Perinatal trauma refers to any traumatic event or experience that occurs during pregnancy, labor, or delivery. This can include physical injuries to the mother or baby, medical complications during pregnancy or delivery, or emotional trauma related to the childbirth experience. It can also include the stress that a mother experiences during pregnancy that affects the neurological development of the baby.
You can read more about how stress is transmitted from mother to baby in utero on my blog post here.
The truth is, perinatal trauma can have a significant impact on the physical and emotional health of both the mother and the baby. For the mother, perinatal trauma may lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues. For the baby, perinatal trauma may lead to developmental delays, attachment issues, and other health problems.
How common is perinatal trauma?
Perinatal trauma is a relatively common experience, with up to 34% of women reporting some form of traumatic event during the perinatal period. The prevalence of perinatal trauma varies depending on the population studied, the definition of trauma used, and the timing of data collection.
One study conducted in the United States found that approximately 9% of women experienced a traumatic event during pregnancy or childbirth, while another study conducted in Australia found that 20% of women reported symptoms of PTSD following childbirth.
It is important to note that perinatal trauma can occur in a variety of forms, ranging from physical injury to emotional distress, and may be experienced by both mothers and fathers. While the prevalence of perinatal trauma is relatively high, many cases go unreported or untreated, highlighting the need for increased awareness and support for individuals who have experienced trauma during this critical time.
How the birth process affects mother and baby
C-sections, like any surgical procedure, can be traumatic for both the mother and baby. Here are some reasons why:
Separation: During a C-section, the mother and baby are typically separated for a longer period of time than during a vaginal birth. This separation can interrupt the natural bonding process and may lead to difficulties with breastfeeding and other aspects of mother-baby attachment.
Anesthesia: The use of anesthesia during a C-section can affect the baby's alertness and ability to breastfeed, and can also increase the risk of respiratory depression or other complications.
Physical trauma: The surgical incision made during a C-section can cause physical trauma to both the mother and baby, which can result in pain, discomfort, and a longer recovery time.
Emotional trauma: C-sections can be emotionally traumatic for both the mother and baby. Mothers may experience feelings of disappointment, loss, and failure, while babies may experience distress or confusion due to the unnatural and abrupt nature of the delivery.
Long-term health effects: Some research suggests that babies born via C-section may be at increased risk for certain health conditions such as asthma, allergies, and obesity.
What happens when mother and baby are separated during birth
When a mother and baby are separated during birth, it can have a significant impact on their physical and emotional well-being. Here are some potential consequences:
Delayed bonding: Separation can interrupt the natural bonding process that occurs between a mother and baby during the first hours and days after birth, which can affect the development of attachment and bonding.
Breastfeeding difficulties: Separation can make it difficult for the baby to initiate breastfeeding and establish a successful nursing relationship with the mother.
Increased stress: Separation can cause increased stress and anxiety for both the mother and baby, which can negatively impact their physical and emotional health.
Higher risk of postpartum depression: Separation can increase the risk of postpartum depression for mothers, as the lack of contact with the baby can lead to feelings of sadness, guilt, and disconnection.
Increased risk of medical complications: Separation can lead to missed opportunities for medical interventions, such as skin-to-skin contact or early breastfeeding, which can have important health benefits for both the mother and baby.
To mitigate the negative effects of separation, healthcare providers can take steps to support early bonding and attachment, such as promoting skin-to-skin contact, encouraging breastfeeding, and providing emotional healing support to the mother and baby.
Signs that you are suffering from perinatal trauma
Perinatal trauma can have a significant impact on a person's mental and emotional well-being. Some common signs that you may be suffering from perinatal trauma include:
Intrusive thoughts or memories related to the traumatic event(s)
Avoidance of activities or situations that remind you of the trauma
Feelings of anxiety or panic, including physical symptoms such as sweating, rapid heartbeat, or trembling
Difficulty sleeping or nightmares related to the trauma
Difficulty bonding with your baby
Lack of interest or enthusiasm in caring for the baby
Difficulty making eye contact or responding to the baby's cues
Delayed or minimal response to the baby's cries or needs
Frequent or prolonged absences from the baby's presence
Avoidance of physical contact or affection with the baby
Feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or stressed when caring for the baby
Expressing negative or critical thoughts or feelings about the baby
Expressing feelings of detachment or disconnection from the baby
Feeling guilty or ashamed about their inability to bond with the baby
Lack of desire or motivation to spend time with the baby
Thoughts of self-harm or harming the baby
Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or depression
Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
Irritability, anger, or mood swings
Difficulty bonding with your baby or feeling disconnected from your emotions
Flashbacks or dissociation (feeling detached from reality)
Hypervigilance or a sense of being constantly on edge
Substance use or other behaviors used to cope with the trauma
Sadness, hopelessness, or emptiness beyond the first two weeks after childbirth
Loss of interest or pleasure in activities that were once enjoyable
Changes in appetite or sleep patterns (including insomnia or excessive sleep)
Difficulty bonding with the baby or feeling disconnected from your emotions
It is important to note that bonding with a baby is a gradual and ongoing process that can take time, particularly if the mother has experienced perinatal trauma or other challenges that can interfere with the bonding process. If a mother is experiencing difficulty bonding with her baby, it is important to seek healing support and guidance.
