Why postnatal depression could be masking a deeper problem?
These photos were taken 10 years apart. The one on the left was shortly after a highly stressful, emergency Caesarean delivery with our third child. By the time he was born three weeks early in a botched procedure and requiring critical care, I’d already experienced two consecutive traumatic births.
Each forced me into a deeper pit of depression, unable to emotionally connect as I increasingly shut down. The bliss of intuitively falling into motherhood and bonding with my babies effortlessly, was stolen away by a dark cloud of despair.
My firstborn didn’t sleep for more than one or two hours at a time and woke to a pin drop. Because I was so disconnected, instead of following my intuition to meet her needs, I listened to shitty advice (well meaning, but shitty nonetheless). Things got increasingly difficult, and she experienced the most extreme moments of my mental and emotional dysfunction. I continue to support her journey as a teenager today, as she processes through her early years of life in whatever way she needs to. To be okay.
It’s tricky as a parent not to try to ‘fix it’ for her. But I know she has her own soul’s contract to fulfil around our shared intergenerational story. Just as I did. And my mother before me. I trust too, in the awareness gained from my own deeper healing journey, that we are beginning to break the cycle for the women in our lineage now. Together. Mind you, it got a whole lot worse before it started to get better. By the time I was diagnosed with complex PTSD from childhood, and discovered the liberation of undertaking deeper shadow work to process through unresolved trauma trapped in the mind and body, I was chronically ill and in debilitating pain 24/7.
Then came the postnatal depression, for which I was subsequently medicated over three years. And eventually my digestion gave out, as often happens when you spend much of your life in a state of fight or flight… and dismiss it as ‘just stress’.
About two years after that photo was taken, I started to lose weight. I couldn’t eat without feeling nauseous. And as the security of that extra protective barrier I’d built (because I was shithouse at boundaries! And when you don’t build boundaries, you have to build walls!), melted away; my trauma-related symptoms became progressively worse.
Chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and carer burnout threatened to send me into a complete mental, physical and emotional breakdown; not really a viable option with three children under seven years old to homeschool, and a partner struggling with his own, work-related PTSD. I’ve come to learn, after uncovering my soul’s path as a trans-generational trauma specialist, that my postnatal depression symptoms were a manifestation of my own unresolved past stories and womb wound.
As were the difficult births of our children, stemming all the way back to my OWN dramatic entry into the world.
Birth trauma is dreadfully misunderstood in our society. Even the statistics are misleading, with less than one in three women reporting a traumatic birth experience of some kind.
In my observation and experience, the impact of birth trauma is grossly underestimated in western society with regard to both prevalence, and the long-term ramifications on people’s lives.
There seems an undeniable link between birth trauma (our own and our children’s!) and postnatal depression, as well as other complications that many women and children subsequently experience, including: • Attachment and bonding issues • Feeding issues • Sleep issues • Disease and chronic illness • Immune and nervous system dysfunction; not to mention emotionally dysfunctional patterns of abandonment, rejection, self-sabotage, abuse and addiction.
I’ve worked with dozens of women, where stories of birth trauma were still impacting and influencing their lives…some 40-plus years later!
STARR Collective aims to facilitate results-oriented dialogue around birth trauma, generating much needed solutions that better support women in their journey of motherhood; because positive progress in this regard could literally change the story for entire generations to come!
If you feel you’ve been impacted by birth trauma – either as a baby yourself, or delivering your own child/ren – visit www.starrcollective.com to connect with one of our specialist team and discover the various pathways of deeper, inter-generational trauma healing we offer. Because mums need support too!
Bron Lea is a Complex Trauma Specialist, Soul Alchemist and Founder and Creator of STARR Collective Institute of Healing®️ and STARR Method™️. www.starrcollective.com