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Writing your birth story

Our stories are powerful, and birth stories even more so. During pregnancy I devoured the birth stories of Ina May's Guide to Childbirth . They were an antidote to the portrayal of birth I had been exposed to via television and other mass media. Unlike the labouring women rescued by the miracle of the medical model, Ina May's women were testimony to the miracle of birth itself. This is not to say that there weren't complications of baby's position, or transfers from home to hospital in some cases. It's not to dismiss the place of well timed interventions in necessary cases.

But rather these stories began with the premise that birth was a natural physiological event that occasionally required medical assistance, rather than a medical event that usually necessitated medical intervention.

A birth story can show a way through fear to calm for those who are anxious, another story can help the teller (or the listener) to process a birth experience. They can remind of us of a shared history, a passing down of wisdom through the ages. Where our ancestors shared stories around the fire, we now have the opportunity to share through social media, podcasts, and story through images online if we wish.

"Write what should not be forgotten"- Isabel Allende

You might want to write it down as a keepsake for yourself, as a way to process aspects of the experience, maybe you want to share it with others or with your kids someday. Maybe you have a baby in your arms and the memory is strong, maybe it was years ago and you'd like to revisit it! It may prompt you to speak with a professional to debrief- there are many different reasons to get it down in some way.

I love this quote accredited to Joan Didion. I write sometimes to work through a muddle of thoughts, to uncover the truth underneath. The memory of birth may be hazy, with SO many emotions tied up together (sometimes apparently conflicting ones). Writing can help to process or order these thoughts a little.

"I don't know what I think until I write about it" - Joan Didion

Some tips below on how to approach writing your birth story. 💛 Make a little time and space for you to do this. Where you have a chance to reflect uninterrupted for a short time. Strong emotions can come up and its ideal if you have a little space to process them. Be kind to yourself whatever comes up. Plan to do something nurturing for yourself after- just taking thing gently and allowing the emotions to settle down. 💛Tap into the senses, recalling what your saw, heard, smelt, touched and tasted during this time. Maybe there are photos, or other visual references. Was there music? A relaxation or hypnobirthing track you listened to? What did you eat, drink? Were there particular scents you remember- essential oils etc? 💛Write, without editing, without censoring yourself. Start at the beginning, or the middle. Write long descriptive sentences, or write short bullet points or words. Draw if like, record yourself speaking... whatever works for you. 💛Piece together a timeline if you like, maybe using medical notes if you have them, or notes from a doula or midwife. Talk to other people who were with you. Remember what happened at the different stages of labour, where you were, how you managed, what decisions had to be made. 💛Note any moments, decisions, thoughts that stood out.Like how did you feel the moment you saw your baby? 💛Revise or edit if you like after a break of a few days. 💛Share it only if you feel like doing that, and with people you trust. If anything difficult comes up, try to reach out to someone you trust to chat about it. (And I love a birth story ☺ so feel free to share with me if you want!)

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