How trust and faith can help heal birth trauma

How trust and faith can help heal birth trauma

Throughout my second pregnancy I became aware of a theme emerging: that of faith, i.e. trust. It first came up in the early months; the word just kept popping into my mind and repeating itself throughout. I paid special attention because this was a quality I knew I needed more of.

Through my rebirthing training I have learned that our early imprints from gestation, birth and childhood have a massive impact on our psyche and the way we view the world, creating a filter through which we decide the meaning of events. Also, more mysteriously, somehow the things that we expect have an amazing way of happening, be they positive or negative. When we have any challenging experience, our birth imprints get activated and will give us quite a ride unless we become aware of what is going on and work with it. Pregnancy is one of those times in our lives when everything gets very heightened.

I personally had a very difficult birth, taking 36 hours to arrive. At the end of this I was separated from my mother for ten days because she had a virus which could have been fatal to me. The stress of the labour and the impact of separation were to become my first major impressions of life. For example, I have always been oversensitive to stresses like loud noises and intense emotions and I’ve had issues around self-worth, which led to me being bullied at school and insecure within relationships. Being in a nursery with other needy crying babies, fed on a schedule and not in the arms of my mother at such an impactful time, seemed to create a very deep impression on me. (It’s worth noting that different souls will react to the same conditions in many varying ways.)

It is amazing to consider that the issues that predominate in our modern world originate for many back at the time of our birth. If we don’t experience life as safe, perhaps through being handled dispassionately by the birth team, or the noise and lights of the room overwhelm our delicate baby senses, or we don’t have the opportunity to bond well with our mother and father for any reason, then this will register within the neural pathways of our brains. We can become hardened, needy and defensive, get a little jumpy, and see things askew. Some of the largest pathways in our brain are created whilst in the womb and during our births; this is when our foundational defence systems are created.

This doesn’t mean that we can’t update our perceptions, but it does take conscious awareness and intention to do so. The pathways we use the most in our brains become superhighways and we are preset to protect ourselves from perceived danger, whether or not it is a reality. This is why we get into fights with our loved ones in which they really can’t understand our point of view; why we find repetitive themes thwarting us and it can feel so difficult to live the lives we’d love.

To change those pathways we need to observe life closely when we are feeling ‘activated’. Typically there will be clues all around us, inviting us to rethink the situation and literally change our minds. The trick is to become able to stop reacting and to be willing to consider that our read on a situation might be wrong. Breathing deeply helps to open the mind and keep the emotions moving along, personal observation and inner containment being the key. When we are under stress we breathe much more shallowly which keeps us swirling around in our old thought patterns and closing us down.

Through relinquishing my attempt to have the ultimate home birth, I was led to have an even bigger healing than I could have imagined

So, back to my pregnancy: there seemed to be lots of issues challenging my faith. How could I have the birth of my dreams at home as I didn’t connect well with the midwives from the hospital? How would I afford the birth pool I wanted, and how on earth would my partner and I manage with another child only nineteen months after our first was born? I was somewhat worried and I was doing a lot of soul searching. When I got this message of faith, it stayed with me, tantalising and taunting me as I fluctuated in my thoughts. I tried my hardest to remember to breathe deeply and to choose trusting thoughts.

One day I had a call from a new midwife, who told me that she specialised in one-on-one home care. This was a great surprise as the other midwives had told me that this was not available. In fact, I’d been considering whether I should give birth unassisted rather than have any of them come and join me for my home birth. I’d found them very focused on the medical aspects of birthing and could feel their discomfort with my energy, which I knew would impact on me deeply if they were with me. I only wanted someone there who really connected with me and could hold a vision of an easy ecstatic birth such as I’d experienced with my first baby. Due to the unhealed birth trauma in most people and a deep fear of retribution within our health system, many people involved in the medical world come into the room laden with energies unsupportive of birthing. They are often predisposed towards intervention and trying to make things happen rather than observing and supporting a natural process. Of course there is sometimes a need for medical aid, but the ideal would be for this to come from a place of wisdom and awareness rather than fear and anxiety. We are all affected by the energy of those around us and just one person feeling scared, limiting their breath and indulging in fearful mental pictures will quickly infect the room, whether it be the mother or her support team. The best we can do is to keep our breath moving and observe our emotions without magnifying them with our minds.

