Birth trauma shame

birth trauma birth trauma recovery birth trauma shame Nov 02, 2023

Shame is often experienced by parents who had a traumatic birth.

Shame arises out of a perception that we are wrong, unlovable, bad or unacceptable in some way. 

Sadly, it’s all to obvious why modern, medicalized birth is so often shaming of parents.

Experiencing birth as a series of interventions inflicted on to the vulnerable birthing body feels like a shaming abuse.  Too often the maternity system is telling parents ‘you’re unimportant, your body is defective, it is not fit for the purpose or birth, it has failed, you have failed.’

Of course, this feels very bad and shameful for parents who have spent 9 months growing, caring, nurturing and bonding with their precious babies.

Shame is different and more painful than guilt which exists to help us become aware of breaking our own moral code. 

Shame is a stickier, much edgier emotion than guilt and whilst we would do almost anything rather than admit our shame it still lives in the body and plays havoc with our autonomic nervous system.

Because shame feels so bad (it is linked to an acute fear of rejection) it activates our limbic system triggering anxiety or dissociation as a way of coping with this most terrible of threats (that of being disowned, caste out and abandoned).

Shame is so painful we would rather do anything than bring it into awareness, so we often hide it behind blame, anger and denial.

However, unless we can shine light on shame it will continue to live and breathe in the shadows, activating us whenever we feel ‘triggered’. 

Curiously as soon as shame is brought into the light and offer ourselves love, compassion and forgiveness it can dissipate. 

This is just one way that perinatal professionals can support traumatised parents to recover after a shaming birth experience.

If you would like to know more then join us on our next 1 day live training ‘Trauma Informed Listening for Perinatal Professionals’ on 12th December 9.30am – 4.30pm GMT.