Are You a Survivor of Sexual Assault Hoping To Become Pregnant? Five Things To Consider in Becoming a Survivor Mom
Consider the following:
1. Have you adequately addressed trauma-related issues that might affect you in pregnancy? Common triggers include vaginal exams and ultrasounds, feeling exposed or vulnerable during medical appointments or childbirth, and fear of re-experiencing traumatic sensations. Work with a skilled, trauma-informed therapist to identify your triggers before getting pregnant.
2. Formulate a plan to address triggers. This may or may not be part of your birth plan. Smaller ob-gyn practices or midwives might be better options than larger practices for personalized care. When screening a care provider, ask if she is trauma-informed and what accommodations can be made.
3. Consider authorizing your therapist to consult with your doctor to facilitate sensitive care. Your therapist should be willing to work closely with your doctor or midwife, doula, and partner in helping you have the best possible birth experience.
4. Pregnancy often includes some feelings of loss of control, especially over one’s body. Anticipate the ways in which this might feel difficult. Practice good self-care and self-compassion. Acknowledge ambivalent feelings and try to consider the ways in which your body is working to grow and protect a new baby.
5. Read about successful pregnancies and births by other survivor moms:
When Survivors Give Birth—Understanding and Healing the Effects of Early Sexual Abuse on Childbearing Women by Penny Simkin, PT and Phyllis Klaus, CSW, MFT
Survivor Moms—Women’s Stories of Birthing, Mothering, and Healing After Sexual Abuse by Mickey Sperlich, MA, CPM and Julia S. Seng, PhD, CNM
Rachel Freedman, PhD is a licensed psychologist in Bethesda, Maryland who specializes in reproductive psychology, grief, and trauma. She can be reached at (301) 529-6944 or [email protected].