Friday, November 1, 2013

Canaries in a Coal Mine: Birth Trauma Survivors

The experience of the birth of my daughter has been by far, the most negative experience of my life - it was the most terrifying, most painful, most disempowering, most psychologically wounding and dehumanizing thing that I have ever known. The only saving feature is that my daughter emerged from that experience, ultimately unscathed - and for that I will always be grateful. It was the kind of experience, that having had it - knowing it first hand - you would do anything to prevent any other human from experiencing the same. Indeed - I expect that I never will be the same, that I never will look at things in the way I would have had I never known Birth Trauma.

Much as veterans look upon war with different eyes than civilians, or, those who have never known war - survivors of Birth Trauma look upon birth much differently. They see the destructive potential of birth, they know it can decimate the lives of women and their families. Their struggles in the aftermath are often silent - the stigma of admitting that birth was not what you thought it should be, that birth was negative - is often too great. Their pain is often dismissed (this is particularly true if the child born of the birth is ultimately healthy). So rather than learn from them, rather than honour them, rather than help them in whatever ways are possible: we expect them to get on with the business of mothering.

And that is shameful, because these mothers see what others can not: the toxicity of the system and the culture that is prevailing. Birth Trauma victims are the literal canaries in a coal mine. Furthermore, by empowering these women, to speak up and speak out about their experiences AND just as importantly, to HEAR what they have to say and to LEARN from them- it is possible that the system could change. That other women might avoid the same suffering - or that when such suffering happens, that maybe it doesn't have to be as damaging.

The experiences of Birth Trauma victims are awful - worse is to fail to take the opportunity to learn from them and to prevent others from enduring the same harm.

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