Birth trauma: this is what it’s called when a woman suffers distress with a difficult birth associated with pain, sorrow or loss, leaving her vulnerable to long-term psychological effects.
How to love your body after birth trauma is probably the last thing on your mind at this point. Seeking psychological care and support is paramount; but at the same time, neglecting your body in its healing is not ideal. Supporting your body in its healing is important for your long-term physical health – and for your mental health as well.
So how do you learn to love your body after birth trauma?
Initially, you are sore to say the least; at worst, the pain is so bad you can’t sit comfortably or even pee or poo without pain. Later, when there’s space, the thought of having sex again arises – or maybe you’re just worried about keeping your partner waiting too long. But all of a sudden there’s fear around this. Maybe you can’t even connect with your body in this way; it’s like you have vaginal amnesia. Sometimes you feel like you don’t care if you never have sex again – but at the same time that thought bothers you. Still, you don’t even feel like you want to be seen naked; so much has changed about your body. To love your body seems like a ludicrous suggestion.
Here, I would say: love is an action, not a feeling.
Some women will feel love and affection for their body after childbirth, but many won’t. But even if you don’t feel love, you can act in a way that shows love and care for your body. Acting with love and care is what your body needs after it has been through this tremendous, transformative experience. You might have suffered physical trauma or damage – you might really FEEL “damaged” – but remember that you have been transformed by this experience.
So what can you do to show love for your body, even if you don’t feel it? Here are some suggestions:
Treat your body like a loved one does.
Think how you were gently touched or hugged after childbirth. Maybe your partner is trying to touch you gently and care for you – partners are often in awe of what you have accomplished and hope you will accept their gentle touch. Love yourself like others do.
Remember that your hands help heal.
You are in control of your own hands and what they do to help the healing process: gently resting over your scar area, channeling the flow of water from the shower onto your scar, gently massaging with a little oil, gently stretching the scars when the time is right. These are healing, loving actions you can do to your body.
Seek out therapeutic touch.
Therapeutic touch can be provided by a physiotherapist experienced in birth trauma, who can provide gentle manual therapy to encourage healing of both the body and the mind/spirit.
Please don’t hesitate to seek support; make an appointment with me to help you start to love your body after birth trauma.