{new #OutsideTheMomBox post} "Did I have a traumatic #childbirth?"

I read a terrific blog post recently that one mom wrote about her childbirth experience. Her labor was long but not concerning. Neither she or the baby were in any kind of danger. From all outside appearances, things looks fine. The exact opposite of how healthcare professionals define "traumatic childbirth". But to this mom, her childbirth experience was traumatic. This is an important distinction.

If we followed the legal definition of domestic violence in terms of providing services to those in need, very few women would ever get help. The legal definition of domestic violence is just that limiting. Similarly if we allow medical professionals to define (or not) our childbirth experience, many of us would not only not have the opportunity to process it but perhaps more of us would feel reluctant to name our childbirth as traumatic. Both are problematic when it comes to our mental health. 

{Funny how both are "women's issues", isn't it?}

We make birth plans, hire doulas, take a childbirth ed class...all things we do to claim our childbirth experience. Claiming your childbirth experience doesn't end when that precious baby arrives in the world! If you feel that your childbirth experience was traumatic for any reason, that is enough of a qualification. 

You have a healthy baby, right? So what exactly do you have to "complain" about? Talking about your childbirth experience (or any aspect of mothering for that matter) is not complaining; it's you taking responsibility for your healing, your self-esteem and your identity as a woman and a mother. As new moms, it's important to practice separating out needs as individuals from our role as a mother so both pieces of yourself are allowed to matter. We've never done this before. As an individual, you have needs, dreams and wants. They are important. But as a mom, you're often told that your needs don't count. But that doesn't mean that those wants and needs go away. They are still important; we just need to own them better and feel supported doing so. Talking about your childbirth is one way to do this.

No, my childbirth experience wasn't traumatic. I feel very lucky because I have known so many women who did feel that theirs was traumatic but didn't feel that they could talk about it or name it for what it truly was. (And certainly no one asks!) This void is why I've started offering trauma counseling. Trauma counseling is a time for women to talk about a trauma related to their pregnancy or childbirth experience. So if you need to claim that childbirth experience as traumatic, today or five years now, you absolutely should...and feel supported doing so.

As always, thank you for reading! I am grateful that you're here.