Signs that you may have passed your trauma onto your children
If you have experienced trauma in your life, it's possible that your children may also be affected by it. Here are some signs that you may have passed your trauma onto your children:
Behavioral issues: Children who have been exposed to trauma may exhibit behavioral issues such as acting out, becoming withdrawn or anxious, being aggressive, or having difficulty regulating their emotions.
Physical symptoms: Children who have experienced trauma may also experience physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, or fatigue. They may also exhibit disordered eating.
Sleep disturbances: Children who have been exposed to trauma may have difficulty sleeping, including nightmares or night terrors.
Difficulty trusting others: Children who have experienced trauma may have difficulty trusting others, including family members and friends.
Fear or anxiety: Children who have been exposed to trauma may experience fear or anxiety related to the traumatic event.
Avoidance behaviors: Children who have experienced trauma may try to avoid situations or people that remind them of the traumatic event.
Emotional numbness: Children who have experienced trauma may appear emotionally numb or detached from their emotions.
t's important to note that not all children who have been exposed to trauma will exhibit these signs, and some children may exhibit different symptoms
What kind of trauma needs to be healed?
PRE CONCEPTION TRAUMA: Starting off, pre conception dynamics such as accidental pregnancy and resulting fear or worry or shame can imprint the developing fetus. I see this so often and some resulting ideations are feeling like a burden or not being good enough.
IN UTERO TRAUMA: Trauma experienced during conception or in the womb is known as prenatal or perinatal trauma. This type of trauma can have a significant impact on a child's development and may lead to emotional, behavioral, and physical health problems later in life. In utero imprints including environmental factors such as natural disasters or toxicity of the mothers blood can also be found identified and healed.
BIRTH TRAUMA:As can somatic imprints of the child’s birthing process, particularly important if the birth was traumatic, very delayed or premature, or where the child was induced or where the mother was heavily drugged and not a conscious co creator in each contraction.
There is a deep bonding that takes place when the contractions synchronise with the babies body and mother and fetal heart beats synchronise in a natural birth process. baby recognises it’s inherent connection and love from mother in this way- through the synchrony. This creates a “we are entirely aligned and in this together, I am supported feeling” and it’s possible to recreate this as part of the healing work if you didn’t get a chance to experience this. Rebirthing is incredibly beautiful and powerful healing work that I offer mothers.
What is most common is unresolved trauma especially grief in one or both parents that is actually reflected in the whole perinatal and birth and parenting process which usually only becomes evident in later life. I’ve worked with people who have perfectly looking families where everyone works harmoniously with each other but they can’t shake the feeling of being constantly on edge or deeply grieving for something. This is what happens when a child is born into a friend of unresolved grief. THEY soak it up whilst the parents bury it deep. This is common where there have been miscarriages or bereavements that have not been healed.
Rebuilding relationships within the family at a deep heart space level is way beyond words, individual therapy, body work or talking therapy.
These imprints are entirely buried under many layers of other illness and trauma. However in the field I create for you to see yourself, they become clear to feel. The result has been families that are forever changed. More aware. More loving and attuned. Where each soul is deeply seen and loved and where there is a shared health and spiritual resonances
In this work it is clear that children are teachers and also triggers. They carry immense unfiltered wisdom and of course, they also carry pain.
Family re constellation work means you can heal with your entire family and change the lives of your most loved ones. It doesn’t matter how far back things have happened.
What is the best age to heal your children
You can heal your children at any age, they are connected to your field and your resonance will affect them. However, in my experience changes happen faster when the children are below the age of 7. Up until then, they are very open fields and your inner healing work can have an immediate and direct impact on their well being, physically and emotionally.
What kind of healing work is possible?
- individual trauma healing and conception dynamics - understanding children’s in utero experience based on your life and ancestry and emotions at the time - healing in utero imprints that are resulting in physical or behavioural or emotional problems - healing your womb space and reconnecting you especially if there was heavy intervention or womb related conditions/ sexual trauma - working on deeper relational and soul healing of resonance between you and your partner which has become interrupted by life challenges - rebirthing of your child in a natural and peaceful way, then leading to ecstatic birth - overcoming bonding challenges that are rooted deep in your own system and are now showing up in your relationships within your family - recreating the future, envisioning and anchoring in a new vibration - healing ancestral structures on both sides that are resulting in repeated cycles - working on fertility issues and concerns - working on deeper emotional attunement between couples