why and how to write your birth story
Have you ever thought about writing out your birth story?
When baby arrives, life becomes a whirlwind of events. You’re up all day and night bringing your milk supply in as baby cluster feeds and you hardly remember to get some sleep when baby is sleeping.
The next thing you know 6 weeks have gone by.
Details from your baby’s birth might begin to fade as you become all-consumed with everything else going on. Other things start occupying your mind like:
How many times did baby poop today?
Is my baby getting enough to eat?
When was the last time I showered?
If you didn’t hire a Birth Photographer to capture all of the details, writing your story might be another option to consider.
You’ve experienced one of the most important days of your life. It was powerful, it was scary, it was emotional, maybe it was sad.
The older your baby gets, you are still struggling to find time to shower and feed yourself, much less sit down and write an emotional story about your baby’s birth. Plus, what if you’re not a writer?
You don’t have to be a talented writer to write your birth story! You don’t even have to share it with anyone. If you’re self-conscious about grammar mistakes because you used the voice recorder on your phone to make notes about your baby’s birth, who cares!
WHY WRITE YOUR BIRTH STORY?
To remember. As intense as birth can be, it’s like any other memory - it will fade. You might still remember the day clearly, but as time moves on, the details will be lost. Maybe everything happened so fast, or it’s all a blur. Either way, getting it on paper (or writing a document) as soon as possible will help to solidify the details.
When I tell people I’m a Birth Photographer, I often hear:
“I wish I knew about you when I had my last baby!”
You don’t want to lose one bit of information about your baby’s birth:
So. Write. It. Down!
The number one reason to write your birth story is to remember it.
To process. Listen. My birth did NOT happen the way I wanted. I had a birthing pool all ready to go at my home, and I would dream of labouring in the comfort of my living room, surrounded by familiarity.
But my daughter had different plans and I ended up having a belly birth with her.
Writing down your story can help you process what happened and come to terms with your experience. It might make you feel better about the way things happened. Recording a timeline of events can provide clarity and order to what otherwise seems like a cluttered mess of emotions and half-remembered events.
If you suffered any birth trauma or are grieving over a less-than-ideal experience, this could be a way to help heal. Writing your story can help you reclaim your birth and make it your own. It might help you to move forward.
To plan for the future. Maybe you’re planning on having more children. Writing down the details could benefit a future you! Every pregnancy, labour and birth are different, but you can figure out what worked well or what you’d like to change.
Maybe this time you want to try a home birth.
Reflecting on your birth might help you to anticipate the kind of support you would want during a future birth and/or postpartum period.
For your children. For my daughter’s first Christmas, I thought long and hard about what I could gift her that would be special. I didn’t want it to be a toy, clothes, or something else that didn’t matter. So I decided to write her a letter. She’s not allowed to open that letter until she turns 25.
There wasn’t anything overly special about the letter. It was mainly about what was happening and who was doing what while I was writing it. I wanted it to draw a picture in her mind of what her first Christmas was like with myself, her dad and our family.
Writing your birth story could serve the same purpose for your children. Imagine when they get a bit older - and can appreciate such a thing - you let them read their birth story.
What an incredible gift.
HOW TO WRITE YOUR BIRTH STORY
Start with the facts.
This is the who, what, when and where. Include who was present, the type of birth you had, where you laboured, where baby was born, and of course your baby’s stats!
Use your medical records for a basic timeline and to document how it went down.
Colour with details.
Set the scene. What was the weather like? How did labour start? What did you say to your husband as you went through transition? It’s the little details that you’ll treasure in the long run.
Consider the five senses. Did you eat in labour? Were you diffusing any essential oils to set a mood? What else did you see, feel and hear?
Ask your birth support team (husband, doula, mother, midwife, friend) for their take. They might remember details that you don’t. They can describe your own strength or the look on your face in your “I did it!” moment better than you would be able to.
Talk about emotion.
This is where you can process, analyze and preserve the emotions of the day.
This is a great time to look back on any photos of the birth you might have had. It can stir up the same emotions you felt in labour to help you get them down on paper.
YES, BUT HOW DO I WRITE MY STORY?
Any way you want! But, here are some ideas that might resonate with you.
Stream of consciousness. Just start writing. What do you remember most? Was it when baby was placed on your chest? Start there and work your way backward or forward. The point is to just start somewhere. Getting started like this can open the floodgates for the rest of the story to flow. Don’t worry about it being polished, just write what comes to mind. You can edit later!
A letter to your baby. Much like the idea above with the Christmas letter to my daughter, you could do the same thing for your baby. If you intend on sharing the story with your child at some point, this can be a great idea.
Record your story as audio. How cool would it be to listen many years down the road of your own voice and the emotions of telling your birth story? Try not to be too hard on yourself (we all hate the way we sound in audio recording) - it’s about the story being told! This might also be a much quicker way for you to tell the story in between finding time to shower or get a meal for yourself with a newborn!