When I was expecting my first baby I read birth stories almost every day. I was nervous and excited about what was to come and in an effort to calm myself and not freak out on absolutely everyone I tried to understand what the process of birth was going to be like for me.
And I think most of us can relate, I appreciate those stories so much more now that I have had one and am approaching my second birth. While the mechanics may be the same this time around I expect the experience will differ.
One of the greatest things I feel I did for myself was write my first birth story, and while those first few days with our new baby were crazy and exciting and a tad sleep deprived I managed to make some notes of what I went through. If you want to read the details of My First Birth Story, feel free.
And while I highly recommend that those first days and weeks after giving birth you take the time to rest and recover I think you may also find it deeply meaningful and empowering to create a record of your birth(s). It can have a strong impact on how you look back and remember the events that lead to meeting your little one(s) for the first time.
Why would you write a birth story?
Honestly, this will vary from person to person. Some women experience traumatic births, and writing out the story can help in processing and healing from the impact that has on their lives.
Sometimes we simply don’t want to forget the little things that happened on that day or the thoughts we had in quiet moments between the work. Or maybe there is something amazing that stands out for you like hubby forgetting the car seat at home or some moment when you had an incredibly profound connection to your own body.
For myself, I wrote my story mostly because I felt empowered to be myself again because of my story and I wanted a reminder I could go back to over and over to read and re-read about the amazing connection I made within myself while giving birth.
And there is no denying that the birth of a child is one of the most momentous occasions in our lives. Our children’s birth day’s change us in ways we can’t begin to understand until much later, and writing the story means you can keep it fresh in your memory, whether you share it or keep it for yourself.
When is it best to write your Birth Story?
The sooner the better! Birth involves a LOT of hormones, and especially a couple of good dumps of adrenaline, which can cause your memory of an event to fade over time.
Getting the story down, even in point form will help you go back and fill in details later if needed. And it’s especially important in the middle of all the newborn chaos that comes with the joy of your little bundle arriving.
I can totally understand not being in the right headspace to write your story though (seriously adapting to a new baby is a lot of work) make point form notes of what you remember when you can. More details may come up as you write and others around you may fill in some information of what they remember too.
Should you ask others to help you write your story?
Personally I asked everyone involved to help me write mine the first time and I plan to do it again.
From our Doula and Midwife to my Husband I had a total of 3 people in the room with me at delivery and I asked them ALL for what they remembered. There were some things I totally missed (focused elsewhere) and somethings I remembered one aspect of that they filled in the other parts of.
But ultimately it is up to you, and who you have access to. Sometimes when you sit down to write or take notes some of the medical staff may not be available to ask, but if you have a doula or a partner you may want to ask them how things went from their perspective.
Prompts that could help while writing your birth story
Not all of these will work for all stories, so if you see one that doesn’t make sense for you feel free to skip it! Remember this story is for YOU. But they may be helpful in reminding you of details and getting your experience clarified in writing.
- How did you get pregnant?
If you used medical help like IVF or Medication it can impact how you felt throughout the pregnancy and how the labor went too.
- Were there any memorable symptoms during your pregnancy? Complications? Special Events?
- Did you know the baby’s gender before giving birth? Why/Why Not?
- How far along were you in Weeks/Days when labour began?
- What were you doing when you felt the first contraction?
- What did contractions feel like for you?
- If you were induced, how far along were you and why were you induced? How did those contractions feel?
- Where did you give birth? Home, Birth Centre or Hospital?
- Who was with you during labor?
- Who was with you at the birth?
- If your partner was present what did they say/do? How did they support you? Did they get in the way at any point?
- Include as much detail about your labour as you want/like. Things like how far apart contractions were, or how long each stage of labour was and how it felt for you.
- What positions did you labour in?
- What tools did you use? Shower/Tub, birthing ball, or birthing stool, leaning on your partner etc.
- How did transition feel? How long did you push?
- If you had a c-section, was it an emergency or planned? How do you feel about that? How did you feel when you were brought into the operating room? What do you remember of the surgery? Did you feel anything during the delivery?
- If you gave birth vaginally what position did you deliver in? Did you catch your baby or someone else?
- What interventions (if any) did you have?
Epidural, episiotomy, IV Fluids, artificial rupture of membranes, fetal monitoring (internal/external)
- Were there any complications during delivery? What happened?
- If you didn’t know the gender who announced it?
- Describe the moment you first saw your child. What did you do and how did you feel?
- Did baby need any medical assistance/interventions after delivery? Did they stay in the NICU?
- Did you have any medical assistance/interventions after delivery?
Tears, and/or stitches, hemorrhage, infections, etc
- If you delivered at a hospital or Birth Centre how long did you stay after delivery?
- How did you feel when you went home? What were you thinking?
- If you birthed at home how did you feel when the midwife/doula left?
- Note anything and everything that you think is significant that happened the day of your child’s birth.
What to do with your story
Once it’s written (you can always go back and edit/revise if you choose to) the question becomes what to do with it?
There are lots of ideas out there and of course, you are certainly welcome to share all or part of your story with me at any time. Or you could keep it in a keepsake box/journal for your enjoyment later on.
Some mothers also like to handwrite a copy out for the child and give it to them when they are older or about to have their own children.
I’ve also heard of people opening an email address for their kids and emailing it to them then giving them the password to the email when they are older (this is usually followed up with other emails of interesting stories or details as the child grows but you don’t have to).
And some tell the story to their children on their birth days.
Of course, there is also the wonderful option of keeping it for yourself to read whenever you like or file it away for later.
There is truly something special about being invited to hear someone else’s story and thoughts about a major and important day in their lives. And I would be deeply honored if you shared yours with me!