Healing from a traumatic birth

The following is from the Woman To Woman blog:
Many women, on telling stories of how they felt abused or traumatized during birth — or some other negative feeling, like having failed as a woman after having a C-section, or something — have their feelings dismissed with, “at least you have a healthy baby.” While there is certainly a place for looking for the “silver lining” in the midst of any cloud, no matter how dark, there is also a place for just putting your arm around somebody’s shoulders and “weep with those that weep, and mourn with those that mourn.” Dismissing a woman’s feelings does not help her — if anything, it only makes her feel worse, because then she has the added guilt of not being able to “just be happy” that her baby is healthy. Certainly she is happy that her baby is healthy… but can she not also be sad that it came at the cost of severe bodily trauma? — Especially if she is fairly certain that the C-section or whatever else that she endured during birth, was in fact not necessary for her baby to have been born healthy and well.
Certainly, not every woman who had a C-section is going to feel this way — and I’m glad of that, otherwise there would be at least 31.7% of women last year who were as traumatized in body and spirit as this apple was brutalized which would be unconscionable: 

It’s horrific enough that even one woman feels this way, much less every woman. This can be a point of contention among post-C-section women — some women can’t understand why others feel victimized by the same surgery that they had no problems with, or were even grateful for. Perhaps the image above will help everyone who does not have negative feelings about C-sections (or other birth trauma) understand those who do.  
Click here to go to The Unnecessarean for the original post

The image below is a painting I created to express some of the emotions about my c-section.
Painting Copyright 2010 - Taryn Goodwin

More information about healing from birth trauma: 


Happy Birth Day Annabelle!

Birth Notes from the Doula’s Perspective

I'm sure I left something out, as birth brings so many magical moments. The official birth story belongs to the couple.

It was April 15th and you were 39 weeks and 5 days pregnant. This birth would be a planned VBAC. You called me around 3:00am to let me know contractions had started an hour earlier. You decide to try and go back to sleep for a bit. Dad calls me at 6:17am to let me know that contractions are 5 minutes apart and he says that you are focusing through them; I assure you I will be at your home shortly. I arrive at your home at about 7:00am. I come in the house to see you rocking in the rocking chair; your face looks peacefully radiant as you close your eyes during contractions. I sit down at your side and massage your feet as we welcome a few contractions together and we discuss how wonderfully you are doing. They are about 2-4 minutes apart when I arrive. We prepare to go to the hospital and you make your son’s breakfast in the kitchen, pausing during a contraction to lean on Dad or the counter while you rock your hips back and forth, instinctually. You feed your son at about 8:30am after which he comes up to you and hugs your leg and smiles. The love in this moment was magical. Dad went to drop your son off at the sitter and you make final preparations to leave for the hospital.

We arrive at the hospital at about 10:00am.  You are 6cm, 90% effaced with a bulging bag. In triage, you stand against the wall or Dad for contractions, you say “Tell me about her…” and Dad goes on to tell you how beautiful and amazing your little girl is going to be. In that moment, I see you close your eyes as if you are imaging your daughter’s beauty and you gather the strength to continue.

Once admitted to the birth suite we dim the lights, turn on soothing music and you and Dad get in the tub, where he uses the shower head to stream warm water on your back and belly. I remind you to stay “loose and limp” as you take deep cleansing breaths during contractions. The water was cooling quickly, so the nurse and I ran basins of warm water from the sink in your room into your tub. Dad was sitting behind you in the shower and you found comfort by leaning in his lap between contractions. Dad was always reminding you how incredible you were with each contraction, even telling you “You’ll never have that same contraction again, just take them one at a time.”

In the bathroom the lights are off and the only light is that of the flicker of my flameless candle, it creates a mellow orange hue to the room. I notice your cesarean incision under the water, and I am reminded of your incredible strength. Your uterus so strong, your body…beautifully designed to do this.

You ask Dad to say a prayer and he prays for strength for you and baby Annabelle. You decide to get out of the tub and sit on the toilet for a while, we cover you with blankets and you notice a change of intensity in your contractions along with bloody show, I remind you that it means you are showing signs of cervical change! You try a few other positions in the room, eventually getting back into the tub. At 12:58pm you are feeling “pushy” and a bit nauseous so you are checked to be 8cm, 100% effaced with just a bit of an anterior lip. The nurse tells you its okay to bear down a bit with your urges. You moan lowly, grunting with the sensations. You mention that you are tired but you stay motivated and focused.

We breathe together, “Big deep breaths….here we go…. in... and out….and again, in... and out…”

At about 2:00pm you mention more pressure and you find yourself pushing more with each contraction. Your midwife comes in and checks you to be fully dilated with your water intact. She leaves the room for a minute only to return to find you squatting while holding on to the shower head on the wall while pushing. This is when your water must have ruptured, because the next time you were checked your water was gone. You get out of the tub and into the bed, pushing with your own urges, no coaching, and no counting, just you….breathing and pushing.

With Dad at your bedside, you reach down and touch your baby’s head as it slowly emerges from you. You even help pull your baby up and on to your chest as she is born at 2:21pm. Dad cried tears of joy and you rejoice “We did it!” Annabelle only cries once, pinks up in a heartbeat and literally crawls to your breast and latches perfectly. A breathe taking moment! After you spent an hour bonding and breastfeeding, Dad held baby Annabelle skin to skin for the first time...

