“By courageously diving into your wounds, patiently allowing the suffering to do its work, neither indulging nor repressing the pain, you reach the deeper levels of the psyche where you encounter your larger (soul) story.”
– Soulcraft: Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche, by Bill Plotkin &Thomas Berry
How do our life stories influence our birth?
Birthing as a rite of passage means that how we ‘do’ life plays out in how we ‘do’ birth. It means that how we show up for life, plays a role in how we show up for birth. Our patterns, our way of being, our values, the state of our nervous system, all impact on how our birthing unfolds.
An area I’m increasingly interested in my work and my personal journey of healing after birth is how our developmental characteristics and experiences impact on our how we birth and parent.
Most of us know that if you have survived childhood abuse or neglect then this could impact during the birth/parenting phase. But what a lot of people don’t realize about trauma is that it’s not just the “big” Trauma we often think of that impacts. It’s also the trauma from a “thousand cuts”. It’s the way we grow up in a world and environment that can feel unsafe (especially for Black, Indigenous and people of colour), or if we grow up feeling criticized, or not listened to or not valued then our nervous systems learns to be in a fearful (activated or hyper aroused) state.
This has an impact on birth, when we are literally in our most vulnerable and open state and need to be able to feel safe and relaxed.
An important part of holistic birth preparation is facing ourselves and recognizing: What are the stories that you’ve been telling yourself, possibly since your childhood, that could impact on your birth journey? E.g. “I can’t handle pain” or “I like to do things perfectly” or “I don’t like to be vulnerable” or “I like to be in control”. There are endless variations. We all have our unique flavour of the negative internal dialogue that is so common.
How could these stories show up for you when you’re at your altar of birth, and potentially become seeds of emotional birth trauma later on?
Pregnancy is not the time to only think about manifesting the perfect birth that we want, though this is a powerful, intentional act to do. My strongest belief about childbirth preparation is that we need to go beyond just focusing on how we want our birth and postpartum to be. We need to actively not repress and avoid our own shadow. Because if there is ever a time in our lives when our shadow will emerge, it’s during the epic transformation of birthing.
If you’re pregnant or planning to conceive and would like a safe space to be held, heard and supported in this work, then please reach out. You don’t need to do this alone.