When I was expecting my first baby, I read other women’s birth stories hoping to get an idea of what to expect and to ease my anxiety for the big day. After becoming a mother, I appreciated those stories even more because now I had a basis for understanding the experience of birth in a way that I never had before.
Around here, we love reading and sharing birth stories. That’s probably a bit of an understatement actually. At last count, we’ve collected 72 birth stories here on the blog, submitted by readers and fellow bloggers. Wow!
Read the latest birth stories in this ongoing series.
So I think it’s time to pass along some of the things I’ve learned from all the stories shared here. If you’ve always wanted to write your birth story but just needed a little nudge or some guidance, read on for some tips and writing prompts to help you get started.
Why Write Your Birth Story?
The birth of your child is one of the most momentous occasions in your life. It certainly was for me. The day your child is born changes you in ways you can’t even begin to understand at the time. Writing it down keeps the memory fresh forever, whether you share it with others or keep it just for yourself.
Many women find writing out their story also helps them work through negative feelings they might be holding onto, as well as celebrating their life giving accomplishment.
When Should You Write Your Story?
The sooner you write your birth story, the better. Get it down as quickly as you can! It’s easy to forget the details, especially in the middle of all the chaos that comes with a new baby. If you’re not in the right space to write your story yet, then take some notes so you have the details at hand when you do decide to write it.
Even if it’s been months or years since the birth, it’s never too late. Write what you remember. More details may come to you as you write, and your partner may remember things you don’t. Even if every tiny detail isn’t there, write about what you do remember.
Questions to Keep in Mind While You’re Writing
Consider these questions and prompts as you write your birth story. Not all of these will be relevant to you so don’t feel like you need to address all of them, but they may be helpful in remembering the details and getting your story down from start to finish.
- Give your birth some context by starting with a little about your pregnancy. Did you use reproductive technology? How did you feel when you first discovered you were pregnant? How and when did you share the news?
- Did you experience any complications or memorable symptoms during your pregnancy? What happened?
- Did you find out the baby’s sex ahead of time?
- How many weeks and days along were you when labour started? What were you doing when you first started feeling contractions? What did they feel like?
- If your labour was induced, how far along were you and why? How did the contractions feel?
- Where did you give birth and who was present? Remember to include your care providers.
- If you had a partner present, what did they say and do in the delivery room?
- Include as much detail about your labour as makes sense to you. How far apart were your contractions? How long was each stage of labour? How did transition feel? How long did you push?
- If you gave birth vaginally, what position(s) did you labour in? Did you labour in water?
- What interventions, if any, did you have? (E.g., induction, epidural, episiotomy, IV fluids, artificial rupture of membranes, external or internal fetal monitoring, forceps, or vacuum extraction.) How did you feel about it?
- If you had a c-section, was it planned or an emergency? What did you think and how did you feel when you were brought into the operating room? What do you remember of the surgery?
- Were there any complications during delivery? What happened?
- Who caught the baby?
- If you didn’t find out the sex earlier, who announced it at delivery?
- Describe the moment you first saw your child. What did you do and how did you feel?
- Did your baby require any medical interventions after delivery? Did they have to stay in the NICU?
- Did you have any complications or require any interventions after delivery? (E.g., tears and/or stitches, hemorrhage, infection, etc.)
- How long did you stay at the hospital after the delivery? Who came to visit?
- What did you think and how did you feel when you went home from the hospital?
- If you had a home birth, what did you think and how did you feel when the midwife left?
- Note anything else significant that happened the day of your child’s birth.
Now that you’ve written your birth story, what should you do with it?
Most of us write our stories on a computer. Consider re-writing yours out by hand and sealing it in an envelope to give to your child when he or she turns 18 or when they’re about to become a parent themselves.
Set up your child’s first email address (gmail is a good choice) and email the story to them so it’s waiting in their inbox when they’re older.
Every year on my children’s birthdays, I make a point of retelling them their birth stories. They love hearing about the day they were born, despite hearing it over and over again.
Keep it just for you to read whenever you like or file it away for later.
There’s something so special about being invited in to hear someone else’s story and thoughts about the most important day in her life. Consider sharing your story with other mothers here on This West Coast Mommy! Email your story along with any photos of your pregnancy, labour, delivery, and newborn baby that you feel comfortable sharing to firstname.lastname@example.org.