In this episode, we are diving back into the topic of birth trauma. And this is something that we have revisited over and over throughout the podcast, because this issue is growing. These statistics around birth trauma, they are only worsening and this is something that needs to be addressed by so many different angles.
We have a new perspective to share with you today as Teela Tomassetti of The Tea on Birth Trauma joins us to talk through why she has devoted her advocacy as a therapist to uncovering the truth about birth trauma and sharing it with folks as they understand it more.
We are diving into some of the newest research data that's come out around birth trauma trends that we have seen. How has birth and our experience and the way we speak about trauma changed over the last three decades? And over the last three years? What are some surprising ways that birth trauma shows up in folks lives? How does it impact their physical health, their mental and emotional wellbeing? How does it show up in relationships with our partners and our support people. And how do we kind of push back against some of the preconceived notions we have about trauma? How do we get folks to tune into this issue and think about it through a new lens.
I am so excited to share this with you as you all work to reshape and grow our understanding around trauma and the way that you can support people.
Join us to explore more:
~The role of community in processing trauma
~Current statistics and trends in birth trauma
~Power & pitfalls of social media for addressing trauma
~Intergenerational shifts around language
~Systems actions to change & improve the care landscape
~Surprising trauma triggers
Learn more and connect with Teela in her guest profile.
Maggie, RNC-OB 0:03
Welcome to your birth partners, the podcast identifying gaps, acknowledging biases, and co-creating a trauma informed standard of birth care with change agents across the spectrum of birth work. I'm your host, Maggie Runyon. I'm a birth nurse, educator and advocate who has been searching since 2010. The answers to how to provide better care during pregnancy, birth and postpartum. Through my own pregnancies and supporting births in home and hospitals around the country. I've seen firsthand many the systemic flaws that exist in perinatal care. Through these conversations, I'm thrilled to share with you insights and inspiration as we work collectively to transform birth care.
Welcome back to the podcast. In this episode, we are diving back into the topic of birth trauma. This is something that we have revisited over and over throughout the podcast because it is growing this issue that we have seen where folks experience trauma in their birth, these statistics, they are only worsening. And this is something that needs to be addressed by so so so many different angles. And so we have a new perspective to share with you today, as Teela joins us to talk through why she has devoted her advocacy as a therapist to uncovering the truth about birth trauma, and sharing it with folks that they understand it more diving into some of the news research data that's come out around birth trauma trends that we have seen, how was birth and our experience and the way we speak about trauma changed over the last three decades and over the last three years. What are some of the surprising ways that birth trauma shows up in folks lives? You know, how does it impact their physical health, their mental and emotional well being? How does it show up in their relationships with our partners and our support people? And how do we kind of push back against some of the preconceived notions we have about trauma? How do we get folks to tune into this issue and think about it through a new lens, I am so excited to share this with you, as you all work to, you know, reshape and grow your understanding around trauma and the way that you can support people and yourself as we work through it onto the show.
Teela, it's just so wonderful sharing space with you, I have loved following your work on Instagram and just seeing all that you are doing to advocate for a greater understanding and acceptance around folks who have experienced birth trauma. So I'm just so excited to have you on to share with us if you want to just give our listeners a little bit more of a kind of overview of who you are, how you kind of came to this work and what you're doing.
Teela, Therapist 2:37
Yeah, absolutely. And maybe thank you again for inviting me on. I absolutely love your Instagram page. And the people you've had on have been really inspirational in terms of what they offer the committee.
Maggie, RNC-OB 2:47
So thank you. We've been so blessed with wonderful guests,
Teela, Therapist 2:52
My name is Teela Tomasetti. And I'm a psychologist here in Alberta, Canada, I have been working now specifically specializing in trauma for 17 years. And I have switched gears the last couple of years to work with perinatal psychology. So that's anywhere from miscarriages to infertility to postpartum depression and anxiety and to birth trauma, which holds a special place in my heart, both in terms of the doctorate that I'm doing, which will focus on it, and also in my personal life. Yeah,
Maggie, RNC-OB 3:22
thank you. I you know, I wonder I love your your Instagram handle the you know, The Tea on birth trauma. So maybe we just want to kind of start there by sharing a little bit about, you know, why is that where you found so much of your advocacy kind of go and why is there so much proverbial tea to spill?
