Empowering Healing with EMDR Therapy
As you anticipate the arrival of your bundle of joy, you ponder the “what ifs” of the upcoming birth. You experience your delivery day. It passes, but not without leaving a lasting impact, forever altering you. Life is expected to return to normal, as normal as life can be. But what now? How do you care for yourself and possibly this child? Why is nobody addressing the trauma? The time has come to break the silence, for yourself and all the other women out there. By treating birth trauma with EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) women can begin to heal. You deserve wellness. There is hope. But first, let’s delve into the true nature of Birth Trauma.
Understanding Birth Trauma:
In simple terms, Birth Trauma refers to the diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) resulting from the trauma experienced during or after childbirth. Parents who undergo intense labor, require significant medical intervention like usage of forceps, face the risk of baby or maternal loss, or receive inadequate postpartum care may experience panic and fears in the aftermath of birth. These experiences give rise to flashbacks, avoidance of birthing-related thoughts, unexplained irritability, and self-blame following delivery. Postnatal PTSD has been long neglected. While all attention focuses on the baby, who is looking out for the mother? Birth Trauma doesn’t simply vanish, but therapy options are available.
The Power of EMDR Therapy:
EMDR is an empirically validated treatment for Birth Trauma, boasting success rates of 79% (source: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31805778/). EMDR, a psychotherapy technique where the therapist actively uses bilateral stimulation to guide you through the processing of your trauma, enables the parent to target negative thoughts and actively work towards instilling positive beliefs about oneself. While EMDR does not eradicate the memory linked to the birth experience, it actively reduces flashbacks, diminishes anxiety, and alleviates emotional distress associated with the birth, creating a space for your body to recognize the events as an isolated incident rather than an ongoing trauma.
Preparing for EMDR Therapy:
Unfortunately, just like many professions, there are under-qualified teaching programs for EMDR therapy. I strongly advise finding a therapist who is currently trained under an EMDRIA approved foundation because working with a qualified EMDR therapist is an absolute necessity. You can search https://www.emdria.org/find-an-emdr-therapist/ for a therapist licensed in your state of residency and further verify if they specialize in postnatal trauma. In general, preparing for your EMDR session is similar to any virtual therapy session. Prior to logging in, make yourself comfortable. I recommend using the restroom, pouring a soothing drink, finding a blanket or a comforting item such as a fidget or grounding tool, and taking a few deep breaths in and out. Additionally, please note that after your EMDR session, you will require some personal recovery time. Plan to allocate time for activities such as taking a walk, having a nutritious snack, or indulging in a well-deserved nap.
The EMDR Therapy Process:
EMDR therapy involves entering through the 8 phases of: History Taking, Resourcing, Assessment, Desensitization, Installation, Body Scan, Closure, and Reevaluation. During these phases the therapist will guide the client through several sets of bilateral stimulation while reprocessing the trauma from the birthing experience. EMDR will not erase or eradicate the traumatic memories, but it will allow a space for your brain to compartmentalize the details from trauma so that they are not as intensely impacting you when facing potential triggers. EMDR therapist work to hold space for intense emotions and guide through a variety of supportive exercises in a contained environment.
Empowering Your Healing Journey:
Now it’s time to speak up about birth trauma. The first steps include noticing the way your birthing experience affects you and the ongoing triggers you continue to experience. Practicing self-care via mindfulness exercises, spending time journaling, and forming positive connections with other supportive women are crucial tools in addition to receiving therapy. Pairing these exercises with weekly or biweekly EMDR sessions allows a space for women to take care of themselves and prioritize their healing journey.
Treating birth trauma with EMDR therapy offers an opportunity for women to share and process the depth of their experiences in a healing environment. You don’t need to hold onto this trauma any longer. Commit to your recovery journey. Reach out today. You’ve endured so much. Tune into the path for healing while we discover strength in vulnerability while rewriting the meaning of the narrative of birth.