It’s 2:03 in the afternoon. A new mom rocks her baby, piles of laundry on the couch next to her, daytime TV buzzing in her ear. She closes her eyes, and her mind drifts back to her recent birth experience. As the daydream takes shape, she feels a phantom contraction in her pelvic region. Her body remembers her birth story. Moments later, she feels a tightness in her chest. She quickly tries to block out the anxiety building up in her body.
What Is Birth Story Reclamation?
Birth stories, like any life-altering narrative, are something we carry with us. They can feel light or heavy. They can be a string of fairytale-like moments or a wild medical drama. Birth stories, especially when difficult or traumatic, can feel challenging to process and are often something we try to avoid thinking about altogether.
The Benefits of Reclaiming Your Birth Story
Reclaiming your birth story offers many benefits that can positively impact your emotional wellbeing, sense of empowerment, and relationships. Firstly, by revisiting and reframing your birth experience, you can gain a deeper understanding of the emotions and thoughts that may be hiding in your subconscious. By taking the time to pause and reflect on your unique birth story, you can find a place of peace and contentment that you may not have believed was possible.
Secondly, reclaiming your birth story can empower you to regain control over how you perceive your story, reducing any potential feelings of victimization or frustrations with yourself and how things played out during delivery. This clarity can extend beyond your birth experience, shifting your confidence and decision-making abilities.
Fortunately, this was my experience. Following the challenging birth of my son in 2014, I started on a path of transformation and healing by redefining my birth story. Reclaiming my birth story not only provided me with renewed clarity but also empowered me to forge ahead, taking the bold step to transition from my professional career to embracing my passion for becoming a work-from-home mom. Through reclaiming your birth story, transformations like this are possible for you, too!
Writing Your Birth Story
One effective way to reclaim your birth story is through writing it. There are three different methods I recommend when writing your story.
The first is to write your story from the heart. If writing comes easily, open a notebook or doc on your computer and begin telling the story. You get to choose the beginning. Your birth story might begin with your journey to conception, or you might want to start your story the moment your contractions first began. You can also consider including parts of your postpartum experience, including the moment you first met your baby, your feeding journey, and any other pieces that stand out to you.
The second method starts by creating an outline, drafting, and finally, writing a final version of your story, including all the above mentioned elements.
Finally, the third option I recommend is best suited for anyone whose birth isn’t fresh in their memory or if you want to write a thorough version of your birth story. In this case, I recommend starting by outlining your story and then inserting additional information using the list of prompts found in this article. Once you’ve created an outline, you can draft your story and write the final version.
Birth Story Prompts to Consider:
Reflect on the love and support you received (or, perhaps, did not receive) from family, friends, or your community in the days following birth.
Describe your physical and emotional journey in the days and weeks after giving birth.
Using Ritual to Reclaim Your Birth Story
Another way to reclaim your birth story is through ritual. For some people, rituals can be used as a healing intervention and have a profound impact on reconciling hurt and pain to transform the experience into a source of strength. Rituals offer a structured and symbolic means to honor the transformative journey of childbirth. They create a sacred space for introspection, healing, and empowerment, allowing individuals to connect with the emotional and spiritual aspects of their journey. Through carefully crafted rituals, individuals can release any lingering trauma or negative emotions associated with their birth story while celebrating the strength and resilience that birth embodies. Some rituals you may want to consider exploring are a closing of the bones ceremony, a cord-cutting ceremony, or a yoni steaming ceremony.
When participating in a closing of the bones ceremony, a doula, midwife, or friend will wrap you in blankets or a rebozo and then rock you back and forth gently. A pelvic massage usually follows this.
The purpose of a cord-cutting ceremony is to help you sever any energetic ties that bind you to other people who may have been involved with your birth, specific situations related to your birth, or harmful things that are draining your energy or no longer serving you.
Last, a yoni steaming ceremony releases and rejuvenates the body. The woman sits over a steaming pot filled with a specific blend of herbs meant to heal the body and help her spirituality, mental health, and physical wellbeing return to a place of alignment.
Finding Expert Assistance to Reclaim Your Birth Story
If you experienced a traumatic birth or had an experience that did not go according to your vision or plan, it can sometimes feel like opening Pandora’s box to start reclaiming your birth story. Because of this, it can be helpful to have a virtual or in-person guide to support you through this life-changing and transformative work. Once you have decided that you are ready to make peace with how your childbirth went so that you can move forward with new clarity, you may want to consider working with someone who is certified in birth story listening who can help you process your birth.
Another option is to seek out treatment for postpartum depression and/or postpartum anxiety. There are mental health professionals, including counselors, psychologists, and psychiatrists, who specialize in supporting individuals through the transition into motherhood.
The Global Impact of Reclaiming Your Birth Story
Reclaiming our birth stories creates the potential to perpetuate a far-reaching global shift, promising enhancements both at person-to-personal encounters and more broadly. As we wholeheartedly embrace and openly share our distinct birth journeys, we nurture a profound sense of interconnection and empathy that spans cultures and generations. This act of reclamation assumes the role of an empowering catalyst, providing women with a secure space to process their birth narratives.
The result of this is the possibility of minimizing the inadvertent emotional burden often imposed on expectant mothers. This shift towards portraying birth stories as sources of spiritual significance and profound impact rather than fear-laden anecdotes opens avenues for educational initiatives and advocacy, thus paving the way for a positive transformation in birthing practices and experiences.
Learn more about loving and caring for your postpartum body.