Today's guest blog is written by Sylvia Tillmann, a birth trauma practitioner and expert in TRE.
In an ideal world, pregnancy is a happy and exciting time full of anticipation, you bond with your midwife and explore your ideal birth method. And then your little bundle of joy arrives happily and healthily. Wonderful! Sadly it's not always that picture perfect.
Giving birth is hard work, even when everything goes smoothly – but for about 30,000 women in the UK annually birth doesn't go smoothly and many of these women experience trauma. Birth trauma is like other traumatic experiences, it can display symptoms of PTSD, flashbacks, anxiety, fear – not just for the mum, but also the partner.
I read recently a mum's comment who said that “ten years on and the birth of my child still affects me”.
I don't have any more details, but I don't need them. As a somatic practitioner I understand what is going on in this woman's body.
When mammals – and that includes us humans – encounter a threatening situation, they mobilise energy to defend and protect themselves, which is helpful as it gives them the energy to fight or flight. But if they wanted to run or fight and couldn’t, that energy, i.e. the stress hormones still remain in the body. This is exhausting and can stay on until the body is able to discharge the excess energy. Once that gets used up, the nervous system is in balance again.
How can we burn off the excess stress hormones? By – literally – shaking them off! Shaking is an innate reaction and it is how the body down-regulates the nervous system. In fact, we are genetically encoded to do so – sadly we've been socialised out of it.
If you find it hard to believe, though, observe a dog after a stressful situation and how they simply shake it off and then happily get on with life.
We humans still do it, albeit only in quite extreme circumstances, e.g. after a car accident or a gun attack. Sometimes after birth. A doula once told me that women who experience post partum shivers generally feel better in the long run.
Our instant reaction is to comfort the person and tell them to 'calm down' – the absolute wrong thing to do as we should trust our body's intelligence and allow it. The advantage? We experience fewer challenges in the long run.
So, how can we allow our body to tremor? I'd like to introduce you to TRE (Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercises). TRE is a somatic stress management tool that can support you to re-set your nervous system.
TRE starts with six warm-up exercises to prepare the muscles to get into the tremoring process, then the actual tremoring happens – automatically and involuntarily. Your body knows exactly what to do, so simply trust the process.
TRE is no quick fix and not a cure for everything. But where we store tension and trauma in our body, we can support the body to release the tension held.
Once you've learned TRE, it's your tool to use and you can pro-actively support your health and well-being – without relying on anybody else “to fix” you. Many users also appreciate, that nothing needs to be verbalised or analysed – isn't it great to allow our constantly busy minds a wee break?
Our bodies are amazing, let them do the work. Ready to give it a try?
________________________________________ Sylvia Tillmann