Everybody who knows me well knows there is nothing I love talking about more than pregnancy and birth. That’s because, for me, pregnancy and birth are everyday miracles by which I am continually astounded.
As a former labour and delivery nurse, I had the privilege of sharing incredibly beautiful moments with women becoming mamas, and their partners becoming parents. Each morning, as I’d walk home from a long night shift, I felt so moved by these individuals as they lived their own birth stories.
Here’s the thing: childbirth itself is not unique. Countless babies are born every day, in much the same way as each other. Yet, it is incredible that every single one of us has an entirely unique birth story to tell. Our experiences of pregnancy and childbirth may or may not be easy. They may happen exactly as planned or not at all the way we hoped or expected. But one way or another, our experiences are OURS—and they deserve to be remembered, celebrated and shared as such.
When teaching prenatal classes now, I place a big emphasis on fostering a safe space for expectant couples to open up. I want them to share their questions, fears, vulnerabilities and joys surrounding pregnancy, birth and the transition to parenthood. That’s because, while we might be curious about the medical facts surrounding these marvels, we must not forget about the wealth of knowledge that lies within all of our own lived experiences. As new mamas, talking about and sharing our birth stories can have many benefits.
It might seem surprising, but the clarity of our childbirth experiences fades over time. Childbirth is magical, it is life-changing, and it is intense. But within all of that intensity, the little details that we long to hold on to may be lost. As I approached the end of my own pregnancy, I remember a colleague telling me about parenthood, “The days are long, but the years are short” and this has definitely proven to be true.
We experience this deeply powerful event of becoming a mama and then, somehow, the minutia of how it all happened becomes less vivid. Sharing our birth stories allows us to document those little details and commit them to memory. So in the early postpartum days, if your mind wanders back to your labour and birth, try writing them down in a journal. Share your thoughts with your partner, a family member, a friend, or anyone else with whom you feel comfortable. Document it however it feels natural to you. The beauty in your story deserves to be remembered.
For many of us, childbirth is one of the most transformative events in our lives. Some birth stories match what we envision for ourselves, while others are completely unlike what we anticipated. It is so important for us to hold a space for any feelings that come up as we process our unique experiences. There may even be some aspects that surprise us.
In reflecting back, we might discover details we are still wondering about, and perhaps don’t understand. We might recognize what or who we feel particular gratitude towards, or the parts of our birth experiences that made us feel uncomfortable or scared. I encourage you to reflect, to cry, to celebrate, and to feel all of the feelings that come up for you. No matter how your birth story unfolded, it is powerful and it is how YOU became a mama!
Throughout my pregnancy, I found comfort in talking to my own mother about her pregnancies and listening to her birth stories. I never grew tired of hearing about the little details in her experiences, even multiple times over. In a way, my mother’s stories represented this unspoken knowledge, courage and strength that she was now passing on to me as I embarked on my own unique journey.
By sharing our birth stories, we cultivate connection between all mamas and mamas-to-be. It allows each of us to contribute our own narratives, with all of the knowledge, courage and strength inherent within them, to a larger interconnected web of support that will inevitably touch another mother—a sister, a friend, a daughter, and so forth.
This is perhaps the most important benefit—because yes, mama, you absolutely are a warrior! So from one mama to another, I say share your story and all of the beauty that lies within it. It is unique and it is yours.
Prenatal Registered NursePUSH Mama Care Inc.
Rebecca is a registered nurse with a Life Sciences degree from Queen’s and a Nursing degree from the University of Toronto. Since graduating, she has gained years of professional expertise as a labour and delivery nurse at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, and as a fertility nurse at Seattle Reproductive Medicine. Rebecca is passionate about educating and supporting women during this overwhelming and wonderful experience, and understands it first-hand as a mother herself. She is also devoted to helping develop a strong sense of community for upcoming and new mamas.
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