Birth “Trauma” Starts In Utero and Lasts Until Two Years Old.

If you really think about it, birth in itself, even if there was no “trauma,” is a traumatic process. 

It’s an intensely physical dance between the mother and the baby. That poor baby has to push through about 10 centimetres, measure it…not that big!

I know baby’s heads are small, but if you’ve given birth, you know it’s not exactly easy. And their heads sure don’t feel small when they’re coming out!

So trauma is a big word. Perhaps ‘birth experiences’ might be more appropriate, but they start in utero when your mother is pregnant with you.

Maybe not when the foetus is just an embryo, but around 5 – 6 weeks when that heart begins to form and beat, that baby is picking up everything that is going on in the outside world.

The baby can hear the mother. The baby’s in tune with the mother’s heartbeat, feels whatever stress the mother is enduring, receives what the mother’s eating, and all of that impacts that baby. 

All sorts of trauma or challenging experiences can happen for that baby in utero, and then the baby’s born and comes out into the world. 

That’s tough enough, because suddenly they’re not in their nice, safe, warm environment, protected, and now they’re dealing with gravity and cold and nappy changes and all the rest of it. 

And our exhausted parents, and how they cope goes into the blend. 

This goes on for the first two years of that baby’s life. 

We have our formative years, which is birth till about 12, but those first two years, those early years, that’s when that imprint of how we’re going to respond and perceive life, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally too, develops. 

What are the relationships that we develop with our parents and why do they develop the way that they do? 

Why can two siblings come out of the same womb and have the same childhood yet have completely different physiques?

Genetics obviously is a huge factor, one could get the father’s, one could get the mother’s, there’s all sorts of genetic variations, but it’s not just that.

How can their perceptions of essentially the same experiences be light years apart? 

Back in the 60s, they didn’t know that feeding babies sugar might not be the best plan, right? So my mother gave my sister cookies to chew on, and she’s had a sweet tooth her whole life. 

Not even two years later, by the time I was born, the doctors realised, “don’t give your kids sugar.” So I got pretzels. So already, the dynamics had changed.

Because of my father’s emotional issues with weight, she went one way and I went the other way. She had eating disorders and gained weight and I had eating disorders and was bulimic and anorexic. 

Same pattern with my own kids! My poor first son, because I was all pure I chose only to breastfeed him for the first year. 

I mean, no wonder I could barely get off the couch, because I also didn’t give him a dummy. In England, they’re called dummies which is a pacifier. 

I was the dummy! Constantly breastfeeding him, and that’s all I did for the first year. Poor kid was probably starving.

And then my second son came along, who was born almost with his teeth all the way through, and he was voracious. 

Of course, I was exhausted because I had a little toddler running around. So at eight weeks old, I gave him a rusk to chew on. I thought, ‘I’m not doing this again!’ Chomp away kid, enjoy the food!

Even though they’re the same height, and wear the same size shoes and there was a time when they wore the same size clothes, they’ve had very different physiques their whole life.

Forrest has always been much slimmer, more streamlined, and Roam has been just bigger. They’ve both always been super fit and active, sportsmen. 

But when Roam was a kid and we went shopping in the States, he fit into what they called a “husky” size. He hated that. But he grew into his size when he kept getting taller and taller. Yet Forrest, eating the same diet never reached husky.

Thinking about it, I also never gave Forrest any sugar until he started going to school – kids parties. Yet Roam started eating sugar two years earlier than Forrest because it wasn’t fair to allow one to have something the other couldn’t.

It’s just interesting now, whether that only came from those little differences in the beginning, I don’t know, but it starts to set up the imprint of how you’re going to be in the world, whether it’s what you’ve been given to eat when you were a baby or the relationship that you’ve developed with your parents. 

I was always daddy’s baby growing up, because those first six months of my life I was super sick from swallowing all of that birth gunk.

And to give my mother a break from the screaming newborn, my dad would hold my head in his hand, my body laid on his arm while he was shaving in the morning, and he’d sing to me, and we’d have our bonding time. 

So growing up, my dad was always my my safety zone, right? He was like Prince Charming. So that was the imprint that I set up with my father. And it started early on. 

Depending what’s happening to you or to your parents when you were born up until about two years, is when that first relationship begins. 

I’ve read that it’s the bonding with the mother, that matters. The father, unless he’s the prime caretaker, doesn’t really feature much until the kid is about two.

But I believe that the baby connects to both parents very much. I mean, yes, they’re bonding with with the mother, because that’s who they’ve been bonding with up until birth. But if the father is consistently present, the baby will bond with him too.

So even if you don’t think you’ve had trauma, like actual intense birth trauma, you could have had some foetal issues going on, or if there was any problems with the pregnancy, if your mother was high risk, if your mother nearly died, if you were taken out by C section, forceps, cord around your neck, breech birth, if your mother was being abused in any way, if she was taking drugs… the list is endless.

And from the moment of birth, what happened? Then, even if you came out “easily” but your mother died when she gave birth, that’s traumatic, because that baby then doesn’t have the main bonding imprint. Or if you were given up for adoption. Or if you were in a war zone.

Or, in my case, 10 pounds, and jaundiced, put in an incubator for two days and not held. Or if you had any other physical problems at birth, maybe you needed emergency surgery?

So these experiences all set up a different imprint. It might not necessarily be construed as “trauma,” but anything that happens to that little baby that lets that baby not feel safe, not feel held, not feel wanted, not feel protected…. all of that goes into the pot of birth trauma. 

I wanted to expand on that and enlighten you all that this birth trauma field is inclusive from in utero until about two years old.

So if your parents are still alive and you’re wondering why you have repeating patterns or why you think about things specifically the way you do and your sibling is completely different, think about what you know about your birth. 

The more I think and work with birth trauma, the more realizations keep coming up for me too, about my real distrust of not only authority, but all things medical, because now I’m mainly holistic, because a nurse held me in and I was sick for the first six months. So why would I trust the medical profession? 

Not that that was a conscious choice, but that went in so deep at that cellular level when I was brand newborn, right? I wasn’t raised holistically! But my holistic leanings started when I became pregnant. I was not going to repeat the pattern for my children, and I doubt it was entirely conscious on my part even then.

So think about what you know about your birth. And if you don’t know about your birth and your parents are still alive, now is the time to find out. 

Ask some questions, ask your mother, ask your father, what was going on, what was happening. How did it all work out and and listen the story that they tell you. Imagine it from a “baby self” point of view.

When I heard my birth story in two very distant parts from each other, it explained so much of who I was as a person, and my very volatile relationship with my mother. 

It explained and answered so many of those unasked questions, and maybe it can do the same for you too. 

So get some answers to your unasked questions! Find out all you can and reflect back and see how it’s still impacting your life. 

Want to unpick some of that mystery?  Book a call.

Latest articles

Helping you make peace with your story

Subscribe To Our newsletter

Book a complimentary mindshift call

Take the first step to speaking your truth