Emotional Freedom Technique for Birth Trauma
Qualified Antenatal & Childbirth Educator. She taught for the National Childbirth Trust for 6 years during which time she gained her qualifications in Natal HypnotherapyTM and EFT. She runs a successful practice and holds workshops for midwives on the benefits of the above treatments. She is the mother of three girls and believes that none of us are perfect parents, we can only all do our best!
Birth should – and can be – the most empowering, awe-inspiring, emotional, invigorating, fantastic, exceptional experience a woman can have.
Once the baby is born, she should be so proud of her achievement that she feels on top of the world. The hormones a woman produces when in labour, help her uterus to contract and her cervix dilate, they provide pain relief ten times more powerful than morphine, they help her completely zone out of the ‘real’ world and tune into her birthing body, the part which has evolved through millions of years. A woman is uniquely and exquisitely designed to give birth to her baby. So why, according to the Birth Trauma Association website (www.birthtraumaassociation.org.uk) is it estimated that 10,000 women in the UK develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after giving birth and as many as 200,000 more feel traumatised by the whole experience?
As we all know, numerous books and articles are available on the subject all with their own theories and advice but the simple answer is humans are mammals, and as such we need certain birthing conditions to minimise complications and make us feel safe and secure. It’s a fact that hormones which flood our body when we make love are exactly those involved when giving birth. It’s also a pretty irrefutable fact that not many of us could comfortably make love in the environment in which many women are expected to give birth. It is also true that a birthing woman is at her most vulnerable. A harsh or tactless word from the midwife or consultant is going to impact disproportionately as is a less than gentle internal (especially from the person who has just spoken harshly). All of these can have repercussions!
Women who suffer from traumatic birth experiences are likely to do so because of any of the following:
- Lengthy labour or short and very painful labour
- Poor pain relief
- Feelings of loss of control
- High levels of medical intervention
- Traumatic or emergency deliveries, e.g. emergency caesarean
- Impersonal treatment or problems with staff attitude
- Not being listened to
- Lack of information or explanation
- Lack of privacy and dignity
- Fear for baby's safety
- Baby’s stay in SCBU/NICU
- Poor postnatal care
- Previous trauma (e.g. in childhood, with a previous birth or domestic violence)
All of these emotions and memories can manifest themselves as feeding and bonding problems; insecurity and uncertainty as to what is right for the baby; post-natal depression and in the most severe cases, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). To those on the outside, there may not seem an awful lot to complain about – especially if the baby is born healthy. And indeed many women add to their own emotional baggage by berating themselves for feeling so low. But in fact, dealing with diametrically conflicting feelings on a daily basis, can be exhausting and frightening.
So how does what I do, help with the debilitating, guilt inducing, depression forming symptoms of a traumatic birth experience?
In a nutshell, EFT is an emotional version of acupuncture except without needles
Instead, we stimulate the body’s acupuncture meridians by tapping them with our fingertips. This proves hugely effective for dealing with pain and physical symptoms of all kinds and is astonishingly useful for treating emotional issues. It can reduce the typical psychotherapy process from months or years down to hours or in some cases, minutes.
It is also a less emotionally painful procedure than Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or other forms of counselling because, whilst it does involve thinking and talking about the traumatic experience, the emotional charge associated with particular points of a story is removed before proceeding with the next section. EFT is able to rapidly reduce the impact of memories and incidents that trigger emotional distress. It is also exceptionally successful at getting to the root of a problem – often a traumatic birth is even more traumatic because of previous negative experiences and these memories can get interwoven – known as ‘layering’.
In all honesty, EFT sounds bizarre but it works, often where other therapies or treatments have failed (please feel free to look at the official website www.eftuniverse.com for all Scientific studies and research relating to EFT). And the additional bonus is that once learnt, EFT can be applied in any circumstance, so if a woman is suffering from anxiety or panic attacks she can apply EFT to calm herself down. If her baby is crying and she can’t think straight, EFT can help to clarify things. If sleep evades her because the ‘video’ of the birth plays every time she closes her eyes, she can do several rounds of EFT. It can also help partners who witnessed the traumatic event and are themselves suffering and, believe it or not, a mother can be taught to do it on her baby who just can’t stop crying. EFT does not replace medication and women should always check with their GP that any pain or other symptoms do not require medical treatment before commencing EFT. However, it does provide a powerful, totally non-intrusive means of coping and a very successful way of ‘clearing’ the negative emotions associated with trauma.
I obviously do not prescribe medication or diagnose but use my knowledge of birth (I am a National Childbirth Trust trained Antenatal teacher and practising Natal Hypnotherapist™) to help the women I see. I know how birth should be and I know both from personal experience and in a professional capacity how it feels to have had a traumatic or negative experience. EFT sessions can be conducted face to face, through SKYPE or over the phone.
For more information call 07855 478175 or check out my website www.theholisticparent.co.uk
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