I had to have a midwife I knew and trusted attend my second birth… after having Post Traumatic Stress Disorder following the birth of my first child I can fully attest to how impossible it is to feel like a good and competent mother in a PTSD state. It’s a steep learning curve. I couldn’t be left on my own with my son for long, or have catch up day time sleeps for a year – sleep deprivation is exacerbated by PTSD. It’s actually physiologically impossible to feel that parent child connection when in a PTSD state.
The birth experience is so delicate and fragile that trauma in some form is possible, and I hate to say it, even common. But that doesn’t mean that leads to PTSD. We can do hard things and we can grow from them. PTSD is caused when, during an experience of trauma, we are not supported or respected. We are disempowered and lose control over our situation.
In labour you really do not have control over your situation, it is a wild ride, and need to have trust in those around you to guide the situation to a positive conclusion – whatever that may be. So the power imbalance is inherent in the situation. It takes great skill and self awareness on the part of the people around you to guide you through it keeping the power in your control and not picking it up and running off with it, as it is so easy to do when someone is so vulnerable.
With the skill of the amazing midwife Sharyn Lock (and of course my doula and partner!) I managed to birth my daughter with a feeling of empowerment, choice and agency, despite coming into the situation hyper sensitive and PTSD-ready! It really healed me and therefore healed my family and gave my daughter a truly wonderful start in life.
D, second child, birthed at home, 2019