Birth is a social event
Birth is a social event. For a mother, how she experiences labor and birth can significantly influence how she sees her self as a woman, as a mother, and as an individual. Then, these experiences can influence the relationship she has with herself, her baby and her family. For the baby pre and perinatal experiences are the primary blueprint for who they will become, (yes, believe it or not, primary, but that is a future blog topic for another day – a fascinating topic involving the epigenetics work of Dr Bruce Lipton and others).
Mom can have a difficult birth while baby has a beautiful experience, or baby can have a hard experience while mom has wonderful one or both can have the same kind of experience. Trauma can exist for both, mom and baby. It may start in the womb or later on. There are many kinds of trauma and it can be handed down from one generation to another. The unconscious body-brain can hold trauma and manifest silently in daily life through emotional and physical problems.
As adults we have developed defensive mechanisms to protect us against painful experiences or revisiting trauma, which subconsciously we feel are to be avoided at all costs. Babies haven’t yet built defensive mechanisms. All that we have experienced before and after birth is stored as implicit memory, meaning it will shape unconscious movement such as behaviors, beliefs, and personality.
This kind of trauma is often unseen leaving feelings of discomfort, fear, defensiveness or hypersensitivity. A person who had an early trauma may have not any clue that their capacity for life, love, and even feeling good, is diminished. There may be a vague sense of emptiness or dissatisfaction or there may be an underlying sense of being unwanted. With early trauma, some people begin life having already lost touch with a part of their being, perhaps without knowing something is missing.
We often refer to a person’s birth pattern as the silent influence of certain type of behaviors or reactions, which is deeply related to how our birth happened and where we might have experienced higher levels of discomfort in the process of being born. When our primary blueprint is of feeling unsafe it is very difficult to make connections with other people due to the impulse toward self-defense that marked the beginning of our life. To reach out and connect with people in meaningful and intimate ways we cannot start from a place of fear. We must feel acknowledged, seen, accepted, and respected from the beginning of life in order to express our authentic selves.
A mother whom was born prematurely once told my class how overwhelming it was for her to start any kind of project. After the professor of the class explained to her the importance of the sequence of steps in the process of birth and how it is similar to other projects in her life, she understood how her birth influenced her. As a baby in the middle of her own birth, she felt stress and being overwhelmed by a process that did not proceed fully and with a natural rhythm. That realization marked the beginning of her healing. It brings me joy to see people truly benefit from this kind of work.
Personally and professionally I have seen many times over how our prenatal and perinatal experiences set the stage for the way we feel and behave in our daily life, so often silently shaping our own life without us noticing its influence. I’ve also seen and experienced myself that although it is not easy to reconnect to one’s core self and repair these missing’s parts, it is possible and very rewarding. It takes courage, compassionate support, and above all you must feel safe to begin the journey. I also know we can be healed. It is a liberating and transformational process well worth the effort.