Unknown Speaker 3:38
Yeah, so initially, when I started at the tea, I was postpartum and I had suffered my own birth trauma by way of midwifery violence, and excessive postpartum hemorrhage. And then six weeks postpartum, I would suffer a routine placenta, and therefore another postpartum hemorrhage. And so I hear that it's quite the story we won't get into today, because we don't have time that it's part of the the inspiration behind doing at the tea, I was just sitting there postpartum, with my daughter in my arms and just thought to myself, I really don't want people to feel alone. And I want them to have a sense of community to go to to spill the tea. And what we mean by that slang, in the community, in the black community, which is to tell the truth about something, the honest to god raw truth. And so I just wanted my cage to represent that. And so yeah, the initial kind of inspiration behind that was my own postpartum. But then when I got online, and started to see followers experiences and their stories, I was really struck by the limited space that is offered for them to take up in this world to speech is such an issue that affects so many people. And so when I began to kind of dig into the different like research, which led to a bunch of themes, I was like, Okay, this is what I want my page to talk about is the research that exists and like the truths that are out there about this because there's so much information, unfortunately on Instagram, and Facebook and Tik Tok. And so I just wanted a trusted information source that people can go to and tell their stories.
Maggie, RNC-OB 5:17
Oh, gosh, yeah, I, you know, it's come up a lot in the podcast, like there is so much power within social media to do good or to not. And it can be really hard for folks, especially in that early postpartum period, they're trying to like, sort through all of this information, everything's coming out them. And there are a lot of, you know, Instagram experts out there, who really don't know what they're talking about, and can really end up just being so invalidating and really shutting people down. And I am so grateful for your work to kind of have a place that shares that pieces of it that really speaks to folks lived experiences, and then also kind of pulls in bigger studies that kind of give us a broader look at overall what people are experiencing, because I think both are really valid for growing understanding.
Unknown Speaker 5:59
Thank you for that, Maggie. And regards to why is there so much spokes tea, or like the tea to spill, I should say, is because it's like the endless list that exists in terms of causes, like I just did a recent post about it, there's over 30 causes, which you know, like a lot of your listeners are aware of, in terms of like that, that list is moving along. And so as the long term impacts, and then kind of the domino effects that really like engulfs, like specific aspects of the survivors life. And so it's so much more than just that moment of birth, there's just a cascade of things that takes place for them. So that's why there's so much to talk about, too, is because there's so many different moving parts to this, and factors at work.
Maggie, RNC-OB 6:42
Yeah, yeah. And that's why I was excited to have you on to kind of dig into a little bit more of that, because I think we've talked about birth trauma several times on the podcast over the last couple seasons, because, because it is big, because it is a topic that deserves multiple times that we go back in, and we look at it from a different lens, and we examine all these pieces of it. You know, I feel like one of the comments on that recent post you had shared, that you then highlighted, I don't know, if you're comfortable sharing a little bit about that, you know, they were kind of calling out the, well, if we talk about all of these things that are that are going on, isn't that fear mongering or, you know, making it harder. And I feel like that's a, an issue we have, I think on the professional side in terms of how we truthfully address what is going on and prepare for for the reality without being dismissive.
