Birth Trauma: Part 3 of 3

We now join Anne Marie McKinley (a Midwife and Birth Trauma Specialist at Afterthoughts NI) for the final part of this sub-series and take a look at various trauma therapies available to both mums and dads.


Which Therapeutic Approach?

When either parent attend counselling in pregnancy, or post birth, several pathways may open up. If a woman is searching for a therapist herself, there are a number of things that may not be immediately obvious.

Therapy or counselling is often known to first time seekers through TV or film representations of how therapy works, or through reports from friends and family. Entering the perinatal timescale may also be the only space in the next number of years where parents can freely allocate time to heal old emotional wounds, deal with anxiety or depression, and come to terms with the journey of birth which may, for them, have been less than they had hoped and dreamed. It can be hard to prioritise self-care later on when there are little ones around your feet. [Read more…]

Trauma: It does not occur in isolation to the community of a traumatised individual

We now take a break from Anne Marie McKinley’s (a Midwife and Birth Trauma Specialist at Afterthoughts NI) mini series (focusing on the various aspects of birth trauma) by delving into the whys and wherefores around history and developments in this sixth part.


In 1992, Judith Lewis Herman published her book Trauma and Recovery. “The conflict between the will to deny horrible events and the will to proclaim them aloud is the central dialectic of psychological trauma.” 1

I live in Northern Ireland, born in the South. In 1998, I was in Stormont, waiting with family and friends for the signing of The Belfast Agreement (also known as the Good Friday Agreement because it was reached on Good Friday, 10 April 1998) and I remember my 3-year-old daughter escaping under the barrier to greet the politicians. There were stark predictions, by academics after the agreement was signed, of concern for the mental health of the next generation in Northern Ireland. In 2016, The Mental Health Foundation reported that Northern Ireland had a 25% higher overall prevalence of mental health problems than England. Previous to this, in 2014/15, according to the Northern Ireland Health Survey, 19% of individuals showed signs of a possible mental health problem. More women (20%) than men (16%) reported signs of mental health problems.2 [Read more…]

Birth Trauma: Part 2 of 3

Friend, Flight, Fight, Freeze, Flop? Anne Marie McKinley (a Midwife and Birth Trauma Specialist at Afterthoughts NI) now takes us through the why and how in her fifth instalment in this series.


The Trauma Response and Childbirth

Bessel van der Kolk has spent over 30 years training psychotherapists to work with psychological trauma. Taken from the 28th Annual International Trauma Conference:

 

For almost three decades this conference has examined the evolving knowledge of how trauma affects psychological and biological developmental processes, and how the damage caused by trauma and neglect can be reversed. 1

 

We live in a world where teachers, more frequently, educate small children in the skills of mindfulness and self-regulation early in their little lives. However, many adults will often only find this need to engage in such activities when they are pregnant. [Read more…]

Birth Trauma: Part 1 of 3

The fourth from her series introducing us to maternal mental health, Anne Marie McKinley (a Midwife and Birth Trauma Specialist at Afterthoughts NI) focuses her next 3 parts on various aspects of trauma response in birthing.


Birth trauma is still represented as though it is a surprise in some parts of the world. Even with pain relief, and the intention towards active management of normality, women still develop PTSD in the postnatal period. These next three (4-6) contributions will focus on various aspects of the trauma response in birthing and suggest some very practical interventions which may assist in prevention or amelioration of symptoms.

[Read more…]

Happiness

In part three from her series introducing us to maternal mental health, Anne Marie McKinley (who is a Midwife and Birth Trauma Specialist at Afterthoughts NI) guides us through ‘happiness’ – some of the research done, how it affects our lives and how it can shape our future generations.


Happiness has been studied in many ways. One study which looked at the biological factors that influence happiness and health and concluded that both biological and health factors underlie happiness. Genetics play a role too, and have a clear and significant effect on happiness (Dfarhud et al., 2014). 1 Another study demonstrates that about 33% of the variation in human life satisfaction is explained by genetics (De Neve etal., 2012/2013). 2 [Read more…]

Creating the Biology of Courage

The second part from her series introducing us to maternal mental health, we welcome back Anne Marie McKinley who is a Midwife and Birth Trauma Specialist at Afterthoughts NI. Here, Anne Marie explains how pregnancy is an opportunity to influence the future mental health and wellbeing of baby before birth and shares simple strategies to build resilience and interestingly, how imagination and visualisation can be of benefit.


The influences of external and internal factors on the health of the developing fetus and a growing baby have been widely researched. The belief that investing in psychological support for women who have mental health diagnoses and who report symptoms of depression or anxiety in pregnancy has evolved. Midwives, on booking, are encouraging women to appropriate pathways when symptoms are revealed. The importance of self-regulation, supportive environments, GP input, and psychological care are more prominent now than at any other time in the history of maternity care. [Read more…]

Perinatal Mental Health

We are pleased to be sharing the first part in a series by Anne Marie McKinley on the theme of maternal mental health. Anne Marie is a Midwife and Birth Trauma Specialist at Afterthoughts NI who, over the coming weeks, will be introducing us to maternal mental health and its related aspects.


For every year of births, the estimate long term cost to society of Perinatal Mental Health in the UK is 8.1 billion pounds (Bauer, 2014). 1 This estimate is based on the costs of mental health care of women through pregnancy and beyond, and it follows the trajectory of the cost of health-related ‘quality of life losses’ over the lifetime of mothers and their children’. [Read more…]