Melbourne Doula

Welcome to 'Melbourne Doula', the place where I share what birth work is teaching is me, and what I am learning from the wonderful families who have invited me to share this most special season of their lives. Here you will find information about me and the doula services I provide, birth stories from remarkable women and their loved ones, as well as all kinds of resources to enrich your own journey of discovery. And welcome also to BLISSFUL HERBS, the home of beautiful herbal teas and bath herbs to support wellness through every season of life.

Healing after a Traumatic Birth

* After speaking with TABS in New Zealand, I realised that in Australia, we lack the routine 'Birth Review' that is offered to most women in New Zealand. I have put together this document, based on the Birth Review idea, so that women here may also have a tool to help them process and de-brief after the impactful experience of giving birth. I hope this tool may be useful to you and that you may feel free to use it, adapt it to your needs, and share it.

The Birth Review - a tool for de-briefing after childbirth

* Birthtalk is a Brisbane-based organisation to help women after a traumatic or disappointing birth experience. This is their blog:

* The Truth About Traumatic Birth - what you need to know on the healing journey.

* Here is a website by Jodi Kluchar that is full of useful links and information to support those who have experienced birth trauma.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after Childbirth

The Birth Trauma Association - UK

The Emotional Impact of Ceasareans - in this article, Pam Udy, a mother who experienced two cesareans followed by three vaginal births, blasts apart the patronising 'at least you have a healthy baby' fob-off; and discusses the very real impact of coercive obstetric practices on mothers and fathers.
Udy writes, "to control and actively manage a woman‘s labor and delivery, modern obstetrical practice relies on conformity. A woman is “subject” to rules, restrictions and protocols enforced by nameless strangers. Physicians and the hospital staff have authority—there is an unbalance of power. Doctors know this and some use their power to persuade women to “make” decisions in the interests of the physicians ...
"I say: You can only consent to that which you are capable of refusing. If you can't refuse the test, the drug, the procedure or the surgery, then you did not consent to it. This is coercion and it leads to disempowerment of women ... This is detrimental to the growth a woman should experience during labor and birth."

One in Three Women Infertile After Ceasarean - Even More Too Traumatised to Give Birth Again

How Childbirth Caused My PTSD

I thought the diagnosis was for war veterans, not new mothers. Then I had a baby.

... Twenty-four hours later, clear-headed but still not dilated, I told my doctor I didn't believe the induction was working, that I wanted to discuss other options. But before I knew it, he began painfully separating the membrane guarding my bag of waters.

"He isn't examining me," I yelled at my husband. "He's doing something."

In a hushed tone, the doctor asked the nurse for the hook, a tool that breaks your water.

"Why did you do that?" I asked when it was done. "I thought we were going to talk about it!"

His voice was cold, flat. "You're not going anywhere," he said.

My C-section came 30 hours after admission. It was a middle-of-the-night affair: a chilly operating room, an oily anesthesiologist, a clock on the wall that would not tell me when this would be over. I didn't think I would make it out of that hospital alive.

Not A Happy Birth Day

Threatened, intimidated, bullied, violated: this is hospital birth as many mothers experience it. Amity Reed reports on the little-recognised crime of birth rape.

Abuse in Hospital-based Birth Settings
by Susan Hodges, MS
Are laboring and birthing women treated abusively in the hospital? Although seldom recognized as abuse or violence against women, bullying and medical treatments under false pretenses, even in a hospital,
constitute abuse and a basic human rights issue that needs attention. Naming the problem is a first step. The power of medical authority, the lack of accountability in the hospital hierarchical system, policies and protocols, and expectations of compliancy all make an environment ripe for abuse and present obstacles for both women and staff to recognize or stop abuse. Learning to recognize abuse and take effective action, and understanding the legal requirements for ‘‘informed consent’’ can help, but ending abuse will require systemic change.    

In this video lecture, "Why Dads Leave", John Travis makes the connection between technocratic birth practices and the breakdown of empathy and attachment in society, leading to high rates of violence and relationship breakdown. This is one more piece of the puzzle - when women strive for gentle and respectiful treatment during birth, they are not only seeking it for the good of themselves, their babies and their families - on some level, they *know* it is for the good of society and that birth trauma has exponential effects.

TABS diagnostic tool for PTSD

These symptoms should alert you to possible PTSD:

  • Experienced an event perceived by the person experiencing it as traumatic
  • Flashbacks of the event, vivid & sudden memories
  • Nightmares of the event
  • Inability to recall an important aspect of the event - psychogenic amnesia
  • Exaggerated startle response, constantly living on edge
  • Hyper-arousal, always on guard
  • Hyper-vigilant, constantly looking around for trouble or stressors
  • Avoidance of all reminders of the traumatic event
  • Intense psychological stress at exposure to events that resemble the traumatic event
  • Physiological reactivity on exposure to events resembling the traumatic event- panic attacks, sweating, palpitations
  • Fantasies of retaliation
  • Cynicism and distrust of authority figures and public institutions
  • Hypersensitivity to injustice

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