Unknown Speaker 7:26
Yeah, I'm still feeling a bit tender from that. So I'll do my best to speak to it. Because it's, you know, only been 24 hours since that message came through my inbox. And it's not the first time I've received things like that. And I think it's just that people feel very uncomfortable with the truth of birth trauma and the reality that exists. And I think that kind of comes back to a lot of like gender norms and stereotypes and expectations of this role that we call mother. And I put it like that, because, you know, I'm also thinking of the queer community. And that may not be, you know, language that they connect to, but it's the one that a lot of different communities do. And so when we think about that role, and the expectations that surround it, and the stereotypes, I think people are uncomfortable, that somebody might view that as, like, a really difficult experience for them, and one that left them not feeling at all the same. And so I think when I get messages like that, I just really offer compassion towards those people, because they've kind of been brainwashed, like a lot of us have in society regards to how we view birds. And and so I just am very gentle with them and take a loving approach to explain to them that this may not your reality, and I'm so grateful that it's not, but it's the reality of 1000s and 1000s of women. And yeah, so still feeling tender about it today, I could like even like to feel it kind of bubbling in my stomach as I talk about it. But I thought it was finally time for me to show my followers what sometimes I get messaged about, and I'm not the only one in the community, so many of us get these messages and have to kind of defend the work that we're doing and defend the cause that we're trying to support.
Maggie, RNC-OB 9:06
Well, thank you for sharing it with with us here and kind of talking to some about vulnerability and sharing anything because I do think it's important for folks to understand kind of, to understand the other side to get a sense of what is what folks in the community are going up against. Because the people who are responding back to you, they're the people who maybe are in their "loved ones," they're the people who should be showing up for them. And instead, they're kind of hitting them back with that. And, you know, the people who are freshly dealing with trauma might not have the resources to lovingly hold people in that space and nor should they have to. And so I think it's, it's necessary to like know that that's what's going on and to have some context for how we, how we hold those dualities of like, yes, you're a new parent and you might absolutely adore your baby. And also, concurrently these things do not go you know, they're not mutually exclusive. You can absolutely be so thrilled to be a parent to love your infant and And to also be suffering from trauma and having a really, really difficult time with that transition. And that that doesn't negate the power of you know, of any of those experiences.
Teela, Therapist 10:09
Know, when we talk so much in the community about that dichotomy, because within that dichotomy, I think so much shame and guilt is colored by it. And so people don't want to talk about it, it's like, just because you hated your birth experience doesn't mean that you hate your baby. And you can append hold these feelings together, they don't have to cancel one another out. So it's something I see often in my therapy room with, with the survivors that I support.
Maggie, RNC-OB 10:37
So switching tactics a little bit, I wonder, maybe see if there's some, you know, recent statistics you want to share with us, I think we talk a lot about, you know, we've all heard the one and three, or I think people tend to, you know, identify their birth as traumatic, which is always really just, it's crushing to think that that how many millions of people that are impacted by that, and wondering if there is a piece of how we talk about trauma, and maybe that has changed over the last several decades. And then also thinking about the trauma, and maybe the shifts and experiences have happened over the last couple of years.
Unknown Speaker 11:05
Yeah, to circle back to, I just want to touch on the one and three, because that member isn't as accurate as we think it is anymore. Most of the research to date, and especially the last five to 10 years are showing upwards of 45%. So that one in three is a little bit low, actually, in the research that exists. So I'm starting to say to people more so that it's around 45%, is what we're looking at. But one of the statistics, I think, that I really wanted to talk about today was in regards to women of color, and in particular Black women and Indigenous women, and how, you know, they are four times more likely to die from pregnancy related complications. And that is some of the research that I'm starting to see the last couple of years is geared towards that. So it's very much taking that racial discourse and feminist perspective theory, and starting to call out the systems that exist, that are oppressing these communities. And that are literally resulting in people dying as a result. And so I'm grateful, like at the research that I am seeing, as I'm going through it saying, you know, this is this is not okay, like what can we do to change the situation, what needs to be done, so that these mother's lives are not taken. So that is something that I'm seeing in terms of recent research. You know, when we think back to like, 30 years ago, I was looking at this, and their birth trauma was not talked about. So actually, the term birth trauma, when you started to look into the research of this, if you put in like 1990 birth trauma actually meant birth injuries back then. So it wasn't even about the birthers experience. And in these traumatic symptoms, it was more people like Cheryl Beck is a phenomenal researcher who came into the gates and started to really shed a lot of light on this. And so that's when we started to change our language, you know, from from birth trauma in that regard to birth injuries, and then birth trauma as like that postpartum post traumatic stress disorder. And so it's neat to think about how like, yeah, just 30 years ago, this wasn't even a topic of conversation. Yet, it's, I'm sure it's been happening for, I want to say centuries, like, I don't really live, this is new, I think that we've been dealing with this for a really long time. And then the other piece of research that for me is is very much speaking to not only my own experience, but what I'm seeing from the followers on my page, and is also kind of driving my doctoral project at this point, too, is the stat of around 66% of birth trauma survivors say that at the very root of their experience was how they were treated by a provider. And so that is like, for me, the beginning of creating at the Tea on birth trauma is where my passion beginning like began to ignite the fire was a nice started because I was like, if there are aspects of this that can be prevented, I want to be a part of that I want to be behind the scenes doing what I can with my research, and ensuring that the parts that we can prevent actually take place. And so that statistic when I read it, just it floored me. And and then you know, building these relationships with my followers that I have, and then sharing the stories that statistics it rings true with their experience. So it's not just a one off from these research articles. It's I'm hearing it from the voices of my followers too.
