Want to Write Your Birth Story?
You're not alone! I spend a lot of time in classes, online, with clients and with friends, explaining the importance of reading and watching positive birth stories. It enables our subconscious mind to take on the fact that birth is overwhelmingly SAFE and can be extremely positive, in any location, at any speed and in any circumstance! Our minds are filled with a myriad of traumatic, scary and dramatic depictions of birth - fragmented tales from people who's birth were out of their control, influenced by opiates or other pharmaceuticals, or even created for TV and films purely for shock and entertainment value (goodness know what that says about humans in general, if a calm, powerful, physiological birth isn't considered exciting enough!). These stories are stored up over our lifetime so that when our turn to labour comes, our subconscious can scan alllll of these banked up memories of birth to instantaneously send out emotional, hormonal and physical reactions in our bodies. For most people, their banked up stories equate to a feeling of fear and panic, an influx of adrenaline, and tension building in the body - exactly what we DON'T need during labour!
So how will sharing your positive birth story help? Other peoples positive stories give us chance to see what helped or hindered others, which themes come up often, and which ones you're instinctively drawn to, they're a chance to absorb one another's beautiful birthing glory and begin to dissipate the lie that labour is something we simply endure, after leaving our dignity at the door of course. You already know how powerful they are as they played a part in shaping your expectations and reactions of birth too, you read about women who birthed powerfully in under 3 hours, those who didn't even realise that it was actually labour until a head appeared, how 'high risk' mamas took the radical decision to birth against hospital policy in favour of recent evidence and instinctive trust in birth, those who's birth plans moved from Plan A, to Plan B and on to Plan C - all the time knowing they held the reigns and had options available to them!
But now your baby is here, and the early days and weeks of parenthood are like a time warp! Surprisingly your memories of birth will begin to fade quickly (birth hormones, they addle our brains in the most brilliant way. I remember feeling totally high and detached at times, yet fully present and in control!), but those you hold remain crystal clear and detailed. It common to feel like you don't know where to begin, what to include or leave out, or how to stop once the flow gets going! Fear not - I've got some handy hints for writing your birth story up, and some useful prompts on what to include.
You don't have to use all of these, or any of these in fact, you can of course add things not mentioned here too - this is your birth story baby, write it as you see fit!
Keep notes during pregnancy, the good, the bad and the ugly! (You'll thank me later, honestly)
Consider filming your birth, or hiring a birth photographer such as Mia.
Jot down the key points ASAP after birth - ask others who were there with you too. It's fascinating to see how differently everyone in the room perceived the same experience and its highly unlikely you'll have any concept of timings - phone messages, notes and photos (yours and / or your partner, doula or midwife) will help piece things back together too.
Theres nothing too much, too little or too honest. Share as much or as little as feels authentic to you. Birth is often a primal, beautiful, joyful, exhilarating and euphoric time, but it's almost always spiked with some moments of fear, confusion and gruelling moment requiring deep determination - your story doesn't have to be all sunshine and roses. We want real, autonomous and powerful stories which show that it doesn't need to be 'perfect' to be exactly what you needed.
Writing prompts to help jog your memory or keep you on track:
Which number pregnancy is this - do you want to share a bit of info about your previous experiences?
Did you know your baby's gender?
What was this pregnancy like? The highlights, the challenges, the differences?
How did your body change?
Did you have any worries or concerns about pregnancy or birth?
How did you prepare for your birth, and how did it change your outlook on birth and the worries you previously had?
Where did you plan to give birth?
How did you prepare for the postnatal period?
What was your biggest learning moment, and what did pregnancy teach you about yourself?
What was the period of zwischen like for you?
Were there any early warning signs that labour would start?
Did you try any nudges to get things started? (natural, sweep or induction) If so, how was that experience? Would you do anything differently next time?
What gestation were you when your labour started?
Where were you / what were you doing when you realised things were starting?
How did it feel and how did you react?
How long did this stage last?
What was it like calling your birth partner / midwife / doula?
Did you change locations during early labour? If so, how was that?
If you went into the hospital or MLU, how did you find arriving and getting settled there?
