hoped for.

Whilst women often approach me to resolve the trauma of medical complications or clinical intervention, what comes out in the safety of our sessions is that there are many layers of grief from a whole range of situations and events. Of these, one of the deepest wounds comes from those pregnancies that never come to term.

Today I am reflecting on my own and others abortion stories. Here are a few notes and reflections from my healing work with women. These are not ‘truths’ or ‘facts’ – these are my personal feelings and observations from listening and holding space for women healing from abortion. I was astonished that the research I did find on abortion supports my own experience on a personal and professional level.

1. We suffer alone in silence

Abortion can mess with who we feel we are at the deepest level of our Feminine. Honouring the Sacred Feminine is the first step in the healing path.

We are the life givers.

We want to create more love.

We want to create more beauty.

We want to create more life.

Having an abortion can be very disturbing and emotionally painful for many women. So the first thing I want to acknowledge is the loneliness a woman can feel for weeks, months and even years after the abortion is actually over.

On a deep level we feel we have done wrong by life, that we have sinned, that we have now moved from being divine creators to cruel destroyers.

We can place ourselves in the very bad person basket.

From here we punish ourselves relentlessly. This can sometimes go on unspoken, underneath the surface layers of coping fairly well in the everyday world.

We move on in a daze like denial, pretending we are fine, whilst actually feeling sad, angry, furious, resentful and even depressed and isolated.

The truth is that the deepest part of us, the part that created the pregnancy, the Sacred Feminine part of us deeply deeply wanted to conceive, nurture, grow and birth. She wants to grow more love and more life. She is nature’s way. Growing, cycling, birthing more love and light onto planet Earth.

2. We feel guilty

We don’t yet have enough circles for healing after abortion. At least one in three women in Australia has an abortion.

There may well be a tsunami of collective grief in the female underbelly.

We are collectively afraid of being judged, found out and punished. We are afraid of being persecuted, stoned to death and even jailed. Deep down we feel we have done the wrong thing, even though we made the difficult decision from the heart of love. We often felt choice-less, forced into abortion because having another baby would wreak havoc with our physical, emotional or mental health, our families, our bodies, our relationships or marriages.

In short, having the baby sometimes threatens our survival as women. We may feel threatened emotionally, physically and psychologically, so we feel forced into choosing abortion to protect ourselves from abuse, neglect, alienation, rejection, and generally being cast out of our partnerships, communities and families.

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3. We feel unsupported to go ahead with the pregnancy

Often we abort because our partners do not want, or will not support the pregnancy, or the child. There is no judgement here. Male partners see things through male bodies and male minds are sometimes able to be pragmatic about such decisions. They do not grow human lives inside them.

Male partners are not under the super nova of divine spiritual and hormonal influence of pregnancy the way women are. Partners may be more able to detach from the lived experience of conception and subsequent abortion and post abortion healing phases. This is not to say they do not suffer grief and loss, for they certainly do, just not in the way a woman experiences it on an alchemical level.

We need to grieve the fact that we could not bring life in without the necessary support of our partner by our side. I want to acknowledge that often a partner makes this decision from his deepest truth, from great love. Sometimes not. There is no one to blame. Each has their own unique experience of pregnancy and abortion.

According to Ewing (2005), the majority of women and girls who have abortions do so because of a lack of support from partners, parents and friends. Seventy percent of women say they felt they had no alternative to abortion.

4. We are afraid of going crazy

Recently I was listening to a woman who had a significant amount of grief from her abortion. She was afraid to feel her sadness because in her youth her mother had said, “women who have abortions end up going crazy and regretting it for the rest of their lives.” She associated sadness, lots of sadness, with going crazy.

Women fear mental breakdown. Nearly one quarter of the female population is taking anti-depressants. It wasn’t that long ago women were given shock treatment and sent to the mental hospital.

In an attempt to ‘still feel sane and normal’ we can bury the bones of guilt, grief, anger and shame.

This doesn’t work. Like grass growing up through the concrete, our feelings want to be seen. At some point we may get a whiff, we smell the pong of something with a foul stink. We need to tend to the dying aspects lurking within us. Giving death, tending well to what is dying and what is dead is ancient women’s business.

We are the guardians of life and death.

Respecting these sacred transitions in an authentic way to our spirit gives us a sense of peace and well being. By giving death the honour, respect and time she requires we become truly liberated to live whole and full once more.

Fearing or avoiding giving some death robs us of the life we are meant to live. Death has the power to liberate us from many old wounds, old grievances and illusions.

Life and Death are one.

5. There are no accidents

I don’t believe there are any accidents. Every experience we have is for our truth. Everything is for our learning. Every experience is for our awakening.

My abortions led me deeper into myself. My abortions took me to the darkness so I could find the light and love that still remained in my heart and soul.

I wanted to create a family. I wanted more love. I thought that having more babies would bring me that, yet the universe was clearly not going to support that path.

I have said this before and I’ll say it again. The baby I needed to nurture and care for was the child within my heart, my very own inner child. I desperately needed to love the baby inside me. I wasn’t willing to do that then. I was looking to create more illusions.

I am loving my inner babe now.

Today I have a teenager and although I am sometimes sad she never had a sibling, I am deeply grateful I do not have more than one teenager to parent now. I am grateful for living in a time when I can have a safe abortion. My grandmother did not have this option, blessings on her soul.

I am grateful for my abortions, because I know in my heart that if I had three children now I would be crazy. That’s my truth.

Abortion is often a painful and unspeakable experience for many women.

Too many feel alone often years later.

If you have experienced abortion and are still suffering in silence, I am here for you. I am here to tell you that you can heal.

You are not crazy.

You are good.

You are worthy.

You are truly wonderful.

I honour the creator and the destroyer within Nature and within us all.

Amen.

References

Selena Ewing, Women and Abortion: An Evidence-Based Review, 2005; a meta analysis of Australian and international research on why women have abortion, compiled for a Women’s Forum Australia parliamentary submission. See also www.afterabortion.org