If you're pregnant, or have been, you've probably had your share of people volunteering their birth stories. They see a round belly and they begin sharing their birth story with you. There's a seemingly insatiable need to recount our birth experiences, no matter how they unfolded. Reliving the excitement of birth and meeting our babies is a powerful and effective way for us to process our experiences.
As a Birth Doula, I encourage my clients to process their births by recounting their births with me. Sometimes that retelling happens immediately in the delivery room as they cuddle their newborn, and for others, a little more time is needed between the birth and the retelling.
Recently, I attended a beautiful, sweet birth. Within an hour of the baby's arrival we were recalling the birth and sharing freely. And then the mama who gave birth stopped us, saying it was too fresh to talk about. We shifted gears and left it at that. A few weeks later at our postpartum visit, the conversation was really different. She was enjoying recounting her birth, wanted to talk about it, often! Processing her birth by retelling it was an important part of integrating her experience, and it needed to happen on her timeline.
Once you are out of your birth zone and back into your rational mind, you may find yourself wanting to talk about your birth experience, the sensations you had, the way you felt as you moved through your labors. All of this helps you to conceptualize and understand how your birth unfolded. Having a chance to process your experience without judgement or subjective thoughts from another is a powerful step toward accepting your birth and moving forward as a confident parent, fully integrated with your birth experience.
If you don't have a chance to share your birth story with someone in this way, writing it can be just as effective. The power of journalling has been well documented as a mindful activity that helps to release tension or stress, and process challenging life experiences. When you write down your birth story, it allows you the chance to accept your birth, revel in the wonders of what your body did, take pride in yourself for growing and birthing your baby, and find joy in the experience! This is true if you experienced your birth to be traumatic or ecstatic. Everyone can benefit from writing or retelling their birth story.
And when you write down or retell your birth, others get a chance to learn from you (if you choose to share it of course!). When we share authentically, we allow whoever is listening to practice compassion, be open-minded about birth and consider what their own responses might have been.
As a pregnant person, it's important to be selective about which birth stories you allow into your consciousness.
The messages you allow into your mind will start creating pathways and systems of belief. No matter how you are planning on giving birth, you'll want to seek out birth stories that build trust in your body and birth, focus on the positive and support your birth goals. Anything that doesn't serve you, doesn't deserve your mind space. ❤
Ready to delve into birth stories more deeply? Here are some of my favorite online places to get started:
Did you write to record your birth story? How did it feel to write it down, or share it with someone who really listened to you? Share your experience with us in our comments or on social media!
Arielle is a Certified Labor and Postpartum Doula, and a Certified Childbirth Educator. In her role as Doula and Educator, she promotes a sense of curiosity and exploration during pregnancy, provides evidence-based education for childbirth and postpartum and offers support services guiding expectant families to claim their birth and postpartum experiences as their own. Arielle offers comprehensive Childbirth Services including Birth Doula South Bay Area, Santa Clara, Palo Alto and San Jose metropolis areas, and virtually wherever support is needed.
To read more, check out Arielle's Philosophy page.