Inspiration, Mamahood, Mamazine Moment, The Journey

Birthing a New Narrative: Healing the Body Trauma of Vasovagal Syncope

Natasha Lappos, Mama Glow Birth and Postpartum Doula trainee | September 14, 2021

This is a story of unpacking fears, rewriting narratives, releasing trauma, and reclaiming trust in my body. This is my birth story. A story that I need to share with the world because it is the story I was so desperately searching for during my own pregnancy. My birth story is a story of success, not because it was unmedicated but because I successfully transmuted a [limiting] belief that I held for most of my life. It is a story of breaking the cycle of fear that ran through my generations passed. My birth story is a story of healing because it reconnected me to my own divine wisdom. But it is not a story without its context.

At the age of six, I had my first fainting spell. I don’t remember where or how but I do remember thinking that I had died. I remember visions flashing through my head of the incident and I attested them to being visions of my death. To say the least, those are some heavy thoughts for a 6-year-old to have. Throughout my life, anytime I would get hurt, I would faint. I have fainted over 70 times, in a multitude of places. It quickly became clear to myself and everyone in my life that Natasha does not handle pain, to any degree. My whole life, I had no idea what was actually happening to me. I never saw a doctor for it or even had a name for it. Fainting was just something that happened to me when I felt pain and I accepted this as my truth. It was only until I was pregnant, that I finally put a name to it. Vasovagal Syncope is when the vagus nerve, the longest nerve in the nervous system, gets overstimulated and causes a sudden dilatation of the blood vessels in the legs. Leading to a drop in blood pressure, a slower heart rate, and a lack of oxygen to the brain which then causes the loss of consciousness. Growing up, it was my most dreaded feeling. And so, my whole life, I have had a fear of pain and therefore, a fear of birth.

However, my fear of birth began before I ever fainted, and before I was even born. Somewhere along my matrilineal line, trust in the process was lost and handed over to doctors. I was not raised to revere the magic of birth. Birth was an event to simply endure and survive through. This fear pulsed through generations before me and was a fear I inherited and held my entire life. It was not until several years ago that I stumbled upon an image celebrating a homebirth. Birthing without epidurals, and outside of a hospital seemed like an extreme that only the hippiest of hippies could do. But that image ignited something within me: a yearning to fully feel the power, my power, of bringing life into the world. It planted a seed of hope within me that I buried for years and would later grow to life during my pregnancy.

My partner and I found out we were pregnant fairly early into our relationship. It came as a big surprise and with it awoke all the dormant fears I held. I had never truly realized how much trauma I had stored in my body from years of fainting. Feelings of betrayal, of being a victim to painful events, feelings of mistrust, and disempowerment, suddenly came back to the surface.

My body betrayed me so many times before, how was I supposed to trust it to birth my baby?

I sought out resources to help me pursue an unmedicated birth. I searched the internet high and low for stories of people who had Vasovagal Syncope and who also had an unmedicated birth but to no avail. I followed the right Instagram accounts, read books, took a hypnobirthing course, and hired a doula. I did all the tangible things I could do to gear myself up. All those great resources aided my journey and ended up being essential tools for my birth experience, but the truth is, it all came down to my ‘why.’

Why was I envisioning an unmedicated birth? At first, it was to reclaim my connection to my body and my power. But when we found out we were having a girl, my ‘why’ suddenly became bigger than me alone. It was my responsibility to clear and heal the trauma for my baby girl. The fear of birth would end with me. I now understood the purpose behind the trauma in my life and the fear in my line. I understood that on the other side of the fear was liberation. On the other side of body betrayal was body agency and empowerment. Everything that presented itself as an obstacle in my path was actually an opportunity for my reclamation.

Natasha Lappos is a Mama Glow Birth and Postpartum Doula trainee.

As is every healing journey, it did not come easy. Hard-wired narratives, trapped trauma, and emotional blocks being healed in the span of months.  Members of my family reminding me of my all-too-familiar narratives around pain tolerance; scoffing a laugh when I would tell them I was going to have an unmedicated birth.  Everyone voicing their worries about having an out-of-hospital birth with a midwife, preparing me for the worst possible outcomes. Even the hospital staff, where I went for iron infusions just days before my estimated due date, warned me of the dangers of having an out-of-hospital birth with my iron levels. They threatened me with the possibility of needing emergency transfer due to hemorrhage and advised me that the only way to get through the birth with Vasovagal Syncope would be with an epidural.

It felt as though the faith and trust I had developed were constantly being tested and tried. But in actuality, it was another opportunity to embody all the work I had done.

After 50 hours of slow labor, intense back pressure, and a posterior baby that we managed to turn, our girl was born on the morning of January 1st, 2021, in a lovely birth-house. Her birth rang in the New year, a new me and a new way. My birth allowed me to remember parts of myself long lost and somewhere broken. It reminded me of the magic of life and the divine purpose of it all. My birth healed me, and by doing so it healed my daughter and all of our generations to come.

Natasha Lappos is a Mama Glow Birth and Postpartum Doula trainee. Born and raised in Montréal, Natasha has been living in Shanghai for the last 5 years teaching yoga,  guiding women’s circles, and catering celebrations with her grazing tables. Natasha is presently relocated with her family in Canada, where she is dedicated to supporting birthing people and nurturing their postpartum care. 

Follow her doula and motherhood journey on Instagram!

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