But with the message of faith already in my mind, I was delighted, when first talking with the new midwife on the phone, to see a rainbow hovering over the garden! They seem to show up a lot for me in important times. Maria seemed wonderful and fully understanding of my somewhat alternative thoughts around birthing. Then the first time she came to see me I jumped up to open the door and badly sprained my ankle. This led to me having to make some much needed changes in our household routine. The day it happened I was horrified: I was seven months pregnant and looking after a toddler! But I realised that I had a choice in how I viewed this turn of events and I chose to be open to a positive outcome. I saw that I literally had to let more support in, as I couldn’t even put my foot to the ground that day. I had taken on the brunt of our first child’s care and was getting seriously burnt out. I could no longer rock him off to sleep standing up, so my partner had to learn how to get him to settle, which was a huge and necessary freedom to me with the new baby on the way. Strangely enough my ankle healed in an incredibly short time and within a few days the pain had completely subsided. I also felt that life was inviting me to receive more support for the birth rather than going it alone.

The ideal would be for medical aid to come from a place of wisdom and awareness rather than fear and anxiety

I started researching birth pools, knowing from my first birth that having one already set up and heated when I went into labour would be a great benefit. My partner was concerned about cost, but remembering my message of faith I told him that I was sure we’d find a way. I held the faith and the birth pool came about easily.

The theme of faith went on. I was relieved to go into labour around midnight whilst my little one was sleeping. We had been somewhat concerned as we were not sure who was going to be able to take him if it happened during certain days or times. My labour progressed beautifully until around 3 am, when from inside the toy box came the eerie ring of a toy phone! I said to my partner that I was sure this meant that we were to call Maria now and she quickly came and joined us. Soon after, though, things seemed to slow down. I was getting very tired and Nevon, my partner, was starting to fall asleep, having worked all night. But my body had started to try and push the baby out, even though I was not fully dilated. I felt really blocked and the pain was getting hard to stand.

The midwife and I started to suspect that all was not well, but she reminded me to focus on my faith and encouraged me to walk up and down the stairs to see if this would move the baby.

Now it was nearing 6 am, when my little one would wake, so Nevon called my parents to come over and get him. Though they lived five minutes away, after an hour and half there was still no sign of them. I was now in serious pain and was also concerned and angry at their non-arrival. The toddler was yelling for me, Nevon had the television blaring upstairs trying to distract him and I was getting very stressed. Again Maria tried to remind me of my intentions of faith, but by this time I was no longer able to keep it together. I demanded an ambulance to take me to hospital; I knew that something was really going wrong with my labour and I became convinced that the only way I could have my baby was by caesarean. I was shocked to be having such a different experience from my first labour and yet totally clear that there was no way I could manage to cope at home with the level of pain I was in. My parents finally arrived and I was taken off to hospital.

I arrived after a two-minute ambulance ride at the very hospital that I had been born in: the last place on Earth I would have been willing to have my baby in under any other circumstances. Yet within 45 minutes of arrival there, surrounded by four kind and loving midwives and a totally supportive partner, I gave birth without drugs to my lovely little boy Jared. During that short ride, I’d dilated the five centimetres necessary and the baby had moved into the right position. 

Looking back I can see that my tiredness and the apparent ‘abandonment’ by my parents had activated my personal birth trauma and my body had gone into closedown. But through surrendering to an experience bigger than me and relinquishing my attempt to have the ultimate home birth, I was led to have an even bigger healing than I could have imagined.

The first person to see me after the birth was my mother, and being held and helped by her in those vulnerable moments was a deeply bonding and loving experience. It definitely overwrote with positivity the last experience we’d had together in that hospital when I was born.

The birth also brought me more into touch with other women, as I now understood what so many women go through in birthing their babies. I’d previously secretly thought that those who used drugs had really not given it their all. Now I know just how challenging birth can be and that I was very lucky indeed in my first birth. Interestingly, the following day, after I had that realisation, my neighbour spontaneously opened up and shared some very deep feelings around her birth experiences, which I accredit to my being more open and accessible through my own.

Later that day in the garden, whilst the others in the house were asleep, I got the clear message that faith is about more than trusting that I can create what I want in life: it is also about staying faithful when things go in unexpected ways. Through this, healings, heart openings and support can happen, leading to a clearing of the past and a deeper, broader connection to life and those around me.

Back to the neural pathways. I have a choice: I can either go down the old routes and see my parents, my partner and my life as unsupportive, or I can remember that this is just an old habit. I can stop myself before I go there again, intentionally strengthening the new pathways so I will have new experiences, which will then in turn further deepen my faith.


Lasare is a Spiritual Life Coach with an interest in the development of awareness in everyday life. She spent nine years in Los Angeles exploring many different spiritual disciplines, none of which has come close to challenging and deepening her sense of humility the way that parenting has! She now lives in South London with her family, writing, doing phone counselling and washing the dishes! 


Published in issue 13. Accurate at the time this issue went to print. 

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