Solace After Challenging Birth

Posted on June 18, 2009. Filed under: Birth, Breastfeeding, Cesarean, Pregnancy, vbac |

Solace After Challenging Birth

Why We Need an Organization Like Solace for Mothers

For many women, childbirth is an empowering, expansive experience. And for some, childbirth brings dashed dreams, grief, and the unshakable sense that your body and your mind are damaged. Some women feel betrayed by their care providers and the place in which they birthed. Sometimes fate itself interferes when the baby comes too soon, bearing health problems or even, tragically, when the baby does not survive. Even when birth is “normal,” some women are stunned to discover that bonding with their babies grows over a period of time rather than unfolding all at once.

Our culture can give women the clear message that discussing these experiences aloud is shameful and unacceptable. Women often report that any emotion other than gratitude or joy is silenced. Social and family pressures tell women, “just get over it and move on.”

Sometimes moving on requires understanding what happened, mastering the story and the experience, and even breaking the silence about what occurred. At times, a woman is ready to take these steps toward healing immediately after her delivery. For some individuals, this process can come years after the experience. Challenging childbirth can have a sense of “freezing in time” until the silence can at last be broken.

Further well-hidden facts are that the greatest risks to a woman’s life in the year after childbirth are suicide and homicide by an intimate partner. Women in the childbearing year (from pregnancy through the first several months after birth) can experience an increase in emotional, financial or physical abuse in their homes. Both situations can be overcome if the woman finds appropriate help. Perhaps not surprisingly, women of color, women from cultures which are very different from that in the US, and women in significant stress over money and relationships are the least likely to reach out for support.

Solace for Mothers provides healing after traumatic childbirth through support. Support—in the form of a free telephone call with a trained peer counselor, in-person facilitated meetings to listen to and share birth-related stories in a safe and confidential setting, as well as referrals to community resources—is available by calling one number: 1-877-SOLACE4 (1-877-765-2334). We are also in the process of launching an online community for women dealing with these issues.

Birth and mental health professionals can obtain consultation, training and resources to support women in the very complex demands of the perinatal period by contacting Sharon Storton, MA, LMFT, CLE, CCHT at 408-370-7311. Evidence-based treatment options support timely, effective, and short-term care for women and families at this critical time. You can become a part of the network of providers to ensure that no new mother suffers alone.


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