Whether you are officially diagnosed with PTSD or not, a traumatic experience affects all of us on a physical level. Without adequate recovery, the trauma sits in the body, creating roots like a seed growing in the soil. This keeps your body stuck in the fight-flight-freeze mode. This chronic activation of the stress response acts sets the stage for pregnancy complications such as gestational hypertension, gestational diabetes, and preterm contractions among others. In fact, a large longitudinal study conducted found that having symptoms of unresolved trauma quadrupled the risk of preterm birth (Yonkers, 2014).
What trauma release does
Trauma release is not just to help you "cope" or to "feel better". It must be an integral part of your preconception and prenatal care to help you have a healthy pregnancy and you do not need to have a diagnosis of PTSD to be impacted by the traumatic event. By reprogramming your nervous system and restoring safety in your body, it is possible to release the trauma and see positive impacts to your pregnancy outcomes. I'm honored to see it every day with my private clients.
How do you know if you have unresolved trauma stuck in your body?
This is not a simple question to answer as there are so many different signs for each of us. You might notice signs such as:
Avoiding places or people that remind you of your trauma
Feeling disconnected from your body/baby
Tension in your body that doesn't improve
Aches and pains not related to physical conditions
...and so many more.
The one I see most commonly along my clients is feeling scared to experience joy. Letting go, being happy, just doesn't feel safe. That is a tell-tale sign for me that there is trauma trapped in their body through an overactive stress-response system.
How do you take the first step?
Taking the first step to do this work is the hardest part. To take the first step, you have to be fully on board to do the work and to believe the work will help. Being half in will not yield you the results you’re looking for no matter what tools you use or who guides you on your journey.
Ask yourself: am I really ready to do this work? Am I ready to experience the release and all the effects that come with it?
If you're not, that's ok. You cannot rush this or do the work on anyone's timeline but your own. But if you do find you're not ready, try this exercise:
Ask yourself - what would happen if I release the trauma? What would change in my life, my health, my relationships.? Allow yourself to free associate and write down or speak out loud anything and everything that comes up.
Often when we're not ready to do the work, it's because it's unfamiliar. In some ways, living with unresolved trauma is safer because it's familiar. We have become accustomed to the headaches and the anxiety. We know which relationships trigger us or what places to avoid.
But when we do the work, all of that changes. The unknown can be scary and in an effort of avoiding the unknown, we avoid healing ourselves. This exercise can bring to your conscious awareness what might be driving you to not do the work.
Don't forget, trauma release should not hurt
One of the biggest deterrents I hear from women I speak with is that they're worried about more pain. Let me be clear about something. Trauma-informed work should not be as painful or more painful than what you've already been through. No pain, no gain is NOT the mantra to do trauma-release work by.
If you find that you've worked with someone where depression has gotten worse, anxiety has increased, or you're generally more uncomfortable or in pain than before...walk away. I say this as someone who's had to do trauma release work myself as well as someone who now guides women to release trauma after some of the scariest moments of their life: it should not make you feel worse before you feel better.
When you're ready to do the work, lead with safety