Becoming pregnant, carrying a baby to term, giving birth and then becoming a parent with responsibility for the life of an infant is one of the bravest, most exciting, most adventurous and deeply exhilarating things that a human being can ever do.
However, even if the conception, pregnancy and birth are relatively “normal” they can also be scary and uncomfortable in many ways. When things go “wrong” the effects on the well-being of parents and baby can be significant and will extend into the future.
Common Sources of stress and trauma during pregnancy and the post-partum period:
- Difficulty in conceiving, with or without the physical and emotional effects of various IVF procedures
- Various forms of physical stress during pregnancy – ranging from illness, to accidents, to medical problems with the developing foetus, placenta or mother
- Emotional stress during pregnancy – mood swings due to hormonal changes plus whatever else is going on in the emotional life of the mother including concerns about impending motherhood.
Remember that the developing foetus is intimately connected to the mother`s energy fields, emotions and biochemistry. If the mother is stressed the baby experiences that stress at all levels of being. He/she has no way of filtering the experience, no way of knowing “this feeling is not mine” and so takes everything in.
- Changes to stability of pre-existing mental health conditions. This may include the development or exacerbation of eating disorders, OCDs (Obsessive-Compulsive patterns) or other challenges to mental health. Some of these may become acute and require mental health support or interventions.
- Tocophobia – fear of giving birth. A degree of anxiety is fairly normal, particularly for first time mums but Tocophobia is more than normal anxiety. It is a strong phobic response which may be due to a previous traumatic experience of giving birth or a result of hearing too many “horror” stories about birth from other people. There may also be deeper factors at work if the prospective mother has been traumatised in other ways at earlier times of her life.
- Traumatic birth process. Even if a birth proceeds normally it is often the most intense experience a woman has ever had in her life and is not easily forgotten. Add in a few hitches, a medical intervention or two, overstretched staff who may not have the time to nurture and support the mother as much as they might like to and the stage can be set for a very traumatic experience.The effect of this trauma on the mother can be overlooked in the process of bringing the child safely into the world and then the business of coping with an infant`s needs. Often unresolved trauma remains with the woman. It may affect the parent-child bond, develop into a pattern of peri-natal OCD or even full blown PTSD and may contribute towards the development of post-natal depression.
- Separation of baby and mother. Sometimes either the mother or baby needs medical care so one or both are placed in intensive care units at the time when the vital mother-child bond should be forming. This can have huge implications for the subsequent attachment patterns and emotional status of the child as he/she develops.
- Pregnancy bereavement –all types e.g. termination, in utero death, still birth, neonatal death.
- Development or continuance of complex family or social situations which act as stressors. g. financial problems, various forms of abuse, relationship difficulties, addictive behaviours.
All forms of unresolved trauma and stress tend to accumulate in the body-mind system of both parent and child as disruptions to normal energy flow patterns.
These disruptions always surface at some later point in life and create turbulence in emotions and then effects upon mental and/or physical health, developmental patterns, behavioural patterns, coping strategies and the general sense of well-being of the individual. Patterns of stress that are set up very early in life are highly significant and tend to echo through the rest of that life unless resolution can be found.
Wouldn`t it be great if there was a method for helping parents affected by these and similar stressors to work through them effectively and safely?
Wouldn`t it be wonderful if it was simple enough for parents to be able to use regularly as a self-help method for themselves?
Wouldn`t it be amazing if the same method could be applied to help babies and children of all ages to overcome the effects of early stress and trauma before their well-being and development become adversely affected?
There is! Welcome to the amazing world of EFT, Emotional Freedom Technique or Tapping!
EFT is an energy therapy. It does not replace normal medical or psychological treatments but works beautifully alongside them to complement and amplify their healing effects by dealing with sources of underlying stress and trauma. It is now in worldwide use for handling many forms of emotional and physical upset and is slowly moving towards mainstream acceptance as a valid therapy modality.
There are still many sceptics out there but anyone who has used or received EFT that has been done correctly knows that it works. There are also now some scientifically based studies which are backing up the very common observation that
“It may seem a bit weird but hey, it really works!”
