Trauma affects everyone differently, and there are endless events, experiences, and instances that may cause trauma for someone. When a lot of people hear the word “trauma,” they think of single-time, terrifying events — such as war, sexual assault, or natural disasters. But, unfortunately, trauma can be caused by so much more than just these one-time horrific events.
One example of this is actually many cases of reproductive trauma. Sometimes, someone may develop reproductive trauma because of a one-time event, such as a miscarriage. But this is not always the case. Someone may also develop reproductive trauma due to a recurring experience, such as infertility or pregnancy complications.
So, what exactly is reproductive trauma? Like many types of trauma, thinking of reproductive trauma as a single thing can be a bit misleading. Truthfully, reproductive trauma is more of a spectrum experience and can result in any number of different forms of grief. Similarly, it can be caused by any number of experiences — both one-time and recurring. The only requisite for reproductive trauma is that the trauma is caused by something relating to becoming a parent or losing a child.
Examples of Reproductive Trauma
As mentioned above, reproductive trauma can come from any form of loss involved in the process of becoming a parent. Some common causes of this type of trauma include:
- complications in delivery, and
- complications in pregnancy.
How to Overcome Reproductive Trauma
Just like any other form of trauma, reproductive trauma can feel impossible to overcome. The experience of losing a child, or losing the ability to have a child, cannot be understood by someone who has not experienced the same experience. And even then, someone who has experienced the same thing may have a completely different way of experiencing it and processing it. So, it can be easy to feel like there is no way to escape this feeling, and you will never overcome it.
So, while we cannot tell you exactly what to do to overcome what you are feeling because everyone is different, we can share some tips that may help to lessen the pain. That’s exactly what we’re going to do here.
Know You Are Not Alone
Many of us feel like we are the only person going through something when we experience something traumatic. We feel alone and may even isolate ourselves from others because how could they get it? While no one is going to understand what exactly you are going through because we each process grief and trauma differently, you are not as alone as you think you are.
There are support groups, communities, and even individuals who understand more than you think. Find your group and talk about what is going on with you. Finding a way to share your grief, rather than keeping it bottled up in your mind, can be a great way to heal.
Don’t Try to “Fix” It
Sometimes there isn’t a way to fix something with a simple solution. Maybe you’re going to need more than a long weekend and a bubble bath. In general, when dealing with trauma, it is better to focus on acknowledging, empathizing, and validating rather than “fixing.” This is because what can you really do to “fix” the situation?
Feeling like your experiences and your reactions are valid and understandable can be infinitely more helpful and healing than getting advice on how to “fix” something that may not be able to be fixed in the first place.
Many studies over the years have shown that simply being outdoors (preferably somewhere with some green nature around) can do wonders for your happiness, cognitive performance, and mental health as a whole. According to the American Psychological Association, contact with nature can increase our happiness and sense of meaning in life while also decreasing our mental distress.
So, if you can, go take a walk to a nearby park or go sit under your favorite tree. If you don’t really live next to any nature, try taking a drive to a nearby park or natural landscape and just take some time to sit and allow yourself to really connect with nature around you.
Take External Opinions and Advice with a Grain of Salt
It is not all to receive guidance and advice from loved ones during tough times. Sometimes this guidance may be precisely what you need, and sometimes, it may not be helpful at all. This is normal; everyone has their own opinions and ways of processing things.
But it is crucial to realize that just because someone offers advice does not mean that you have to take it. Others, even your loved ones, do not get to tell you how you should grieve or process your experience or insert themselves into your life if you do not want them to.
Give Yourself Time to Feel
No, seriously, schedule time for you to feel anything that wants to come up. Sadness? Anger? Fear? Anything. Think about it like scheduling visitation hours for thoughts and feelings about the trauma. When something reminds you of it, or you feel a thought or reaction come up at another time in your day, gently remind yourself that you can process it during your designated time. Acknowledge the thought and gently place it aside until you are done with the tasks you need to complete before your processing time.
Sometimes having a designated space for this “visitation hours” time is helpful as well. Maybe you have a specific place in your home to go when it is time to process these feelings and thoughts. This can help to more easily separate this time from your daily life.
Take It One Day at a Time
You may have heard that grief is healed in time. That as time passes, it will be less painful. We hate to be the ones to say this, but for most people, this is not the case. Your grief is likely not going to subside simply because time has passed. So, you may wonder, why do people always say “time heals all wounds”?
Time does not make the grief disappear, but it allows us to add to our lives. Let’s think about it like this. Have you ever seen how trees continue to grow upwards even when there are telephone wires over them? What do the trees do? They grow around the wires. The same thing happens to us. As we continue to live our lives, we grow around the grief, we learn that it will always be there and that we cannot move it, but that doesn’t mean our lives stop.
Sometimes you can’t think about the future. Maybe you can’t even get yourself to think about next week. That is okay. Take it one day at a time. You are doing as much as you can, and that is enough. One day, you’ll be able to think a little further ahead again, but if that is not today, just think about today, and tomorrow will still be there tomorrow.
If you are looking for more personalized support or guidance, you should consider seeking the help of a mental health professional like a therapist or counselor. Sometimes you will want to talk about what you are going through, and a therapist can provide a safe and understanding space for you to do this. Similarly, a therapist can help you identify the most effective strategies and techniques for overcoming your reproductive trauma.
So, if you are looking for someone to talk to about reproductive trauma, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at Love Heal Grow. We recommend opting for an experienced therapist who specializes in grief and trauma because they will be the most likely to understand and effectively provide the support and guidance you are looking for.