Planning to Birth after Sexual Trauma
Supporting women and their families is very important because what we know the trauma of Childhood Sexual Abuse (CSA) has vast implications to the family and to society. Just because the abuse has stopped does not not mean it has ended… Finding cracks of light within the darkness helps.
Prevalence of childhood sexual abuse:
- 25 to 40% in females
- 20 to 25% in males
- Perpetrators: 10 to 1, male versus female
- Perpetrators usually victimize numerous people
- In more than 90% of cases of abuse, the child victim knows the perpetrator
And all this is just …
Just the beginning… of the work that I am called to do.
As a Nurse-Midwife, I met these women in my exam rooms and on the labor and delivery unit of the hospitals where I worked. Currently, I meet these women in my treatment rooms where I offer therapeutic massage and bodywork or during the classes that I teach addressing women’s healthcare issues.
Childhood Sexual Abuse causes trauma in the victim’s life and its effects last long beyond the time of the abuse.
Childhood Sexual Abuse survivors are at high-risk for further traumatization during childbirth.
My work as Birth Counselor for women who have experienced childhood sexual abuse begins with a woman reaching out to me via email or telephone asking for an appointment.
When we meet, we discuss what has happened in her past, to develop a better understanding of her history and discuss the impact childhood sexual abuse may have on her labor and her birth.
From here, we do a series of exercises that identify what may be a trigger for her during her labor and birth process and explain why this is true. We do a great deal of educating.
Then we establish a follow-up visit where we sit down together with her partner and her Doula, if she is open to it, and discuss ways to manage the identified triggers that have been acknowledged, do a series of exercises and create her birth plan.
There are times when a woman’s abuse comes to the forefront when she attempts to nurse her baby. I meet with these women after they have had their breastfeeding assessed by a lactation consultant and/or medical provider to acknowledge that the issues surrounding nursing have nothing to do with the breasts or the baby, such as tongue-tie.
I also meet with women who have a traumatic delivery, offering them support.
Questions usually asked:
How long will our work together take?
- Usually two visits, possibly three
Are there any negative impacts from birth counseling?
- There may be some anxiety as we discuss past histories
- Some difficulty sleeping that should resolve as counseling continues
What are the benefits of doing this work?
- A safe place where you are listened to without judgment
- A more educated and empowered woman
- A labor and delivery that feels more manageable
- Better bonding with your newborn
- An improved breastfeeding relationship
- A better post-partum experience
- Post-traumatic growth