Maggie, RNC-OB 14:30
Oh, yeah, I do. I think like pulling two threads on that. I think the one piece of that just how we're using more accurate language to explain people's experiences. Like you said, I think the fact that I asked that question because I know when I had talked to my own mother about trauma and I, you know, share about my work over the dinner table. You know, she was she was shocked like she couldn't believe like really like that that many people are experiencing this. And you know, she still just felt like oh, like, I just I don't think that was like a, I don't think that was a thing as much when you know, whatever. And I was like, Oh, well, like, also glad you didn't have and interestingly, knowing my mom's experience, I'm like, Well, part of how you have shared about your story actually, like those. Maybe were a little bit traumatic. But also, okay, I'm glad you're not feeling that way about it. But I'm wondering too, about just how we, you know, we're giving that power to to language people to understand their experiences, and then how that juxtaposes when would when they tried to talk to their support people about it when they tried to talk to folks in their family, loved ones who've had babies before, and they're trying to relate about like, this is so hard because I experienced this, how it feels if they're older or like, I don't know what you're talking about, like they just genuinely, not from a lack of empathy or love. They're just like, I don't understand that we didn't have that language to talk about when I was having my babies.
Teela, Therapist 15:52
No, definitely like, we're a generation that is so vocal about trauma. And I think it's incredible, because not only is it giving people the space to talk about it, but it's giving us more room to properly heal from this. And you know, those intergenerational trauma lines, I think, are gonna start to be broken with this generation. I really do I have faith in us through these conversations and the power of story that we can do that. And so it makes sense to me that your mom has that reaction that she's just like, Wait, what are you talking about with this thing, because it was something that was just so normalized, it was a part of the birthers experience, not something that they questioned. And we're questioning anything that's a little bit more now. And again, giving voice to the different pain that exists within birth trauma?
Maggie, RNC-OB 16:36
Yeah, so good. And I think the other piece of it, and I know, this is always hard when I you know, have these conversations with other folks, especially hospital based work professionals, nurses, doctors, midwives, it's crushing to realize that so many people are experiencing traumatic birth. And, you know, so if it's one in two, one in three folks, somewhere in between that 45%. And then realizing that like, oh, gosh, and two thirds of that are because of things that we the things that we can control. So we've talked a lot about absolutely not everything life can be controlled, there are plenty of things that are beyond everyone's best intentions and actions. However, there is so much of this that is in our hands. And I think there is then this like, I think that's really heavy for a lot of folks to like take in and believe. And so I think then there's some resistance, you know, around that if folks think that, you know, the care that we provide is like this is routine to me, this is regular I was I was being nice, I did everything I'm supposed to do. Realizing that that's just not enough, the way we've learned to provide care, the way we are currently providing care, like the standard is not it's not adequate is in fact, harming people. It's like a really hard thing to take, hear and accept.
