This photo is me as a newborn, I recently found some family photos after talking with my parents about my birth story. During prenatal visits and in the childbirth class I help teach we talk about our family history of birth, as I believe it very much shapes our perceptions of birth - and it can shape our birth, too. Not just the physical inheritance - our body type, our pelvic shape, our labor progress. It also shapes us emotionally - if we anticipate pain and suffering or if we view birth as a natural experience that's hard, but doable. If a woman comes from a long history of complicated and high risk births or if there are many in her family birthing by cesarean then you can bet that's going to be in on her mind during her pregnancy. Where we birthed is shaped by this, the care provider we choose, the coping techniques we plan to use. So much of our experience of birth will be shaped by what we grew up hearing about birth.
Do you know YOUR birth story? (If not, go ask!!)
Do you know your parents' birth stories? I just this year read my grandmother's journal account of my father's arrival - it was so neat, and I just wanted more and more details!
Do you have siblings who have birthed? Close friends?
Each of these stories gets into our subconscious and influences how we perceive birth - if it is "safe", if it's messy, if it's empowering or humbling or awkward or amazing.
Not just from our family, but from our friends and the media and random strangers rubbing your belly and sharing their birth stories in the grocery store. But why is it that the stories we seem to hear are always negative? Why are people not sharing their amazing, glorious, fantastic, beautiful birth stories? THEY SHOULD BE! And if you have a birth story that was positive then share it! (If you are experiencing trauma after a rough birth then please, please talk to someone about it - but please be cautious about NOT trying to process it with someone expecting.) Pregnant women need to gestate in peace (GIP) and that means hearing stories of births that were respected and supported, no matter where or how that played out. I've been to cesareans that were so beautiful and sacred that there were tears of joy and such a sweet spirit in the room. I've been to hospital births that were gorgeous and touched my soul. Birth is not about the location, it's about how the mom is treated through the experience.
I've been reflecting lately on the birth legacy I'm sharing with my children. They all know we've and a variety of birth locations and types - hospital, birth center, home, vaginal, cesarean, VBAC, epidural, general anesthesia, meds free, land and water birth! But I want my children to know that I loved them ALL. Each had something fantastic about it besides the super cute baby I got. 🙂 Each changed me forever in so many ways and I've learned so much from the journey.
That's your homework assignment - go find out YOUR birth story, and those of your parents. Record them somewhere so that one day you can share them with your children, too.