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Processing Your Birth Trauma, Tips from an Expert in Birth Story Listening

Guest Post By Emmy Kissinger, Certified Birth Story Listener and Birth Story Writing Expert.


Discover empowering insights and actionable advice from a certified birth story listener on processing your birth trauma.


Becoming a parent is a profound and transformative experience that can leave a lasting impact on a person’s emotional well-being. For many, the journey into parenthood is a joyous occasion. Still, for some, the memories of their experience related to fertility, pregnancy, birth, or postpartum may be accompanied by trauma and anxiety. In this article, we will explore the concept of processing the trauma related to any of these early parenting events and share valuable tips from an expert in birth story listening.


Emmy Kissinger, Certified Birth Story Listener and Birth Story Writing Expert
Emmy Kissinger, Certified Birth Story Listener and Birth Story Writing Expert

Understanding Birth Trauma


Birth trauma refers to the psychological and emotional distress that can result from a difficult or distressing childbirth experience. While childbirth is a natural process, it can sometimes be accompanied by unexpected complications, medical interventions, or emotional challenges that leave a lasting impact on the mother's mental and emotional well-being.


After a challenging birth experience, the self-beliefs and feelings we carry from our birth story can become a significant aspect of your life that can impact your perception of yourself as a parent, your confidence as a woman, and your reactions when you experience psychological triggers in real-time. Processing your birth story involves revisiting and reframing your birth experience, allowing you to gain deeper insights into the emotions and release unwanted feelings or physical sensations held in the body. This can manifest as a heaviness on your chest or a sick feeling in your stomach that just won't seem to go away. 


Exploring your birth story offers numerous benefits, positively impacting your emotional well-being, sense of empowerment, and relationships. By taking the time to reflect on your unique birth journey, you can find a place of peace and contentment.


Personal Transformation After Processing Your Birth Story 


The journey of birth story processing can lead to personal transformation. Many individuals who have undergone challenging birth experiences find solace and empowerment through the process. For instance, in my work, birth storytellers will report being able to go on to have an empowering second birth, find the courage to pursue having a second baby, gain the confidence to quit their jobs to follow their passions, or feel like they can finally share their birth story without bursting into tears. 


These personal transformations highlight the potential for growth and resilience that can emerge from taking the time to reflect and recover from the emotional turmoil of a traumatic birth. 


Photo of Emmy Kissinger during delivery. Photo credit: Sweet Little You Photography
Photo of Emmy Kissinger during delivery. Photo credit: Sweet Little You Photography

Ways to Begin Processing Your Traumatic Birth Story


Writing Your Birth Story: A Therapeutic Approach

One effective method of processing your birth story is through writing. This therapeutic approach allows you to explore and express your emotions in a structured manner. Here are three writing methods you can consider:


  • Write from the Heart: If writing comes naturally to you, open a notebook or document on your computer and begin telling your birth story. Start from a point that feels right to you – the journey to conception, the first contractions, or the postpartum experience. Include moments that stand out, such as the first meeting with your baby, feeding experiences, and more.

  • Create an Outline: For those who prefer a structured approach, start by creating an outline. Draft your story, incorporating vital elements like the journey to conception, labor, postpartum experiences, and significant moments. This method allows for a thoughtful and organized exploration of your birth story.

  • Use Prompts: Prompts are particularly useful for those whose birth memories may have faded, consider using prompts to guide your writing. Reflect on moments of inner strength during labor, the role of your healthcare team, spiritual experiences, emotions during childbirth, postpartum support, and your physical and emotional journey in the days and weeks after giving birth.


Rituals for Birth Story Processing

Beyond writing, another powerful way to process your birth story is through rituals. 

Rituals can serve as healing interventions, transforming painful memories into sources of strength. Here are some rituals to consider:


  • Closing of the Bones Ceremony: This involves being wrapped in blankets or a rebozo and gently rocked back and forth. A pelvic massage often follows, symbolizing closure and rejuvenation.

  • Cord-Cutting Ceremony: Designed to sever energetic ties, this ritual helps release connections to people or situations involved in your birth experience that may be draining your energy.

  • Yoni Steaming Ceremony: This ceremony involves sitting over a pot filled with herbs meant to heal the body, aiding in spiritual, mental, and physical well-being.


Expert Assistance for Birth Story Processing

If you find it challenging to navigate the emotional terrain of your birth story, seeking expert assistance can be invaluable. Certified birth story listeners are trained professionals who can guide you through this transformative process. These individuals provide a secure space for processing your birth narrative, offering support and insights that can facilitate healing.

Additionally, for those who experienced traumatic births, seeking treatment for postpartum depression and/or anxiety from mental health professionals specializing in motherhood transitions can be beneficial.


Global Impact of Processing Your Birth Story 

Processing your birth stories is not just a personal journey; it has the potential to contribute to a global shift.


By openly sharing and embracing diverse birth narratives, we foster a sense of interconnection and empathy that transcends cultures and generations. 

This act of taking the time to explore our birth narrative serves as an empowering catalyst to enhance our ability to see the wisdom that lies in our birth story so that we can share supportive insights with others who are about to give birth. It also opens avenues for educational initiatives and advocacy, paving the way for positive transformations in birthing practices and experiences.


In conclusion, processing birth trauma is a courageous and empowering journey. Whether through writing, rituals, or seeking expert assistance, the transformative impact can lead to personal growth and resilience to contribute to a broader positive shift in how birth experiences are perceived and supported in your inner circle and beyond. 


Learn more about Emmy: 

Emmy Kissinger is a Certified Birth Story Listener and experienced mental health professional. She brings a wealth of birth experiences to her practice. Her journey includes a c-section and multiple home births. Emmy offers personalized one-on-one sessions, guiding individuals toward finding inner peace and acceptance in their unique birth stories. To learn more about her services, workshops, or the guided birth story listening process, visit her website at www.arrivalstories.co or connect with her on Instagram @emmy_kissinger

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