Unknown Speaker 17:44
Yeah, and you know, and I think I've worked with vicarious trauma a lot over the years. And so I work a lot with nurses I have yes, there's so many of you wonderful humans on my caseload. And when I think of the challenges that exists with providers, I think about it at a macro level, I really do. So when what you're kind of speaking to is the micro level in terms of like, as the you know, as the nurse as the doctor being a participant within that birth trauma. But where I really truly want to focus on in my research, and in my career moving forward is the macro level, so is the systems that exist around that have encouraged nurses and doctors to do their jobs and specific way that is resulting in this. So like, I want the responsibility to go beyond the nurse and the doctor and to the people who are making the policies and procedures and trainings and educations. And see like how can we do this better? How can we improve? Because, yeah, as you described, just now it's trickling down to you guys. And it's like, but this is how we were taught this, this is how you were explained to you in your role. And so to me, I want to take some of that sense of responsibility off your guys's shoulder to sing like, okay, like the people higher above can be doing better. And so that's again, where my focus lies. Like, I had an incredible doctor, you know, I always love to shout out Dr. Billy long on every single podcast I'm on because he saved my life. He was incredible. He knew consent, he knew how to explain it was very gentle and loving. I credit a nurse all of the time from Royal Alex for saving parts of me that first week into my postpartum. So I had a beautiful experience with my providers. So isn't it interesting, right? Because, like, you know, here I am, again, focusing my project on this and also hearing stories from followers. And my experience was different. And that's how, you know, I point out to people that here I am is an example of somebody who had a good experience and can still see the flip side that exists within that. And that again, is how we move things in birth trauma, and see something different is when we're able to see the big picture, and not just our own specific viewpoint or story within it.
Maggie, RNC-OB 20:00
Yeah, yeah. Oh, that's so good. Obviously this whole season, you know, we're really talking about change agents. And we started out with, you know, Claire Phillips talking about systems change. That's kind of like the opener for this. Because in all these conversations we do, it's easy and human to focus on like that, that micro level that we all feel, but how powerful it is, when we're taking that able to expand that view, thinking of those systems that are in place. And, and I think that's necessary for like our healing and coping with all of this, and also how we ultimately change what you know, what is happening, like each of us who make these changes in our personal practice absolutely matter. And like you said, they impact people, you know, so for everyone listening, it's not that it's not that those individual choices you're making don't matter, they absolutely do. But also thinking about how do we bring us to that to that next stage? How do we make it so that this is not something that people have to individually seek out additional trainings? How do I do this better? This is something that is just the standard. We've talked a lot in the Trauma Informed Birth Nurse program that I do with Paula Richards and Mandy Irby about how how we do this with nurses, and how we change our standard from this like standard of helping, where we're kind of like, hey, yeah, I'm here to like, share my wisdom and help you along. But also, that means I'm really helping like, the policies and this idea of what this was look like instead to this like standard, like trauma informed advocacy, where we're assuming every person deserves trauma informed care, every time and we're preparing healthcare workers to like step into an advocacy role. Instead of like this the way I think we should do it to like, Okay, here's all the things we could do, how do you want to do this, and then supporting people on that, so that we're not being complicit in this thing? And so I think listening to you folks, like we hear that so much from folks is just that, like, the secondary trauma for sure. We see really high levels of secondary trauma stress, and the folks who have taken our courses so far, but how we kind of like move that feeling that awareness as always into like action, like, okay, yes, we can be aware of this. And then we don't have to, like, dwell or get stuck in it. I guess more than anything, we're going to get stuck in there. How do we move forward to make change?
Teela, Therapist 21:52
Definitely. And I think we need to revamp trauma informed care, because it's become a buzzword, I'm really struggling with it over the years as a, as a trauma therapist, because I'm seeing it being used as a way to like highlight programs or highlight specific, you know, organizations or whatever. And but I'm not seeing it actually take place. So like, I really want to challenge those systems to be like, Okay, you're saying you're using trauma informed care? I'd like the evidence of how that showing up. Like, I'm Yeah, I want something backed by that. And so I think we know, not only need to revamp it, but also like, watch, like how we're using it and be able to show that we're actually using it to
Maggie, RNC-OB 22:32
Yes, yeah, it's more than just just saying that you're "trauma-informed" And we've seen that in a lot. And we've had there's been there's a push on some of like, the regulatory bodies and stuff that they're looking for, like trauma informed. That has to be the thing, but yeah, it's more than like the whatever Healthstream training that just pops like a trauma informed in front of any topic, and says like, yep, check, we've we've done it, it's hard to make those changes. But there's a lot of awesome people out there, like yourself, who are really embedded in doing this work and creating systems where people can actually do that. And there is accountability. Yes. For what that means that we see transformation.
