I am riveted by them. There are few moments that are more powerful to me than sitting across from a loved one, dear friend, student, even an acquaintance who shares the story of her baby’s birth. Birth is such a portal, a passage, an experience, regardless of the path it takes.
Of course, I also listened to my fair share of birth stories on podcasts and followed Insta handles in preparation for my son’s birth two years ago, and continued this interest long after he was born to help process my own birth experience. I am seriously grateful for the Empowered Birth Project and Maga Mama and Gail Tully and Birth Without Fear for sharing their [sometimes amazingly graphic] wells of knowledge, and for the many women who have shared their birth stories in newsletters, blog posts, and interviews.
BUT…I’m noticing a birth story trend and perhaps you are, too…
I’m noticing that within hours of a baby’s birth, pictures or stories are posted announcing the news, which is lovely and exciting for family and friends and followers. And then there’s the line, “Birth story to come soon.”
Why is that line so troubling? Every woman and womb carrier has the right to share her birth story and it may be incredibly powerful, magical, healing, and soulful. And, when we share our birth stories, they no doubt support other women in their journeys, too. For what seems like centuries, birth has been shrouded in mystery and treated so medically, and I love that we’re sharing knowledge of this biological process in a way that celebrates, supports, and protects mothers and their babies.
And yet, I cannot help but think there is a pressure to share your experience with the world rather quickly.
I want you to know that there is no rush to share you and your baby’s birth story. What’s more important is giving yourself the time to process it in all its sacredness.
Why is it important to process your birth story?
Like any major life event, birth deserves reflection. When processing your birth experience, you can give space to all of the emotions that might have been present before, during, and right after birth. Often, these emotions feel conflicting and confusing. As you reflect on your story, try not to judge, but allow, accept, and honor each emotion like a guest in your home.
Emotions can only be stuffed down below the surface for so long, especially the harder ones (grief, fear, anger, distress). These emotions can burst forth in moments of frustration postpartum and even years later. In yoga therapy, emotions can also take up space in the physical body, leading to aches and pains or troubles with healing. Give yourself space to let everything bubble to the surface - the happy, the sad, the scary, the enlightening.
Birth is sacred and there is beauty in every story, even when there is trauma. I’ve personally written that birth for me was like a portal, a connection between this world and another. As with many memories, over time they fade. By processing your birth story either through talking, writing, or visual art, you’re commemorating the experience, perhaps even celebrating it. You remember your own sacredness, strength, and worthiness.
Processing your birth story gives to your child. As babies grow, they often want to hear the story of their birth. It’s important to them to know how they entered this world. Reflecting early on will ingrain the memory in your mind.
As you may gather, taking time to process your birth is incredibly healing. It can be challenging, yes, but with the right support, it is possible. With social media, influencers, bloggers, podcasts, and the incessant flow of news, it can feel like there is a rush to get the story out about your birth. THERE IS NO RUSH. EVER. You can decide what you share, where you share, and how you share it if ever.
I recommend processing your birth with your partner, a trusted talk therapist, a yoga therapist, doula, postpartum doula, midwife, trusted friend or loved one, someone who will hold the space for you. Someone who will allow you to feel and say all that you need to without any reference to “At least you and your baby are healthy.” This is a blessing, yes, but not helpful.
You are allowed to feel whatever it is you want, to process however you need to. Write the story in a journal. Paint a picture. Move the story through your body. Talk about it. Cry if you need to. Laugh. Look at pictures during birth and after. And, remember, no one else needs to hear your story now or ever. And, if you do share your story, perhaps share it at a time when you know you are fully healed [mentally and/or physically] from your birth experience. Telling your story on your terms can be a huge gift to others about to give birth, too. Take care of you first, though, okay?
P.S. If you’re interested in writing your birth story, please check out this fabulous article from Birthing From Within. If you need further assistance processing your birth experience emotionally, mentally, or physically, please let me know. Yoga therapy might be able to help.
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I share encouraging, informative, and down to earth messages, each with a healthy dose of humor and honesty. Basically, the kind of thing I'd want to read during pregnancy and later postpartum...because gosh motherhood is confusing. When you subscribe, you'll receive my messages on What I wish I would've known before baby & a quick guide on the Yoga poses to avoid during pregnancy.