Well, the truth is…there are so many lies about traumatic birth! Lies, and myths and misperceptions, that each serve to maintain the deception that women must just ‘get over it’ and ‘be grateful’. These lies and myths are fed largely by ignorance, and perpetuated by the media, by health professionals, and even by ourselves.
Everyone has an opinion on birth, and especially on the existence (or not!) of traumatic birth…and from our Ministers in Parliament, down to the local check-out chick at the supermarket, everyone feels entitled to share their opinion with the world. And that’s because everyone was, at some stage, born! Everyone has a relationship with ‘birth as they know it”, often developed through a combination of tv sitcoms, romantic comedy movies, horror stories told by friends, and family legends passed down through generations.
The lies that abound are endless, the myths are rarely challenged, and the misperceptions are sadly maintained and perpetuated through lack of awareness. And the internet is buzzing with online versions of these untruths.
We’ve read chat forums that continue the tradition, telling women who are suffering from birth trauma that the most important thing in the end is a healthy baby, that their relationship is now doomed for keeps, and that they should stop whinging and think about women who have it worse than they do. Sigh. There is much work to be done.
We have begun this blog to try and address the sea of untruths that spans our world. These lies and myths about traumatic birth are damaging. They prevent women (and men) from processing and healing. And they have the potential to – and sometimes do – destroy families.
Winston Churchill once said, “The truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end; there it is.”
The truth about traumatic birth IS incontrovertible. Birth trauma is real. It is researched, documented. And birth trauma is also largely avoidable. Considering how widespread birth trauma is, this is a very sad truth.
We, as a culture, need to acknowledge the presence and prevalence of Birth Trauma in our community. There is too much traumatic birth (current stats show 1 in 3 women are reporting a traumatic birth[i], and this well-regarded study was undertaken in Brisbane, Australia).
This is what women need to know…along with certain health professionals, well-meaning partners and mothers-in-laws and even people at the check-out at the shops :
Traumatic birth is not normal birth. And that is the truth.
And if women are not having normal births, we need to offer them support, and understanding, and a chance to be heard.
Gandhi said, “Truth is by nature self-evident. As soon as you remove the cobwebs of ignorance that surround it, it shines clear.” This blog is our way of sweeping away those cobwebs of ignorance that abound about traumatic birth, in order to let the truth shine through, and support the healing process of wounded women everywhere.
We hope you’ll join us here!
©Melissa Bruijn and Debby Gould, Birthtalk.org 2010
Melissa and Debby are the authors of How to Heal a Bad Birth : making sense, making peace and moving on. This ground-breaking self-help book takes the reader on a ‘Choose your own adventure’ style of healing journey… because every woman’s path to healing will be different. The pages are filled with heartfelt quotes from women, facts and insights about birth trauma, and ideas for dealing with common emotions that arise such as sadness, guilt, feelings of failure, anger and partner issues. There are step-by-step tools for healing, and immense support and compassion contained within these pages. Say the authors : “For the past 15 years we’ve been working with women after a traumatic birth in our ‘Healing From Birth’ support sessions. Because we’ve see the impact birth can have, we are gentle with women’s hearts as they step forward and acknowledge that they are ready to take the journey to healing. And we are with you all the way.” Go to howtohealabadbirth.com to learn more
[i] Gamble, Jenny and Creedy, Debra and Moyle, Wendy and Webster, Joan and LcAllister, Margaret and Dickcson, Paul (2005) Effectiveness of a Counseling Intervention After A Traumatic Childbirth : A Randomized Controlled Trial. Birth 32(1):pp11-19