Teela, Therapist 23:05
Yeah. And then it takes a lot more than just one training to get a whole bunch of follow up in regards to like, how are you utilizing those skills that you just learned, and repeated trainings around that? Because, you know, I've spent 17 years as a trauma therapist, if I had only relied on just one training to to color my world, I would not be doing a very good job today. So is that repeated uptake as well? For that trauma informed care? Yeah.
Maggie, RNC-OB 23:30
Yeah. So much, I think especially because this is something that is not standard in their saying medical midwifery education, for the most part, that is that it's an unlearning and relearning process that absolutely takes, and like being gentle with ourselves with that, like the Yeah, this isn't happening. This isn't something that happens in a two hour training. You don't listen to this podcast, and you're like, I get it. Now, folks, you know, like that. This is something that has to keep, like, there are many layers to like, peel back and understand that we keep running into those biases that we all have that we didn't like, pause, address. Okay. Let's read. Let's read another book. Let's listen to another thing. Let's take another training. Let's like look at this from another way. And I think maybe that's a perfect way to kind of segue into the next I know, we had a question that you had asked your kind of your audience, your followers to share a little bit because I think that helps to kind of see more diverse perspectives and understand how it shows up. And we had a question about kind of what are some of the surprising ways that birth trauma has shown up in folks lives as they are not and
Unknown Speaker 24:23
I love that question. And this the moment I saw it, I was like, Okay, I want my followers to answer. So I've always kind of made sure to put one aside for them if I can, and just to ensure that their voices are heard just as much as my own. And our fellow with this question right away when I when they started to roll in the answers, the majority of them are around triggers. And so so I'll speak freely to them, but I will say that like I think a lot of people don't recognize that the triggers can be very, like very small things compared to outsiders. I've been feeling for me that's we'd kind of throw you into a moment of a flashback or an intrusive thoughts. And so like, for example, they were saying, you know, at the dentist is like a really big trigger. So that loss of control, right, you're on that chair. And you, it's that feeling of always being in stirrups, again, like you are giving birth and I hear the dentist a lot from people. One of the other aspects too is like around jealousy around future pregnancies, like for friends and birth announcements and things like that, that has so much shame attached to it for survivors, because they love those people in their life. And they care deeply for them. And they are reminded of their own losses and the grief that's attached to that around their own birth trauma. And so that came up a lot in responses to that as well as like, Yeah, so like someone just had resentment when people announced pregnancies not being able to watch specific medical series anymore like Grey's Anatomy and shows like that I remember shortly after my birth trauma, same thing like I love greats love that show. I can't watch it anymore. I can't I just find too many aspects of it really tend to to bring my trauma subjects forward. Yeah, somebody is triggered by mundane things like soap scents from pregnancy, nail polish color from delivery. So just like, again, those really specific and that's what trauma does it it really is vivid in terms of what it holds on to from the memories. And so yeah, I love that response. I think it shifts things pretty well. So yeah, I can't watch the office anymore, because it was playing while I was giving birth, though. Yeah, nice. So they lose the they lose these things that once brought them joy. And now they can't they can't face that as a result. And I think over time that could change for folks, especially with no specific therapy and support. I feel uncomfortable and stressed around babies and their moms. So even just that will remind my birth trauma survivor of this. Getting my period takes me back. And it's sometimes hard because I was bleeding out. Same thing for me going through two different postpartum hemorrhages, it took a long time for that to come back from me when it did, it was just like, I just remember standing in the bathroom and just like having a moment of panic, and then having to really calm myself to be like, it's just your period, it's you can hemorrhage nine months postpartum that is not hemorrhage up to 12 weeks postpartum, but not nine months. And so yeah, so just those little things that I think people wouldn't even give a second clients to someone who has been through this experience. Feels a lot differently towards them.
