Healing Trauma for Birthkeepers in the Age of the Spiritual Birth Crisis

If you are a birth professional, you uphold the highest tenets of birth practices, including a deep sense of integrity for evidence-based care, as well as mother-centric and baby-centric pregnancy and labor, delivery, and postnatal care. You strive to promote peace throughout the entire period of gestation through infancy. You know that the environment a mother experiences for her pregnancy and birth are highly influential for not only the mother, but for her baby, her partner, and her relationships. Breastfeeding, postnatal health, intimacy, and much more all follow cues from the birth environment.

Is it any wonder that you carry a great deal of responsibility on your shoulders?

Even in your “average”, smooth births, you recognize how much of yourself you give. You are a giver. But you walk through many fields to attend births. The landscape varies from birth to birth.

You help support a mother’s (or a family’s) vision for her birth, helping her form and develop her birthing plan. When the birth experience veers from the plan, the resulting dynamic typically becomes quite tense, and you need to pull your inner resources to help inform, reassure, and soothe your mothering client. This can be taxing if you have been supporting her for many sleepless hours during her labor, and it can be emotionally draining as well.

When working in a difficult birthing environment, things can (and often do) stray from the peaceful realm that you and your mothering clients have envisioned, planned for, researched, strived for. Midwives and doulas take on a great deal of added pressure when they have to contend with non-evidence based interventions.

Birth is a dynamic event, and can change course for various reasons. This can cause added stress to the mother-to-be and her partner, not to mention her baby. Intervention rates soar in our modern birth facilities, which heightens the adrenaline response, which thwarts the natural course of birth. In addition to providing a calm and peaceful environment and assisting a mother with managing all of the sensations throughout her labor, you now become a diplomat, an advocate, perhaps a gentle activist.

On a “smooth delivery day”, you have likely given up hours, possibly days, of time on-call. Lovingly, you have shelved your task list, or have found a way to squish it into a tiny window of time, molded around nature’s schedule.You take hours and days away from your loved ones. Maybe even from your own babies.

You are a goddess-serving warrior.

How do you maintain your own self-care and balance with all of these criteria factoring into your job description?

Our modern-day birthkeepers, especially doulas, are on the front lines of the modern birth terrain. It is not for the faint of heart. You are warriors. You stand in to hold the space when a mother should be left in peace to focus inwardly during her transitional phases. You speak up when a mother is vulnerable and her energies should not be engaged in contentious dialogue with abrupt birthing staff about policy versus personal needs.

How many of the births you attend play out in peace and joy? How many births find you gritting your teeth and doing double time as a patient advocate on top of a mother’s labor support person? As the Cesarean rate sits at a steady 33% national average (that’s 1 in 3 births on average, varying by state), and violent interventions are now coming to light in the media, are you at all surprised by the high burnout rate of birth professionals? Are you exhausted?

How do you prepare mentally/emotionally/spiritually to attend a birth?

When you come home from a birth, are you available to your families, or do you need time and space to decompress, to process what just occurred?

How do you clear those energies from a birth? Even the beautiful births are a wide open energetic space. All of the psychic energies from mother to partner to birth staff and medical staff meld together, and it leaves an imprint.

If you prepare placentas as part of your work, how do you keep your own energies separated from those subtle energies?

As a healer, I work with women to heal traumatic cellular memory – that’s how our life’s experiences get “stuck in our cells” as we perpetuate mental-emotional-physical responses through reliving the memory of the event. I work closely with mothers who have experienced birth trauma, and who have experienced physical and emotional postpartum challenges. I help to guide women from a “locked in” state of grief, emotional or mental paralysis, and anger, moving to a safe place of acknowledgement, deep self-acceptance, self-love, and empowerment.

Everybody deserves this status. And we all encounter experiences in some form or another, in varying degrees of intensity, which can weaken our foundation or press our buttons, causing anything from fatigue to anxiety to burnout.

When I work with you in healing space, we work through several different forms of modalities (I liken this to an artist using mixed media). I offer active listening to you, and we discuss patterns which arise for you which serve as triggers for suffering or perpetuating challenges. Once we illuminate these triggers, we safely and gently transmute those energies in healing space. We may employ energy healing, yoga and meditation techniques, journaling, affirmations, or homeopathy.

Would you like to learn methods to consciously prepare your personal energy field as part of your birth work? And how to self-clear your energy after you have completed a birthkeeping assignment (including a day of doulaing, or handling a placenta)? How to recalibrate yourself so that you are reinforced and therefore less susceptible to fatigue and burnout?

Consider joining me at the Sacred Birthkeepers Retreatmarnie_04, hosted by Stephanie Dawn, and filled with deep self-nurturing and recalibrating offerings including bodywork, yoga, delicious and healthy specially prepared meals, and sacred circle. I will be facilitating a group healing circle to address the spiritual needs of birthworkers within this circle.

Ready to find out more? Join us for a tele-gathering on May 20 at 8:00 Eastern/5:00 Pacific time and get your travel plans in order to join us this July!

To our highest healing and success!

Through Dragonfly Holistic, Marnie McKnight Favell works with women who are healing from trauma, abuse, and disorders. She specializes in serving women who are healing from birth trauma and postpartum issues so that they can be fully present for their children and partners as well as themselves, and to find freedom for their subsequent pregnancies. Marnie works locally in her Poughkeepsie and Rhinebeck offices in New York State, as well as nationally and internationally via Skype sessions. Find out more at www.dragonflyholistic.com.

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