April is Child and Adolescent month in ISSTD News and also coincides with Child Abuse Prevention Month in USA. As we consider this important month, I also think it is important to consider how pregnancy sets the foundations for a healthy mother child bond and how reducing pregnancy and birth trauma is an important part of protecting our children.
Standing up for the Voiceless
Buried, unresolved and untreated traumatic stress caused by childhood adversities often impacts women before their childrearing years with implications for their prenatal bonding, obstetric experience, and their ability to parent children post birthing. Women who have experienced childhood sexual abuse may find that trauma symptoms are activated during their pelvic examinations, prenatal care exams, labor, birth, and procedures that require them to remain motionless and in vulnerable positions. Waiting in a gown, on an exam table in a cold medical exam room, even without physical contact, may trigger re-experiencing of past traumatic incidents accompanied by freeze, fight or flight, collapse, or dissociative responses (Sperlich and Seng, 2008; Weitlauf et al., 2008). The mothers’ own developmental trauma and PTSD symptoms may be triggered during early postnatal interactions with their newborn (Fraiberg, 1980).
Childhood trauma prevention starts during prenatal care, that is when mothers are vulnerable, and their partners are receptive to both trauma informed interventions and prevention (Cortizo, 2021).
- Universal Prenatal ACE screening.
- In utero developmental guidance to enhance and promote the mother-womb baby™ bond, educate the parent in understanding fetal development, and assist the parents in doing their own healing before the child’s birthing. It also teaches new, nurturing, child rearing approaches that have been shown to facilitate optimal development in every stage of the baby’s existence (Cortizo, 2019).
- Early Prenatal trauma informed care (TIC) results in prenatal secondary and tertiary treatment for the parents, and primary prevention for the womb baby™ (Cortizo, 2020).
A pregnant woman is like a beautiful flowering tree, but take care when it comes time for the harvest that you do not shake or bruise the tree, for in doing so, you may harm both the tree and its fruit.” -Peter Jackson, R.N.
Una mujer embarazada es como un hermoso árbol floreado, pero tenga cuidado cuando llegue el momento de la cosecha de no agitar o magullar el árbol, ya que al hacerlo, puede dañar tanto al árbol como a su fruto.” -Peter Jackson, R.N.