Hi ACES community, 

This is really a personal request for support. I will try to keep this short.

I'm a bodyworker and personal development coach studying/using many somatic and mindfulness healing tools for almost 20 years (TRE, IFS, yoga, meditation, breathwork, dance, voice, massage, NLP, etc), so I'm experienced in completely healing my own traumas from emotionally/physically abusive parents, and minor traumas in clients. 

However, recently a repressed memory surfaced, much worse than anything I remembered previously. I've worked on the severe impact of this memory on my nervous system (lots of new dysregulation) for about 16 months... then became pregnant. 

I'm very healthy and pro-active yet in this pregnancy there have probably been 4 major days of being hyperaroused/enraged from triggers for hours before dissociating, and several stressed blips of being triggered/toxic stressed for a few minutes and regaining control in this first 4 months of pregnancy. 

I'm desperate to avoid negative impact of my stress on my baby. But the main trigger for me is being in family/home, even though my partner is safe. So I can't avoid this now.

** Can consistent daily mindfulness and healing practices neutralize the sporadic moments of dysregulation in developing fetus? Is this irreversibly traumatising for my baby? Do you have any suggestions to minimize the hyperarousal moments that seem to be most out of control to help create a stable environment (basic things like breathwork, walking away from conversation, etc don't work/aren't strong enough)? 

Thanks very much for your support. 

Original Post

I only have personal experience to go on here, but what if we “flip the switch” and change how you view stress during your pregnancy? Instant of focusing on the negative impact stressful moments *could* possibly have, why not focus on the strength and resiliency your child is getting. Maybe that little body is becoming an expert at regulating cortisol?

In addition, try doing some heavy work each day. I found that lifting weights at the gym for 30 minutes (or even light weights at home with a youtube video) have helped calm my anxiety. 

Big hugs and know that you are going to be a great momma! I can tell you already love this baby immensely. 

And keep talking to your baby, differentiating what is happening to you as a memory of something long ago that you are working with, and the nervous system dysregulation is not about the baby.  Keep reassuring the baby you love and want him/her/them.  And yes, occasional high cortisol is helping the baby build resiliency.  Pregnancy, esp. in the second trimester opens up memories that want to be cleared before the baby comes.  Blessings, and best wishes for a wonderful labour and delivery.   

Hi Nicole,

I appreciate your courage in posting this. Pregnant women are often so troubled when they feel anything other than the 'joy' they are culturally expected to feel.

I wonder if the pregnancy might be partly the result of you having worked on so much of for 16 months prior? Maybe all the work you did actually created space for a new creation--eventhough there is still work to do. 

I would recommend talking with a therapist who specializes in perinatal matters and trauma. Or perhaps do some EMDR which is a short term intervention targeting specific trauma. 

As you advance into the second trimester, it could be important to remember the fact that what you are experiencing is about past events that you are still trying to sort out and to remember that unlike your own memories, the fetus is protected by the placenta. It seems from what you are describing that you are well versed in the somatic aspects of your self care. I would encourage you to speak to someone also. 

Finally I would highly recommend a book by Daniel Stern: The birth of a mother. I recommend it for all pregnant women. It's a quick and easy read--I remember not liking to read when I was pregnant. 

I wish you all the best

Hi Nicole, my name is Leslie Peters and I'd be happy to talk with you. My professional experience includes 30 years as an RN working with women with trauma and helping them with their at risk pregnancies and the early postpartum period.

I understand what you're going through and would be happy to hop on a  call with you to share some tools that worked for me.

My number is 610-506-8298 or you can message me here.

With love, gratitude and heart, Leslie

PS You're not alone

Jenny Thompson posted:

I only have personal experience to go on here, but what if we “flip the switch” and change how you view stress during your pregnancy? Instant of focusing on the negative impact stressful moments *could* possibly have, why not focus on the strength and resiliency your child is getting. Maybe that little body is becoming an expert at regulating cortisol?

In addition, try doing some heavy work each day. I found that lifting weights at the gym for 30 minutes (or even light weights at home with a youtube video) have helped calm my anxiety. 

Big hugs and know that you are going to be a great momma! I can tell you already love this baby immensely. 

Thanks very much Jenny. This reframe, that he might actually be getting top notch training 👌 in self regulating, is really helpful to think about. 

And yes! Generally, strength training has been really helpful for me in the past too! I will admit, while pregnant I've tended towards gentler exercise, like walking yoga pilates and dance. But I'll give it a try with lighter weights at home and see how we go. 

Thank you again for your care and support 🙏

PS. Is there much research out there on the development of resiliency in womb? That's interesting to me

LesliePeters RN posted:

Hi Nicole, my name is Leslie Peters and I'd be happy to talk with you. My professional experience includes 30 years as an RN working with women with trauma and helping them with their at risk pregnancies and the early postpartum period.

I understand what you're going through and would be happy to hop on a  call with you to share some tools that worked for me.

My number is 610-506-8298 or you can message me here.

With love, gratitude and heart, Leslie

PS You're not alone

Thanks so much Leslie. That's very kind of you. Messaging you now. 

How wonderful that you are ahead of the curve on this! I admire your strength and bravery. Two practices that have made a great deal of difference for me are Rhythmic Movement Training (RMTi- https://www.rhythmicmovement.org/consultants) and Neuro-emotional Technique (https://www.netmindbody.com/). Both are safe and supportive during pregnancy and build on the other work you have been doing. I'm also getting helpful reminders from my Woebot (https://woebot.io/) App. Easy and quick reminders to support your thinking. Thought wise you could also go through the activities in the Mothers and Babies curriculum (https://www.mothersandbabiesprogram.org/).

If you are already this far in your journey becoming a mother will be a wonderful place to continue your healing.

1. Neurofeedback is extremely helpful if you can get it.  Very very relaxing.  "Neuroptimal" is a really easy, effort free NF system.  It made a giant difference to a youth I mentor.  It takes about 6-8 sessions to be noticed and a full course of treatment is about 20-30 sessions.

2.  Talk to your baby....  Tell your baby he/she is safe, loved, warm, growing, protected, held, cared for, beautiful, wanted.   "I am feeling stressed right now, but you are very safe, I've got you, you are loved, and you are not the source of my stress."

3.  Sing to your baby!!   If you sing the same lullaby or or gentle song now, the baby will recognize it later!   And singing calms the singer too.  :-)

4.  Work on getting full deep slow breaths.  All the way down into your belly.  Every breath can bring healing all the way in to the core of you.  My Naturopathic doc recommends 100 really deep conscious breaths per day! 

5.  Consider joining a support group.  La Leche League has free mother-to-mother support and welcomes all pregnant women and new moms to meetings.  Meetings happen each week in most areas.  1-800-LA LECHE   You can get a head start on learning about breast feeding, and also have a place to go to realize how normal a lot of the up and down emotions of motherhood are.

6.  Consider wearing your baby in a soft sling.  Movement/walking/jouncing/carrying is VERY regulating to a baby.  In one study merely giving half the moms slings to use DOUBLED the rate of secure attachment in those babies.  Babies love to be held and carried.  I used to put my baby in a sling when cooking, cleaning, doing errands, etc.   

Your love and concern for you baby tell me you will be a good mom!  Just love on that baby and do your best to communicate:  "I see you, I hear you, I love you, and I've got your back."

 

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