This birth was filled with so much love and strength! Congratulations! You did amazing, momma!

With love,

Taryn Goodwin, CD(DONA)


Those GROSS people who nurse their 2 year olds!

The decision to nurse past infancy is a personal one, and please understand that choosing not to nurse longer, or not nursing at all does not make you less of a great mother. I just want to help shed some light on this often misunderstood topic. 

The cultural assumptions we make about "extended" or full term nursing sadden me. Let me start by saying that I don't like the term "extended breastfeeding". It implies that we are doing something beyond what is normal. I prefer to call it full-term breastfeeding.

This morning I saw a friend's facebook post that encouraged full-term breastfeeding, the comments that followed her post inspired me to write this post...

Some of the comments by readers were:

"Research has shown that children are biologically meant to be weaned somewhere between the ages of 3 1/2 and 7." Um, gross..."

"if you're old enough to ask for it..."

"Hey I can use google too and find info on extended breastfeeding, doesn't make it any less gross. But thanks for this novel though..."

Don't get me wrong...I get it, I used to have some of the same thoughts about nursing past infancy, the idea of a walking, talking toddler nursing sounded somewhat "ick" to me at one time. That was until I had my son, whose sweet spirit led me to seek out the truth about full-term breastfeeding. There is something remarkable and powerful about seeing Jude's face so rosy with contentment as he nurses. I know in my heart that we will continue to nurse until he is ready to wean. If that offends you or you think its gross, please reconsider making judgments and read some facts about the benefits of nursing past infancy.

First off, there’s this assumption that it’s something moms do for themselves. This requires the logic that a mother’s milk has no value nutritionally or emotionally to a toddler or preschooler (NOT TRUE). Now, lets prove it...

Proven nutritional and emotional benefits of full-term nursing:
In the second year (12-23 months), 448 mL of breastmilk provides:

  • 29% of energy requirements
  • 43% of protein requirements
  • 36% of calcium requirements
  • 75% of vitamin A requirements
  • 76% of folate requirements
  • 94% of vitamin B12 requirements
  • 60% of vitamin C requirements
- Dewey 2001

  • "Antibodies are abundant in human milk throughout lactation" (Nutrition During Lactation 1991; p. 134).
  • "Human milk expressed by mothers who have been lactating for >1 year has significantly increased fat and energy contents, compared with milk expressed by women who have been lactating for shorter periods. During prolonged lactation, the fat energy contribution of breast milk to the infant diet might be significant." - Mandel 2005
  • "The American Academy of Family Physicians notes that children weaned before two years of age are at increased risk of illness (AAFP 2001)."

And according to Sally Kneidel in "Nursing Beyond One Year" (New Beginnings, Vol. 6 No. 4, July-August 1990, pp. 99-103.):
"Research reports on the psychological aspects of nursing are scarce. One study that dealt specifically with babies nursed longer than a year showed a significant link between the duration of nursing and mothers' and teachers' ratings of social adjustment in six- to eight-year-old children (Ferguson et al, 1987). In the words of the researchers, 'There are statistically significant tendencies for conduct disorder scores to decline with increasing duration of breastfeeding.'
Full-term breastfeeding is NORMAL:
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that "Breastfeeding should be continued for at least the first year of life and beyond for as long as mutually desired by mother and child... Increased duration of breastfeeding confers significant health and developmental benefits for the child and the mother... There is no upper limit to the duration of breastfeeding and no evidence of psychological or developmental harm from breastfeeding into the third year of life or longer." (AAP 2005)
  • The World Health Organization emphasizes the importance of nursing up to two years of age or beyond (WHO 1992, WHO 2002).
  • A US Surgeon General has stated that it is a lucky baby who continues to nurse until age two. (Novello 1990)

When it comes to creating over-dependence Dr. Jack Newman says:
"And breastfeeding makes the toddler dependent? Don’t believe it. The child who breastfeeds until he weans himself (usually from 2 to 4 years), is usually more independent, and, perhaps, more importantly,more secure in his independence. He has received comfort and security from the breast, until he is ready to make the step himself to stop. And when a child makes that step himself, he knows he has achieved something, he knows he has moved ahead. It is a milestone in his life of which he is proud.
Often we push children to become ‘independent” too quickly. To sleep alone too soon, to wean from the breast too soon, to do without their parents too soon, to do everything too soon. Don’t push and the child will become independent soon enough. What’s the rush? Soon they will be leaving home. You want them to leave home at 14? If a need is met, it goes away. If a need is unmet (such as the need to breastfeed and be close to his mother), it remains a need well into childhood and even the teenage years.
Of course, breastfeeding can, in some situations, be used to foster an over-dependent relationship. But so can food or toilet training. The problem is not the breastfeeding. This is another issue."

On the "If your old enough to ask for it logic..." So...when my son is old enough to ask for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, he is then too old for them as well? Babies have ALWAYS asked to nurse with their rooting cues or cries in infancy!

I think the misinformation and judgemental opinions about full-term nursing come from how we THINK toddlers relate to breasts. Come on, toddlers don’t relate to breasts as sexual objects. WE assume that toddlers relate to breasts with sexuality in mind. Ridiculous!

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