“It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure. The very cave you are afraid to enter turns out to be the source of what you are looking for.” ~Joseph Campbell
For a new mother, emotional processing and integration of her birth story is just as VITAL to her emotional well-being, as is the healing and recovery of her physical body.
A new mother’s MENTAL and EMOTIONAL health is equally important…..if not more important, than her PHYSICAL health.
Yet, when a new mother tries to share a difficult moment of her birth experience with a friend or loved one, the listener’s response is often something along the lines of, “Well….at least you have a healthy baby.”
S T O P !
We’ve all said that….even I have said that….
But, let’s think about what this response is unconsciously implying.
Even though the listener’s intentions are never malicious, this response implies that the mother should be grateful her baby is alive and that she is selfish for thinking about herself, or selfish for being upset about how the birth unfolded.
As a culture, we have forgotten HOW to listen to birth stories.
Because we have not had good role models.
How is a new mother supposed to integrate and emotionally heal from her birth experience if her own mother, now a grandmother, has not yet healed the wounds of her own birth experience? Who was there to listen to her as she processed her birth decades ago?
The ability to sit with and listen to someone’s pain is a very feminine attribute (within all humans regardless of gender), but this feminine quality has been suppressed for hundreds, possibly thousands of years.
Where are the sage women to initiate us?
Where are the shaman women who know how to sit and listen to our pain, without trying to fix it for us? Where are the crone women who can listen to our stories and hold space for us as we heal ourselves? Where are the wise women to offer just the right questions, directing us to the center of the wound so we can extract the medicine?
It is rare to have a woman in your life who can do this for you. It is up to US to BECOME this for our daughters, sisters, mothers and friends. When we do the emotionally difficult work of healing our wounds, rather than stuffing them down, we become the wise elders for the next generation of women. We are the ones who have been through hard times, healed ourselves and we bring our unique medicine to the world. In doing so we transform our trauma into victory.
“To heal is to make whole again. A healer holds the vibration of wholeness and invites the other to see that too. To believe in that. To surrender to that. To choose that. Now more than ever we need more healers to rise up.” ~Rebecca Campbell, Rise Sister Rise
“Fate whispered to the warrior, “You cannot withstand the storm” and the warrior whispers back, “I am the storm.” ~unknown
Birth story healing sessions are for anyone who has given birth or witnessed a birth. Whether there was trauma or not, the integration is essential! Whether the baby is just 4 weeks old, or 40 years old…..it’s never too late to process the birth with a trained birth story listener. I would be honored to listen and support your healing process. Please fill out the contact form and I will respond within 48 hours with suggested dates and times for us to meet.
What is Birth Trauma?
My mentor, Pam England, explains birth trauma in this way: “Anyone who gives birth or witnesses a birth (birthing mother, father or attendant) can experience emotional birth trauma. They may feel deep sadness, regret, anger, shame, grief, blame, numbness or disappointment about events that happened surrounding the birth.”
While some people avoid thinking about certain parts of the birth, others mentally replay moments over and over again, wondering what could have been done differently. Many times mothers will try to heal by planning for a “re-do” birth with the next baby.
What is Birth Story Listening?
Gabrielle Roth says, “Turn your suffering into art. Turn your art into awareness. Turn your awareness into action.”
In a Birth Story Listening ™ session, we review the story in ways that are creative, fresh and insightful. Through compassionate listening, genuine validation and thoughtful questions, I help the storyteller navigate their way out of old, unhealthy thought-patterns (such as self-blame) and into deeper realizations about themselves in relation to their birth experience. Together, we literally turn suffering into art by exploring the birth story through process art, mythological storytelling, archetypes or dance. This, in turn, awakens new awareness for the storyteller. This awareness is often in the form of a new positive self-belief, which becomes action when the storyteller brings a greater sense of self-love back to her family.
Birth Story Listening ™ sessions are highly therapeutic, and effective, but they are not therapy. It’s more akin to going to your wise elder, sister, or grandmother in your village and seeking counsel.
“We cannot change what has passed. The story is at once in the past and alive in every breath of our being each day. When we change a belief about ourselves related to that old story, we begin to change our perceptions, behaviors and relationships; we change our future.” ~Pam England
What does a Birth Story Healing session include?
Birth Story Healing sessions typically last 2 hours. Through dialog and other creative processes, I guide you into reconstruction of how you perceive yourself as a birthing mother or father (or partner).
A birth story session is for anyone who has given birth, miscarried or aborted a baby. Whether your baby is 6 weeks or 30 years old, it’s never too late for a session. Birth Story Listening is also helpful for doulas, nurses, midwives, OBs or anyone who has witnessed a traumatic birth.
It is important that you leave your child(ren) with another parent or caregiver so that you can take this time to fully focus on your healing. Sessions take place at Yoga Jai Ma or my personal home art studio.
Podcasts on the topic:
Read an article Shelley wrote for Natural Baby Pros on Healing from Cesarean Birth
Shelley Rahim is a mother, daughter, wife, birth worker, artist, storyteller, bodyworker, modern mystic and guide and founder of Sacred Birth Journey. She lovingly serves women and families during the childbearing year, as well as supports the emotional, physical and sexual health throughout all phases of life.
Shelley provides a loving and non-judgmental space where women can let go of fear, shame, control, and inhibitions while embracing trust, vulnerability, body wisdom, wild-woman instinct and motherly love.
Serving San Diego women and families with a wide array of offerings. She holds weekly prenatal yoga classes, provides birth and postpartum doula services, teaches Birthing from Within workshops, as well as a variety of healing services and ceremonies.