Are You a New Parent Struggling With the After-Effects of Trauma?
Is pregnancy, memories from your birth experience or caring for your newborn causing distressing changes and sensations in your body that remind you of a traumatic event or events from your past? Are you experiencing nightmares, intrusive flashbacks or disturbing memories that make you feel frightened, on-edge and unsafe? Perhaps these flashbacks are triggered by particular situations related to conception, pregnancy or childcare, such as prenatal checkups, gynecological exams or breastfeeding. It may be that pregnancy hormones have heightened your senses, intensified your emotions and made nightmares more frequent and vivid, and now coping tools that have worked in the past no longer seem helpful.
Did you suffer from trauma during pregnancy or have a traumatic birth experience? Maybe the physical, emotional and mental pain still feels fresh, and you are struggling to engage with your child and enjoy new parenthood because it feels like danger is still present. You might obsessively worry that your baby is sick or will become sick. It may be that you are physically healing from birth, a C-section or another procedure and your body is a daily reminder of what you and your child went through. Certain sights, sounds, smells or other sensations might trigger a sense of repulsion, powerlessness and distress, making it difficult to meet all of your baby’s needs, let alone your own. Perhaps it feels like there is no time or space for you to heal. Alternately, if you watched your partner go through a traumatic pregnancy or birth, you may fear for the safety and wellbeing of your family and struggle with intrusive memories of your own.
Is preparing for parenthood or recently becoming a parent bringing up old memories of past child abuse or neglect? Do you worry that you will repeat a legacy of abuse and trauma with your own children? Long-buried feelings of shame, fear, guilt and isolation may be resurfacing, and now you worry about the challenges of parenting after abuse. You might be afraid that you will hurt your baby because you don’t know what healthy parenting looks like.
Regardless of how trauma is impacting your experience as a new parent, do you wish you could feel safe, resolve old and/or recent wounds and enter parenthood with a sense of relief, security and confidence?
Many People Struggle With the Challenges of Parenting After Trauma
If trauma is impacting your pregnancy, parenting or life in general, you are not alone. 70 percent of American adults report experiencing some type of trauma at least once in their lives. 60 percent of adults experienced abuse, neglect or other trauma during childhood. And, up to 34 percent of mothers report a traumatic birth experience in which there was a significant threat to the mother or child’s emotional and physical wellbeing.
Trauma results from situations that are or feel life threatening, such as a car accident, assault, surgery, natural disaster or physical abuse. Complex trauma occurs when the threat, danger or source of pain is ongoing, as in cases of child abuse or neglect. Because trauma is held in the body, if left untreated, it can remain stuck in the body for years or even decades. When threatened, your body and brain go into protection mode, sending your whole system into fight, flight or freeze. Trauma results when your mind and body are unable to understand that the threat has passed. You may be in a state of hypervigilance, constantly prepared to fight, flee or freeze again. And, even if you thought the traumatic event was long forgotten, the stress, unpredictability and physical experience of pregnancy, birth and new parenthood frequently can create distressing sensations and cause memories to come flooding back.
Regardless of the source, severity or traumatic experience, there is hope for lasting healing and relief. With the help of a skilled trauma therapist who specializes in parenting after trauma, you can calm distressing thoughts, feelings and sensations, develop greater resiliency and find joy in your parenting journey.
Trauma Therapy for New Parents Can Help You Feel Free and at Ease
It is possible for you to find relief from the nightmares, flashbacks and sensations causing you pain. My office is a safe, compassionate space for you to resolve the traumas of the past. I offer accepting, patient and nonjudgmental support and guidance, and I will never push you to talk about or try anything that you aren’t ready for. In fact, you never have to share certain details with me if you don’t want to. In my practice, I utilize empirically proven and highly effective approaches to trauma therapy, and I will work with you to find the approach that best fits your symptoms, experience, personality, needs and therapy goals.
As we begin our work together, we can draw on Somatic Experiencing techniques to help you feel grounded in your body and build the resources needed to feel safe and secure in my office and in your everyday life. Using the Trauma Resiliency Model, you can learn how trauma functions in the body, as well as tools to restore balance to your whole self—mind, body and spirit. Throughout sessions, we will work together to regulate your nervous system so that you no longer feel on-edge or apprehensive as you go about your day. You can feel empowered to identify and respond to triggers rather than react to them, diminishing their power over your emotions and life as a whole. I am also trained in EMDR therapy (Eye Movement Rapid Desensitization), a powerful approach that can help you resolve past trauma without fully re-experiencing it. All of these approaches work with the body, helping you dislodge the trauma lingering in your nervous system so that you can navigate the challenges of pregnancy and parenthood with greater ease.
I am also trained in mindfulness, calming techniques and a variety of other skills to help you feel equipped to parent with confidence and peace. From both personal and professional experience, I know what it’s like to navigate raising a newborn after a difficult birth. In fact, I found healing from EMDR therapy, and I practice Somatic Experiencing, and TRM techniques as a daily form of self-care. Please know that regardless of what you’re feeling or experiencing, you are not damaged or broken, and you don’t have to suffer in silence. Whether you are healing from birth trauma, pregnancy trauma or a personal trauma from your past, you and your child can move into a brighter future.
You may have questions or concerns about working with a trauma therapist…
I don’t want to talk about my childhood.
I utilize techniques that don’t require you to share all of the details from the past. And, I will never push you to talk about anything that you don’t want to talk about until you are ready. You can go at you own pace and share whatever you’d like, without any fear of judgment. I can also draw on my experience working at an early childhood parenting center to help you recognize patterns, shift your perspective and learn new, effective skills for parenting after abuse.
I’ve tried talk therapy before, and it didn’t work.
While talk therapy can be an effective part of trauma treatment, studies show that it is not the most effective way to treat trauma. The modalities I use are proven to be extremely effective. In some cases, they can even provide relief in just a few sessions. If you have only tried talk therapy in the past, EMDR, or the Trauma Resiliency Model could offer you a sense of relief and resolution you never thought possible.
What I went through wasn’t that bad. I’m not sure I need trauma therapy.
Traumatic experiences come in all shapes and sizes, from an emergency birth procedure to unwelcome belly touches to watching your partner in intense pain. Even if you can’t pinpoint one specific frightening event, if you feel unsafe in your body, distrustful of the world and those in it, hyper-alert to potential threats and exhausted by uncomfortable, anxious thoughts and emotions, trauma therapy can help you.
If you are looking for help in Los Angeles, CA, I invite you to call me in at 323-539-7717 for a free, 15-minute phone consultation. You can ask any questions you have about my practice and healing from birth trauma, pregnancy trauma or personal trauma.
For more on trauma, visit my Trauma Therapy page.