We visualise childbirth as a blissful, even a spiritual or transcendental experience. For some women, the experience is traumatic, to say the least. When a person goes through pain or suffering, the reaction of loved ones around is a great help. Yet, I am learning that in our eagerness to resume normalcy, we are missing the point of ‘down time’ – a period of rest after the experience of childbirth.

Pete A. Levine, in his audio book ‘Healing Trauma’, made the example of a person who has taken a fall.

catch your wind

Our immediate reaction when someone falls, say, your future child or your elderly parent, is to help the person up.

Levine says that, first of all, we should check if there are any broken or injured parts. If there are, you really should not be moving the person. Also, unless the person is in immediate physical danger, such as where there is oncoming traffic, there really is no need to get up immediately.

According to Levine, our desire to help the person who falls has a lot to do with fear of our own helplessness, rather than the necessity of this person getting up.

I agree with Levine.

I remember how when I was in Polytechnic, I was walking with a classmate when I stepped on a metal drain cover after it had rained. The next thing I knew, I was on my bottom and in a daze. It knocked the wind out of me. The books and papers I was carrying in my arms flew and scattered impressively around me.

Instantly, my friend was pulling on my arm, “Get up! Get up!”

Here I was trying to get my bearings, and she won’t let go. Finally, I yelled at her: “I am fine! Just let me sit here for a while!” She looked on helplessly as I refused to move. I was perfectly alright and just wanted to catch my breath. Now I understand from Levine that I was asking for time for the shock reaction to dissipate.

I ‘had’ to get up soon afterwards, however, because a passerby offered to help as well, and to continue to sit there would be “weird” for him. My friend later said she was embarrassed ‘for’ me because I fell. Yet, in all honesty, I was not in any way embarrassed. It is only human to fall. Some people are more prone to falling down. I was glad I was not hurt, other than having a rude shock. If I had really been hurt, this friend would have caused me greater damage.

Teaching our children Empathy

Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying not to get or give support if it is needed.

I acknowledge that you might have had a difficult pregnancy, and a worse time giving birth to your baby. Rather than be in a hurry to get well, or rush to be on your feet, give yourself a break. Your body has been through a lot. There is no real need to hurry to ‘get up’. Faster does not mean better, not in this instance.

And, down the road, when your own child falls, please recognise that it is all right to let him sit for a while, to recover and to catch their ‘wind.

Stay with the feeling. Stay true with what you need when you need it.

Ask for support. Catch your ‘wind’.

By Dr Martha Lee

Dr Martha Lee is Founder and Clinical Sexologist of Eros Coaching in Singapore. She is a certified sexuality educator with the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counsellors, and Therapists. She holds a Doctorate in Human Sexuality from Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality, as well as certificates in practical counselling, life coaching, and sex therapy. She provides sexuality and intimacy coaching for individuals and couples, conducts sexual education workshops and speaks at public events in Asia.

For more info, visit www.eroscoaching.com