Hi Emma! Thank you for sharing your inspirational and hopeful blog with us. We all change after becoming parents, quite drastically, but how do you feel that going through a traumatic birth changed you?
Going through a traumatic birth completely changed me. Physically it took along time to recover but mentally the recovery has taken much longer. I went from being a confident, out-going person to being a shadow of my former self. I was consumed with fear for my baby and myself and suffered very bad flash backs, panic attacks and anxiety. Often doing normal activities was exhausting and going out became scary and difficult. I suffered with guilt and felt that I was no good to my family just a burden. Somedays were very dark.
What kind of breastfeeding support was offered to you in NNU?
While I was in NNU I didn’t receive any breastfeeding support at all, in fact I had to fight to breastfeed my baby and I was told I would never achieve exclusive breastfeeding. But I proved them wrong and breastfed my daughter for 15 months.
How do you think that a breastfeeding peer support worker helps new parents? What kind of things does your work encompass?
I think that a breastfeeding peer support worker helps a family by giving information and support that enables them to make an informed choice regarding feeding their baby thats right for them. A lot of my role involves providing emotional support, giving reassurance and helping women trust in their bodies to nurture their babies. My role encompasses seeing new parents antenatally, on the postnatal wards in hospital and in the community for as long as they need support. I personally work mostly in NNU and then with the families when they are discharged home. I also run a support group where families can drop in for support or just a chat. Ive had the privilege of supporting families from those early stressful days in NNU to being happy healthy families. I really cant begin to say how much joy it brings me, I feel so lucky.
What advice would you give to the partners out there currently caring for a woman who has physically experienced a traumatic birth?
To partners that are caring for a woman who has suffered birth trauma my advice would be to acknowledge what has happened to her and her feelings around it. Encourage her to talk about her feelings if she is able to. Reassure her that you are there for her and that you will help in anyway you can. Encourage, commend show compassion and empathy. Emotional support is invaluable, even if it’s just a listening ear or a hug. Realise that there may be things or activities that she may not yet feel ready to do, be patient and show understanding. But most of all listen to her.
What does a postnatal doula do?
A postnatal doula supports families after the birth of their baby with emotional and practical support. We can help with light household duties, running errands and helping care for other children in the house. We can give support with breastfeeding, and build confidence in a woman’s ability to care for her newborn.
Do you have any words of wisdom for anyone out there who cannot yet “see the light”?
One of my favourite sayings is “I wish I could show you when your in darkness or feeling alone, the astonishing light of your own being”. When darkness is all around you and you feel like it will swallow you up believe that the light will return. Inside us is the strength to overcome even the most traumatic things. We often cannot see our own beauty or the light we bring to the lives of those we love. Hang in there and take each day, be kind and gentle to yourself and don’t expect to much of yourself. Better days will come honestly.
Thanks again Emma, your blog and honest words are sure to help many of our readers. If you would like to read more about Emma’s experiences, please visit her blog: http://www.lovingbaby.co.uk/