I’ve attended the births of a couple mamas over the past few months and they had the greatest stories to pass on to their babe when they were older. I encouraged them all to jot down their birth story in a personal journal or a baby journal.
For my own babes, I journaled my story in a personal journal, but then I also shared my stories on the blog (here and here)! More importantly, there is certainly a birth and postpartum amnesia that sets in when it comes to recalling some details of the labor, birth or postpartum period.
Additionally, there is a tidal wave of women rushing to community midwives during the pandemic for their pregnancy and birth care. Some of these women were preparing for a natural birth and some of them weren’t. Some of the women are pregnant with their first child and some of them are pregnant with their fifth child. Some of these women went to childbirth classes, read every pregnancy and birth book published, and have been practicing meditation daily. Some of them don’t know their own community resources.
For all these reasons, women must share their birth stories!
There are moments in every woman’s birth where another woman is simultaneously proud, encouraging, crying and smiling for her fellow sister. It is through each moment of birth that we share with another woman that we empower her in her birth. Pregnancy and birth are very different for every.single.woman. But it’s through each difference that we make each other stronger!
Here’s how to write your birth story…
Make time to write your story.
It will probably take you an hour or so. Find a quiet moment of the day to really reflect, grab a cup of tea and your journal and pen.
Before you put pen to paper, reflect on your birth from start to finish. See where your mind naturally takes you..is the start an office visit? a bag of water breaking? contractions? It’s different for everyone. Note that as your story’s start.
Use these prompts to light some fires.
- How did you come up with your baby’s name?
- How did you find out your were pregnant? (How long were you trying to conceive?)
- What was your pregnancy like?
- What was your favorite memory while pregnant?
- Did you have any aversions or cravings?
- How did you find your birth provider?
- What pregnancy courses, books or education did you do?
- How did your labor start? If you had an induction, why did you have an induction and what methods were used to induce your labor?
- What did contractions feel like to you?
- What did pushing feel like to you?
- What was it like to meet your baby?
- What do you remember right after birth?
- What do you remember about your hospital stay?
- How did you tell family and friends the baby arrived?
- What unexpected things happened during your labor or birth?
- What were your firrst few days at home like with the baby?
- What do you wish you would have known about the postpartum period?
Let your mind wander all the way to the end. The end is also different for each woman. Some women have very dramatic, event filled postpartum stories. Some are picture perfect, some are a complete mess. You’ll know where you end is.
Let the details overflow onto the paper or computer screen – this is where all the good stuff is. For example, I remember getting in the tub with my second babe, and although I was low risk and intermittent auscultation was appropriate for monitoring, the physician had ordered a non-stress test EVERY HOUR (this is not evidence-based or within any of our guidelines for low risk labor).
In the throws of labor, I kindly (not so kindly) told the nurse that type of monitoring was “not evidence-based.” Or, with my daughter’s labor, I remember asking my husband to pray for us in our driveway before we drove to the hospital. Those a little moments but they are my favorite. Your birth is the same.
The people – who do you remember and why.
Remember that nurse that was out-of-this-world? She brought you two warm blankets instead of one because you were shaking so badly and a mocktail made out of the unit’s stash of ginger ale and cranberry juice. These are the best parts. (Hopefully not the worst). Write down who you remember and why! Even if you can’t remember names, you know who they were.
Lessons – what did you learn.
- What was the best part of your birth?
- What would you have changed? Why would you have changed it?
- If you had different types of providers for deliveries (physicians, midwives, students…), who did you like and why? What would you recommend to a friend choosing a birth provider?
- What lessons would you pass onto your own son or daughter? Or to a niece or nephew?
- What would you change in a future pregnancy or birth?
- How did you manage the pain? What would you do the same or differently in the future?
These questions are endless but you’ll know which ones you want to answer!
Put your story in a safe place.
Put your story in a baby box or a baby book. Make a Shutterfly album or a scrapbook! Where ever you put it, make sure you store a digital copy somewhere as a backup.
Revisit your birth story.
Pregnancy and birth are amazing moments in a woman’s life. It’s so important to go back and read your story and remember what you accomplished.
As your babe gets older, consider reading their birth storry to them on their birthday. After all, it’s a birth story that the two of you share.
Be proud. Be tearful. Be humbled. Be inspired!
Share your birth story.
As a midwife, I have yet to meet a mama who doesn’t find out my occupation and instantly launch into her pregnancy and birth stories. This is especially true for grandmothers. It’s a fantastic ice breaker.
There’s a scary trend happening in our society… woman aren’t widely sharing their stories.
I hear the stories because of the job – but the things I hear are the things that all women need to hear.
Traditionally, cultures have learned from the art of storytelling and birth is no different. Mothers and grandmothers and aunts and sisters used to spend hours talking to the women in their family about what to expect for pregnancy, birth and postpartum. The stories offered preparation and education.
Tik Tok and instagram offer you incomplete pictures of birth – ask for the whole story.
That’s why we share birth stories here on the blog. We want the whole story, all the good and crazy bits, just how pregnancy, birth and postpartum really are – raw and real.
Are you inspired yet? Has documenting your birth story(ies) been on your to do list since you baby was born?! Now’s the time. Make time today and then treasure your story forever. Read the birth stories here for more inspiration.
Want to inspire other women? Share your story here at A Midwife Nation. Write your story in a word document or email and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include any pictures or videos you want to share! The birth stories are some of the most read content on the blog platform.
You never know – you might inspire, educate or empower someone along the way.
Can’t wait to read your stories.