Labour Builds in Intensity:
Who was with you? When did they come to join you?
Did you accept vaginal examinations? How were they? Did you find the info they provided you with helpful? Did they have an emotional impact?
What did your surges feel like? How frequently were they coming (if you know)?
How did you prepare your space? (ambient music, lighting, affirmations/pictures up, scents etc)
Where were you in your birth space (moving around, ball, pool, bathroom etc)?
What positions did you enjoy the most?
Which hypnobirthing / emotional / physical techniques helped the most? (breathing, massage, visualisation, music or scent anchors, TENS, pool etc)
Which techniques did you not enjoy, if any, and why?
What did you eat and drink in labour?
How and when did you rest?
What were you wearing - both in and out of the pool if relevant?
Did you use any pharmaceutical pain relief, or medicines to change your labour? If so, how did that feel physically and emotionally? Were you given enough information before making your choices? Would you do anything differently if there's another time?
What was the most physically challenging part of this labour? How did you get through it?
What was the most emotionally intense part of this labour? How did you get through it?
When did you feel most connected to your partner / baby / doula / midwife, and how did that feel?
Do you remember the point of transition and how that felt? How did you get through it?
How did your baby cope with labour?
What was / were the hardest decisions you had to make?
Birthing Your Baby:
Were you checked to see if you were fully dilated before starting to push?
Did you experience the foetal ejection reflex - how did it feel?
Where were you when you birthed your baby?
Did you guide your own pushing, or were you coached?
What position(s) did you choose to use?
How long did this stage last?
What did this stage feel like?
What, if anything, was on your mind as you pushed?
How did your birth team (partner, doula, midwives or anyone else present) encourage you? Did you find that helpful?
Did you have any interventions during this stage (episiotomy, forceps, ventouse etc)? If so, how did that feel physically and emotionally? Were you given enough information before making your choices? Would you do anything differently if there's another time?
How long did this stage last?
Assisted / Caesarean birth
Was your caesarean planned in pregnancy? If not, did you have a backup c-section plan in place, just in case?
What was going through your mind as you waited for the assistance?
How did it feel emotionally?
How did it feel physically?
What was the room like during the birth - atmosphere, music, chatter, lighting etc?
Who was present during the birth?
How did your birth team encourage and support you during the wait, and birth?
How long did this stage last?
Baby is Born:
What time and date was baby's birth?
What did it feel like to meet your baby for the very first time?
How did you react?
How did your partner react?
What was the first thing you said?
What did you baby look / sound / smell / feel like?
Did you have immediate skin to skin? If so how long for, and how did it feel?
Did you opt for a managed third stage (injection for the placenta)? If so, how did it make you feel, how long did the placenta take to come, do you feel you were informed ahead of deciding and would you do anything differently if there's a next time?
How long did you wait to cut the cord? Who cut the cord? Did you use a cord tie or plastic clamp? Would you do anything differently if there's a next time?
What did it feel like to birth the placenta?
Did you look at / keep / consume the placenta? Would you do anything differently if there's a next time?
Were there any complications / did you or baby need any medical support? If so, how did that feel?
What was it like to feed your baby for the first time?
What was the first thing you ate after birth? Did it taste like joy on a plate?!
How long did you stay in hospital / did your midwife or doula stay with you after?
Who were your first visitors and how did that feel?
Did you enlist any postnatal support (family, friends, or professional)? Would you do anything differently if there's a next time?
Wow - there's more there than even I expected to flow out when I started! Remember, they're just prompts, you can include anything you want to - this is your birth tale and we want it straight from the source!
If you worked with me to prepare for your birth I would LOVEEEE to share your story, and would be hugely appreciative of a review on Google, Facebook or sent directly to me to share - reviews help other parents work out who is going to support them best as they prepare for their upcoming birth!
If you're pregnant and seeking and incredible, inspiring and informative birth preparation - you can work with me 1:1, in group or online. You can even hire me as your Birth or Postnatal Doula to have my support on hand at all times, and in person when it matters most! Just drop me an email at email@example.com if you'd like to talk.