08 Nov Birth stories – celebrating birth!
A birth story is about the day your life changed forever – the day you became a mother, your partner became a father, your parents became grandparents, your siblings became aunts and uncles. A day you will never forget – it will be forever etched in your memory!
A birth story is a story that a mother tells about the events of her child’s birth. Every time a baby is born, a mother has a story to tell – a unique, individual story – some funny, some poignant, some scary, some sad, some uplifting. A birth story is a way of capturing and treasuring those precious moments.
The wonderful thing about birth stories is that there is no right or wrong way of doing it or what should be included and what should be left out – it is your story, and you can tell it the way it was for you. The sooner you write the birth story after your birth, the more emotion that will be captured.
When you feel ready to write your story, gather up your notes, photos taken during labour and birth, your babies ID tag, hand and foot prints. Sit down and just look through these items and the extreme emotions will come rushing back to you. Put pen to paper and write what comes to mind.
Some helpful questions to ask yourself could include –
- How did labour start?
- When did you realise you were in labour?
- What happened?
- Where were you?
- Who was with you?
- How did you feel when you realised this was labour – it had really started?
- What had you been doing the rest of the day before labour started?
- How long was your labour?
- Timing, spacing and intensity of contractions?
- Physical sensations during labour – were you hot or cold?
- What did contractions feel like?
- Positions used during labour?
- What positions were most / least effective at different times of your labour?
- Who were the people attending your birth?
- Did someone say something to you that really helped you focus during labour?
- What made you laugh during your labour?
- What made you cry during your labour?
- What were you thinking about during your different stages of labour?
- How did your labour compare with your expectations?
- Did this influence your experience?
- Was there a high or low point that sticks out for you during labour?
- How long were you pushing?
- Was your experience what you expected it to be?
- What was the first thing you said when your baby was born?
- What was the first thing you did when your baby was born?
- What stood out the most for you about the birth / just after the birth / just before the birth?
- What were the overwhelming powerful emotions you experienced as you were given your baby to hold?
- Did you do anything crazy during your labour?
- Did you have any embarrassing moments during your labour?
- What was it like sharing this experience with the person you love?
- Try to remember the smallest details so you can best capture the heartfelt emotions on paper
Keep in mind that one day your child may read this memorable story when you are capturing your innermost feelings about how your birth played out. It may be beneficial to write some of the negative emotions of disappointment, anger, sadness, guilt down on another paper that will only be yours. If an experience has been hard or drastically disappointing it might be helpful to go and chat it over with a professional or a close supportive friend so you can work through some of these emotions. You may have landed up having an emergency caesar when you were longing to have a natural medication-free birth!
Remember this is your birth story. A great idea is to ask your partner, midwife, labour support person to write their story of the birth as well. They don’t have to be the same – in fact they won’t be the same story because each one will have their part of the story and their own observations, and their own emotions so sometimes they won’t even sound like it was the same birth they were at.
You can even include things that happened that day as part of your story.
You could ask your labour support person or midwife to document what time things happened during your labour so you can add in these timelines to your story afterwards.
Hopefully this has helped you create your own canvas as you tell your own unique amazing birth story!
Why birth stories matter
Mothers may tell these stories to their children to provide them with a sense of pride and family unity, as well as to share feelings of love, awe and bonding between mother and child. Because mothers and daughters share the capacity to give birth, the transmission of such a story from mother to daughter is of particular interest
- Daughters who heard the story of their births more times show higher self-esteem and more secure relationships with their mothers than daughters who heard the story less often
- The longer and more descriptive and more positive stories are associated with higher self-esteem and stronger mother-daughter attachment
- Daughters whose stories were high in positivity had higher self-esteem
It has been said “Of the many things that can be passed on to my daughters, first among them is an arrival story – like the one my mother told to me. On the one hand, I was a child so treasured that my arrival was worth describing again and again. At the same time, the story wasn’t really about me; I only appeared at the finale. The lead characters were my parents and other family members. My narrative came out of theirs – their love, their humour, and their foibles. “You are precious and beloved,” my mother might have said. “And also, you are not the centre of the universe.”
Our aim is for you to use these real life positive birth stories to encourage yourself to be confident in your natural ability to give birth gently. Reading about real-life birth stories will help you prepare to give birth.