Maggie, RNC-OB 27:37
Yeah. Oh, well, thank you so much to everyone who likes shared those experiences. I really appreciate it. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And I think it's so it's so important for us to understand, like, all of those different ways that trauma shows up because it's, I think so many of those are not the ones that we think of in the certainly in kind of like the medical nursing field when we think about like, okay, trauma. Yes, I have a vague understanding about what that means and how what might be activating for folks. But you know, realizing, especially in all instances of trauma, but I think there is a special thing within within birth trauma, with all of those different things like that folks were doing it they enjoy, particularly where you're expecting. Yeah, I love the office, I'm gonna watch it as I'm whatever. Oh, yep, I think this color nail polish is going to be like, such a, like, beautiful shade to help. But you know, like all those like little details that you plan out, particularly thinking, yes, these are things I find comfort in, and then how that gets taken away, you know, again, that peace through it, like how that it removes some of those things, I think that's like for us to definitely be aware of how we're interacting with folks. And for folks who are listening who are experiencing stuff like knowing you're not alone. This is not you're not you're not broken. This is not you being extra, you know, like, this is not This is just This is the way trauma works. And it's, and we can do so much more for supporting each other and healing. Yeah, when we know all of that.
Unknown Speaker 28:48
Definitely. And you know, just to share a little bit about my own experience when it comes to surprising the impact of birth trauma is that I battled something called C diff, which I know you know, as a nurse. And for six months, I relapsed four times, four times, and it's a very serious virus that can take lives as well. And so here it was a first time brand new mom with my husband at work, suffering from birth trauma to different hemorrhages and midwifery violence and then to catch C Diff as a result of that second hemorrhage at the hospital when I went into the DNC for the routine placenta, and then to relapse four times, despite all of these doses of information to be used for it, and usually when one round of that is masked, yeah, I ended up as a research participant for the University of Alberta for their fecal transplant program. And that first transplant may II was 80% success rate and I found it and had to go for a second fecal transplant. This was all as a direct result of birth trauma. So that's one of the long term impacts and there is a slew of them. It's Oh, sad. There's a slew of these impacts that nobody seems to have. And that's one for me. Was that for six months battling this and being violently ill while trying to navigate motherhood for the first time? Yeah, gosh, yeah.
Maggie, RNC-OB 30:14
Oh, Teela... Yeah. I mean, I can't even imagine CDiff as a new parent dealing with and then relapsing four times, and how just how exhausting on every level that must have been trying to do all these things, and the habit like the Vanc, and everything reeks on your body, as well, the way that treatment works like that is just it's so much a whole then Yeah, absolutely. Understanding that all those things like that it directly comes from, from that if we can prevent some of those, that trauma, if we can be aware on that level, how much the all of those secondary things come from it, too. Mm hmm. Well, as we, as we wrap up here, you know, is there as we work to better understanding birth trauma, as we work to have more acceptance and mostly to support folks and then getting the healing that they need getting into therapy, getting the support that they need, are there like particularly preconceived notions around birth trauma, something folks like doubt when they're you're sharing research or experience and a way that we can maybe other or there are certain like references and resources, you would plug people up, like push people towards if they are actually interested in, in learning more and or just having kind of like some doubting feelings about it? And then maybe what's the on the other hand, if you have people who just they don't have an interest in, in really learning more and understanding it deeper? What are the ways that we kind of like, work through some of that as well?
