New Beginnings Doula Training

New Beginnings Doula Training
Courses for doulas and online childbirth education

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Denial-an important part of grief after a difficult birth

"Denial and shock help us to cope and make survival possible. Denial helps us to pace our feelings of grief. There is a grace in denial. It is nature’s way of letting in only as much as we can handle."

The loss of the expected birth plan, or feelings of being violated are often  a part of birth.  Most of the time, women will try and forget the experience they had or push it aside for awhile.  Sometimes this is done because women are not expected to grieve if their baby is born healthy and fine.  After a baby is born, women are expected to be happy, so often their feelings of loss are shoved to the side.

While I don't like how our culture is unaccepting of the feelings of loss after birth, I really like this quote that talks about why it's ok to go through this stage of grief.  Denial is a way for us to digest the loss a little bit at a time.  It allows women to adjust to being a mom before she has to deal with the loss.  Sometimes it takes a while to truly digest it.  That said, this is not a stage you should stay stuck in.  For those that may need more help, here's a great site:

"How can we confront denial in ourselves?
We can confront denial by:
* Asking ourselves honestly why we are in denial.
* Asking ourselves what are the benefits to be gained by our denial.
* Asking ourselves what is too painful to face.
* Recognizing when we are caught up in magical or fantasy thinking about our problem or loss.
* Recognizing the negative consequences that result from our denial behavior.
* Not allowing ourselves to fall back into a safe emotional zone, but to keep our emotional response open and honest.
* Recognizing when we are hiding behind a "nice" mask when discussing our loss or problems.
* Allowing ourselves to express negative or embarrassing emotions as we confront our problems (e.g., crying, feeling lost, feeling confused or feeling scared).
* Allowing ourselves to admit to being out of control.
* Trusting others to help us with our problem.
* Admitting our vulnerability and our need for assistance.
* Risking the loss of acceptance or approval by those who may be unable to handle our open, honest admission of our problem.
* Recognizing the negative behavior scripts that impede our ability to deal openly with problems.
* Recognizing that it is human to have problems and to experience loss; it is not a sign of our lack of value or worth.
* Refuting the irrational beliefs that block our acceptance of the loss or problems.
* Asking others to not allow us to deny or avoid the truth about our loss or problems.
* Recognizing that denial is a natural stage in the loss/grief response.
* Maintaining our sense of perspective, allowing ourselves to go through the problems as a growth experience.
* Believing that out of failure comes success; accepting the failure as a chance for personal growth.
* Accepting the help of others in the aftermath of our loss."

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Birth is a Journey: Does it have to be life changing?

  • One woman might have to climb on an overfilled boat, risking her life and nearly dying as she escapes over the ocean to come to this land. This experience could certainly be life altering. It may very well color the rest of her life, positively or negatively. (I overcame this amazing struggle and here I am triumphant! OR Holy crap, that was SO hard I don’t know if I can go on! By the way, neither response is “right”. No one would judge the woman with the 2nd response.)
  • One woman may buy an airplane ticket, sit on a comfortable 747 and fly to America with a nice smooth flight and landing. She is happy to be in America. Those welcoming her are glad she is here safe and sound. She may only travel by plane 2-4 times in her life, so it is pretty memorable. But the journey itself probably wouldn’t be life changing; it would simply be a journey.
  • One woman may learn to fly an ultra-light plane to lead a flock of geese into America teaching them to migrate. This experience could certainly be empowering and life altering.