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Review of
William Emerson's Caesarean Birth Trauma videotape
Jane English

(see the full text of the tape's narration.)

William Emerson has done an excellent job of naming the details of caesarean birth trauma; His work is systematic, in-depth and compassionate. With his hands-on work with babies he has accomplished the very difficult task of finding a way of "doing" something to help in a way that is acceptable to babies (and adults) who were very much "done to" in their birth and have great resistance to being touched and/or controlled.

This tape will be useful to caesarean born people and their parents in learning not to judge behaviors that differ from vaginal birth-learning. The CB's will recognize themselves and find they are not crazy, just different. The parents will realize that their child is simply different and that they are not incompetent parents.

His work includes the important step of repatterning, which is often neglected in cathartic therapies. It is important to replace negative patterns with something positive, otherwise habit will simply fill the space with the same old patterns. I was glad to see that his work goes beyond problem-solving to facilitating emotional, mental and spiritual growth beyond what is "normal." The traumas can be seen as "demons" guarding a treasure, the treasure of full humanness.

A few suggestions to make a good tape even better:

1) Most of the material on this video is about labor caesarean birth( LCB), rather than non-labor caesarean birth (NLCB). It is assumed that "pushing through" is what is needed. In my opinion, this may or may not be true. Probably it is important for labor caesareans to complete the pushing through that they began and were interrupted from. For non-labor caesareans pushing through might be a useful skill to learn, but is not necessarily the only "way through." However, I am glad he has researched LCB, as that is a hole in my own work on caesarean birth which focuses on NLCB for the most part.

2) William's work focuses on the mechanical aspects of CB but seems to neglect the anesthesia and the cutting (yes, I know the baby isn't cut, but see my work for thoughts on the baby's experience of the mother being cut.)

3) Also neglected is something that I think is important for NLCB's -- the experience of suddenly having to limit one's identity to this small body without the practice and birth-learning that occurs in labor.

4) I would have liked to see more comparisons with similar but untreated children, not just in statistics but in some actual examples. (This would probably be hard to get....ie. some video of difficult behavior that is a resonance of birth)

5) The word "section" is overused. We caesarean born people are not "sections," we are people! And our arrival on earth was a birth, not just a medical procedure.

6) Include some of the positive aspects of being born caesarean (see my book, Different Doorway, and various articles). Caesarean birth is not just a problem!

Some further thoughts:

Early NLCB's may not have experienced the dislodging - my own experience of gentle downward pressure on my head is that it is intensely pleasurable, quite the opposite of the baby on the tape.

I think that dislodging trauma and lifting trauma probably mix together; they seem similar.

For a non-labor caesarean interruption is also a factor, but it is interruption of a state of being (in the womb) not a process (of labor) that is interrupted.

Mention of "boundary intrusion" was good, as that lack of being respected is very strong in NLCB.

Issues with authority come not only from dislodging, but from the whole process of being taken over.

A thought on the "tomboy" pattern: It may be a residual identification of femaleness with pain -- the cutting. Note the girl's response to the idea of being born by having her mother cut open.

A personal note:
While watching the tape I understood how my own anger (at not being seen or respected) that came from birth has gotten mixed in with my frustration (at not being seen or respected) during the years I have been researching and writing about caesarean birth. Good to see this! Thanks for asking me to review the tape.

(see the full text of the tape's narration.)

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