BIRTH STORIES MATTER
There tends to be this narrative, in conventional birth, that so long as the baby is birthed and stable, nothing else matters. But it does matter; it matters that the mother is honoured throughout the process. This doesn’t mean everything will go exactly the way she wants. It means that she is consulted and has agency. It means she has freedom of movement and positioning. It means she is not bullied, pressured or coerced into or out of interventions. It means she is supported and not rushed or shamed or abandoned. It means the staff are competent and culturally sensitive, that risks are properly assessed and avoidable mistakes are avoided. It means she is allowed to integrate the experience into her identity going forward and that she maintains power in the narrative.
Childbirth provides an enormous and rare opportunity to leave a mother feeling empowered in the ultimate sense. A birth day is one of the most significant, the most meaningful, days in a mother’s life and it is embedded deep in their memory. It is transformative, leaving no one the same after witnessing it. It has the potential to produce heightened positive feelings, such as love, pride and accomplishment. As such, it intrinsically carries a chance for heightened disappointment and wounding. It can be a scarring experience in many ways. It can produce deep wounds and lasting trauma. Shame on us, as a society, for diminishing the mother’s experience. Shame on us, for telling those mothers – the ones who were pushed to a mental breaking point, whose bodies were violently torn into, those who were emotionally alone or abandoned, those who were fearful in the midst of an emergency situation, the powerless and degraded, those made to feel guilty and a failure, who suffered because of human error – ‘The baby is okay. That’s all that matters.’ Mothers matter. Your experience matters.
Stories matter. They are personally and culturally significant. We connect through stories. We learn from stories. We are shaped by stories. We are honoured though our stories. We find meaning through our stories. We empower others with our stories. We are our stories. So, mamas, tell your stories. Share them with your family and your children. Share them with your friends. Share them with your community and your healthcare team. Tell them truthfully. Tell them how you were in awe of the power of your body. Tell them you were stronger than you imagined you could be. Tell them your heart exploded. Also, tell them the stories that left you feeling violated, damaged, defeated and hopeless. Tell the stories of the babies that were breach and stuck and the angels that were lost. Tell the stories about the fear and confusion and the inexplicable pain. Tell the stories of the triumph and otherworldliness and inexplicable joy. You birth story is powerful, and so are you.