Birth Trauma Therapy: COVID-19 Represents a Different Kind of Birth Trauma
If you’re pregnant during COVID-19, you may be expecting a kind of birth trauma unlike anything you could have anticipated. Or maybe you have already experienced it. While the majority of births have been safe for both mothers and newborns during this time, parents are having to give birth in an overrun hospital system that increases their and their baby’s risk of contracting the virus. In addition, limited visitor policies may mean you’re giving birth with only one visitor or perhaps, none.
These complications have led many women to consider or go forward with at-home births, which may not have been in their original plan. In phone and video therapy at Tribeca Maternity, we’ll help you work through the specific trauma of what it means to give birth during this time.
Your Birth Trauma May Not Be in the Past Tense
The immediate danger may be over, you and your baby may be safe, but terrifying experiences—like a threat to perhaps your or your baby’s life—don’t always simply go away. Your family, partner, and friends may have moved on, while you haven’t. In online therapy, in addition to in-person therapy in our offices in Lower Manhattan and Park Slope, Brooklyn after COVID, we’ll meet you where you’re at, talking about not only what happened, but also what is still happening. Our team includes skilled trauma therapists who are also experts in the particulars of traumatic birth, and familiar with the challenges new parents have to manage while recovering physically and emotionally. We acknowledge that that recovery looks different during the self-isolation of COVID-19, and you don’t have to be alone in it.
You May Also Need Logistical Help
Trauma is complex. When you’re in it, even basic functioning can be challenging, let alone with the added work of a new baby. Together we’ll figure out your concrete needs and how to get them met remotely during COVID-19, including:
- Medical follow-ups
- Your baby’s care and recovery
- Finding time to get rest
- Getting the right people around you so you have the help you need, even if that might look different during quarantine
And You Also Need to Make Peace With a Very Real Loss
Birth trauma is particularly challenging to heal from not only because it is so often underappreciated, but also because recovering parents are tasked with making meaning of what happened while managing all of the challenges related to caring for a newborn.
Birth trauma can be life-threatening, painful, and often experienced without one’s partner, or in some instances, almost entirely alone. The plan you had and the birth you imagined was taken away from you. You need space to grieve that loss.
Even when a traumatic birth results in a healthy baby and a birth mother ultimately recovers, the experience must be respected as real trauma with lasting emotional consequence. Too often the trauma of the experience is underappreciated, even by medical and mental health professionals. Trauma needs respect and attention, as well as time, space, and at times, mental health assistance to heal.
Birth Trauma Happens to Couples
While you or your baby may have been the ones to experience danger, birth trauma happens to the entire family. Partners are often traumatized too. In birth itself, partners can have such different experiences. Partners may literally not be in the same room, particularly if the birth is happening during COVID-19, and are often tasked with making different sorts of decisions not as collaboratively as they may have wanted or expected.
One of the units that can be harmed by trauma is the relationship itself. Couples often need strong leadership in helping them discuss the trauma in a manner that supports healing. In online couples therapy, as well as in-person couples therapy in our offices in Park Slope, Brooklyn and Tribeca post-COVID, we help couples talk about trauma with the right guideposts, including:
- What happened during the birth for both partners?
- What is currently happening at home?
- What are some ways that each partner experienced the trauma separately that can be shared in order to understand each person’s perhaps quite different experience and pain?
- What was and is each person’s emotional experience?
- What are each partner’s current emotional and logistical needs?
We recognize that birth trauma can also complicate a couple’s sexual relationship, which can be especially difficult to discuss. We help couples have those conversations so they can move toward healing in all aspects of their relationship.
Meanwhile, the emotional work for couples is about more than talking about what happened. It’s about creating a shared understanding, allowing space to get close to each partner’s pain and grief, and finding ways of moving forward so that the trauma no longer disrupts both individuals and the relationship itself.