Unknown Speaker 31:38
Yeah, I think for the most part, the people in the birth trauma community themselves, survivors, they get it, they get it, they live it, they know it. And so they are very accepting of the research. Because the that is their experience that it's speaking to. So it's very validating for them. I think it's the people on the outside, I think it's people who haven't been directly impacted by this, that are want to argue against that. And so you know, the numbers are too high or over exaggerating, I've had messages like that before, again, going back to the fear mongering, you're, you're just trying to scare people. And oh, I really struggle with that phrase, I really do the fear mongering piece, because it's really about offering people knowledge and information, which is powerful. And that makes a lot of people uncomfortable. So I think that anytime I show numbers is when I seem to have that push back. I was like, No, I can't be that hard. And watch my my stories unfold on Instagram, where I'm asking people about their experiences and doing polls, and then you see these astronomical numbers just within my community. Yeah. And then it's like, well, here you go. So not only is the research saying it, but also the followers are showing it with their own experiences. So I don't know, like, I think it's those numbers just overwhelm people. And it goes back to those like, those expectations around what the birth experience is supposed to be like. And I think that if we just continue to talk about it and create the space, and then maybe it will be more like a normalized kind of conversation for people, or it just might be something that makes people feel uncomfortable for a long time to come. And I'm okay with that. I knew a long time of doing really difficult work with people. So I'm okay to sit in that with folks. And be like, I'll join you in it. Let's talk about how uncomfortable those numbers are. And the realities that exist behind them. So and just for people wanting to learn more, I'm always posting you know, the daily t, which is where I offer research articles. And so I'm happy to link people to them, if they're looking for specific information around things like vicarious trauma, you know, and first trauma and the connection there as well. As you know, some of one of the things that's really lacking. I wanted to talk about this too, today is research around the queer community. Sorry, to the queer folks that that reach out to me and you can you share with me what we know about us and it's like, nothing, not enough waiting. So that's, that's another need that I want to look into down the road for my career. He's starting to generate more research for those families. And I'd seen with partners of survivors of birth trauma, there's like a handful, literally a handful of research out there that exists for them, and they to experience birth trauma. So I think there's a lot lacking within the research to that needs to be kind of questioned and considered.
Maggie, RNC-OB 34:39
Oh, gosh, yeah, those are so good. Yeah, I mean, obviously, we're just like scratching the just start to scratch the surface in terms of like how we understand and, and put that out there and yeah, I just I love that point, too, about, you know, sitting with that uncomfortable-ness. Like I think that's something that most of us have to work up our capacity for doing that. And I think you know, when you think of that number As they know, in the US, you know, so three to 4 million people give birth. So we're thinking of those, like stats we've talked about. So one to 2 million folks every year, are experiencing birth trauma like It's astronomical, right? Like, it's again, it's like so hard to wrap your mind around those numbers. But, you know, so realizing like that this really isn't impacting, like, so many people, it would be enough if it was impacting one person. But also, this is such a widespread issue, like we all have to collect. It's a crisis, we are in a crisis that we're not talking about, I think enough as a broader birth community.
Unknown Speaker 35:31
Absolutely. I call it a maternal mental health epidemic. That's what we're in right now. And so that whole time during COVID, we were talking about that pandemic, and I was watching all of these births that are suffer, and having an extra layer of COVID, which just added to it. And so yeah, I know, this is a worldwide problem that we need to pay attention to. Well,
Maggie, RNC-OB 35:52
thank you so much for sharing your insights and you know, speaking to your experiences, and sharing more of the folks who are in your community and what they're seeing, it's really helpful for us to learn more as we as we work to, to change how how we're understanding trauma, and then thinking about the whatever our role is within birth care, what the steps are, we can take to to stop it from happening to to support books, when it does happen. It's really powerful. So thank you so much Teela.
Teela, Therapist 36:19
Thank you, thank you for creating the space to talk about it.
Maggie, RNC-OB 36:24
Thank you for taking the time to share the space as Teela & I dug into so much of the heaviness and the the difficult personal growth that is necessary as we work to process our own trauma as we work to grow our understanding of how it shows up for our clients, our patients, our friends and family. And you know, as we all work to collectively create a birth care perineal care system that does not leave so many people feeling traumatized and untethered, and without someone to debrief and process with. As you work through how to bring this into your community. We would love for you to join us in ours. You can find us on our Facebook group at Your BIRTH Partners Community or all across social media. We look forward to hearing from you till next time