EFT is a combination of rhythmic tapping on acupressure points coupled with targeted affirmations. The words are tailored to target the problem while the tapping smoothes out energy flow through the meridian network of the body. The results can be rapid, surprisingly good and cumulative. Each issue addressed helps to reduce overall stress levels. Life becomes easier and freer with every EFT session as old fears, losses, anxieties and traumas are worked through and resolved. Results can include improvements in general well-being, in emotional and mental stability, loss of limiting patterns of belief and behaviour, improvements in relationships and sometimes improvement in physical symptoms.
Complex issues are best handled by EFT professionals but the most basic form of EFT can be easily learned and used as a self-help tool to handle issues in a simple but effective way. A free introductory EFT self-help manual is available as a download here: www.aamet.org
Summary of the Basic EFT process:
1. What are you feeling? Identify a problem: e.g. “I am worried I won`t be a good parent”
2. Where are you feeling it? Notice where you are registering that feeling: e.g. “In my belly”
3. What does it feel like? Find some descriptive words: e.g. “Like a hot twisting ache
4. How strong is that feeling right now, 0-10? e.g. “6”
5. Set Up – Create your affirmation, write it down, and then tap on the side of hand (Karate Chop) point while you say the affirmation 3 times:
e.g. “Even though I have this hot twisting achy worry in my belly I deeply and completely accept myself”
Note: EFT affirmations are always stated in the negative sense and present tense – you are describing your problem NOW and setting it up to be dealt with. Trying to tap in “happy-clappy” wishful thoughts just does not work.
6. Tap through all of the tapping points in sequence, a few light taps on each one while you repeat words drawn from your affirmation e.g.Top of head: “I am worried I won`t be a good parent”
Eyebrow point: “Hot twisty ache in my belly”
Side of Eye Point: “Worry about being a good parent”
Under Eye Point: “Twisty achy worry”
Under Nose Point: “All this worry”
Chin Point: “Hot ache in my belly”
Collar Bone Point: “Worry in my belly”
Underarm Point: “All this worry”
Side of hand Point: “Worried I won`t be a good parent”
Check in with yourself: How strong is that feeling NOW, 0-10? e.g. “4”
If the numbers are dropping you are making progress.
If the location of the sensation has changed you are making progress.
If the qualities of the sensation have changed you are making progress.
If nothing has changed you probably need words that are more specific. Find some new words!
8. Create your next affirmation with the new score, location and qualities and go again
EFT has been used very successfully through all stages of pregnancy, labour, delivery and the neo-natal period. Some typical Set Up affirmations that have been used as start points by my clients have been:
..I am angry that I can`t get pregnant yet…
..I am jealous that my sister got pregnant so easily..
..I can`t bear to be around my pregnant friend..
..I feel so sick right now…
..I am so tired of being pregnant..
..I am angry at what the hospital said..
..I dread going for appointments..
..I feel so sad that my twin was lost..
..I feel guilty about losing control..
..I am afraid of going into labour on my own..
..I`m upset the baby wont sleep..
..I have nightmares about the birth……….. I deeply and completely accept myself.
Every one of these clients gained benefit from the EFT work and went on to clear related issues as they gained confidence in tapping for themselves. You can as well. There are no side effects and, provided the basic process is followed, you cannot get it wrong.
Maybe try it out on something simple, see how well it works and notice how your life becomes lighter and brighter.
Maybe learn how to use EFT with infants, toddlers and children and see them begin to feel better as well.
What have you got to lose except your unhappiness?
Remember to contact a professional EFT practitioner if you know or suspect that you need to work with issues that might carry a strong emotional charge. Even very intense memories and emotional upsets can be handled gently and gradually until they resolve into a calm acceptance.
Please get in touch if you would like to know more!
Bio. Christine Sutton
Christine is a complementary therapist and therapy trainer based in Solihull, UK. She has 15 years experience working with EFT, Reiki and Reflexology to help deal with emotional issues and increase well-being for her clients. Her client base is very wide but she has particular interest in supporting people who are dealing with cancer and also, more recently, those who are struggling to either become pregnant or who are having problems during pregnancy or the peri-natal period.
Christine and her husband Philip Davis teach EFT and Reiki for self-help purposes and they also train therapists to professional standards. Working together they have developed a pictorial version of EFT called Picture Tapping Technique. https://phoenixeft.co.uk
References and Resources:
EFT therapy and training in the West Midlands, UK: https://phoenixeft.co.uk
Free Basic EFT Manual download and an international directory of professional EFT Practitioners and trainers: www.aametinternational.org
The Science behind EFT:
EFT and Pregnancy:
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