A Labor of Love: Birth and the Healing Process

As a Reiki healer, coach and a mother, one of the issues I advocate for is maternal health.  A recent study published by Amnesty International has brought to light that the U.S. is experiencing a maternal health care crisis: too many women are dying as a result of pregnancy-related causes.  A recent article in Time magazine shares some shocking statistics:

Every day in the U.S., more than two women die of pregnancy-related causes, with the maternal mortality ratio doubling from 6.6 deaths per 100,000 births in 1987 to 13.3 deaths per 100,000 births in 2006. (And as shocking as these figures are, Amnesty notes that the actual number of maternal deaths in the U.S. may be a lot higher, since there are no federal requirements to report these outcomes and since data collection at the state and local levels needs to be improved.) “In the U.S., we spend more than any country on health care, yet American women are at greater risk of dying from pregnancy-related causes than in 40 other countries,” says Nan Strauss, the report’s co-author, who spent two years investigating the issue of maternal mortality worldwide.

There are a number of reasons cited for this failure of our health care system, including difficulties in accessing quality care and overuse of interventions during labor, including induction and cesarean sections.  There are also many women who experience traumatic and life-threatening complications as a result of either inadequate medical care during labor or consequences of cesarean sections, which is major abdominal surgery.  A number of women who do deliver vaginally may also experience physical complications and birth trauma.  Far too often, their stories do not get told because they do eventually recover enough to where the focus then shifts to caring for their babies and families.  These women tend to suffer from bouts of post-partum depression (PPD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as well as other physical issues, including nerve pain, numbness and adhesions from their surgical procedures.  We are a baby-obsessed culture, but we do a poor job of caring for and providing proper support for the women who carry, deliver and care for our babies.

Why am I sharing all of this? Because I am one of those women.  I experienced a near-fatal, undetected post-partum hemorrhage after my daughter was delivered via c-section.  I narrowly escaped a life-saving hysterectomy.  I spent a week in the hospital, very weak, in excruciating pain and confined to bed.  Once I returned home, it was a slow physical and emotional recovery.  I live with low-level PTSD, although the PPD cleared up within 6 months of my daughter’s birth.  I was fortunate to find the International Cesarean Awareness Network, an organization whose mission is to “improve maternal-child health by preventing unnecessary cesareans through education, providing support for cesarean recovery, and promoting Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC).” My c-section was medically necessary, but there were many things about the hospital experience, as well as the lack of support afterward, that the medical professionals in whom I entrusted my care, should have provided. The information and support I received from ICAN helped my recovery, and I am proud that Dragonfly Reiki is a professional supporter.  My birth story was featured this past month on the ICAN site.  I wanted them to publish it (as hard as it was to write) so that hopefully no other woman has to endure what I did in order to survive the birth process and care for her baby.

I talk quite a bit about building your healing toolkit. I was very fortunate to have already been practicing Reiki prior to my daughter’s birth (I did Reiki quite often during pregnancy) but initially I was not strong enough physically or mentally to do the frequent self-treatments I needed to facilitate my recovery.  I am grateful to my Reiki teacher and one of my close friends, who provided me with Reiki during my recovery period.  Reiki continues to be my daily choice for self-treatment and has helped me tremendously with my PTSD symptoms, because I don’t tolerate anti-anxiety or antidepressant medications very well.  I have also regained all of the sensation in my lower abdomen and upper left thigh by doing a combination of Reiki and scar tissue massage.

The Reiki Precepts, which advocate “Just for today, do not be angry, do not worry and be filled with gratitude” have become important touchstones on the difficult days, when I flash back to my experience or feel sadness or anger about what I experienced or what I missed.  And best of all, practicing Reiki has allowed me to maintain a special connection to my daughter. She received Reiki in-utero and I used to it soothe her when she was fussy or gassy as an infant (which I talk about in an article on Reiki for pregnancy and post-partum.)  Now that she is 3 years old, she actually asks me to do Reiki on her at bedtime! The umbilical cord connecting us may no longer be there, but the spiritual cord created through Reiki is ever-present.

There were other things in my healing toolkit: psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, yoga, meditation, and the loving support of family, friends and the women of ICAN. As time goes on, I feel more healed and at peace.  Reiki is the foundation of my healing, because the daily self-practice (and healing sessions provided by others) centers me in my body and connects me to the endless wellspring of spirit.  I am still here for a reason, beyond just being able to mother my beautiful little girl. I am here to share my story, help others on their healing journeys and advocate for better maternal health care choices for the women who are bringing forth our future generations. For this, I am especially grateful.

Categories Health & Wellness, Reiki Benefits | Tags: , , | Posted on April 30, 2010

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  1. by Subourbon Wife

    On May 3, 2010

    Although I’ve never had Reiki, I was very surprised when I had an energy healing session and my C-section scar healed dramatically. It was about 3 years old at that point, and still very noticeable. Afterward, you can hardly see it. It also healed my leg, which wasn’t straight due to a bad break when I was a child. I didn’t expect any of this, but it was all positive. I will have to try Reiki. Thanks for the info!

  2. by dana

    On May 4, 2010

    Wow – thanks for sharing your experiences with energy healing. Do you recall what kind of energy work you received? My first experience with energy healing was actually not with Reiki, but with Pranic Healing. I received it in India during a business trip, and it helped my body release the pain and discomfort I was experiencing in my neck and shoulder. It was so amazing that when I returned to the U.S., I began to seek out someone to teach me how to do energy work.

    Warm regards,

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