Do you have a positive birth story to share?
Positive birth experiences need space and acknowledgement too. Why? Your positive story may be a personal triumph over your fears and anxieties, moving past a previous negative birth, dealing with the loss of a baby or other complex feelings and difficulties. Your positive birth deserves to be acknowledged and heard in the same way as those who experienced trauma and loss.
It's hard to believe, but parents often feel guilty about sharing positive stories. Of course, in sharing your own positive story, you don't want to make others feel bad if they had a negative experience. If you are hearing someone else's story, remember that their story is not a judgement or critique of you or your story. If you feel that way, it is important that you find a safe space to share and heal from your own experience.
If you share your story and you feel judged negatively as a result, maybe someone has heard your story as a criticism of their story, even though that wasn't your intention. Remember that kind of response is about the other person's own unresolved feelings. They need space to heal. Telling one's story is about articulating, accepting, finding peace. And it can also be about celebrating your own journey and experience.
Sharing positive birth experiences has the power to transform how those around you approach birth. Positive Birth groups are 100% committed to this. FInd your own wonderful safe place to get support for all of your choices and all of your experiences. Facilitators of these groups are registered with the PBM and are responsible for creating that confidential, non-judgemental space for the parents that attend the meetings.
Mindset is a powerful thing. Going into birth well-informed, prepared and supported can make even the most sudden change of birth plan more manageable. I've had clients unexpectedly need to be induced or have an emergency c-section, but because of good preparation and support they are able to report these births as positive experiences, even though things did not go to the original 'plan'.
'Holding Space' and Feeling Safe
In the birth professional world, we talk about 'holding space' for our clients. This means providing a space for you that feels safe, where parents feel 'held' and able to be and express what they need to, in whatever shape or words that comes. For mothers and fathers alike, creating a safe space where they are completely accepted and respected can be the first important step towards healing.
It's a big responsibility to hold space for those sharing birth trauma and loss, and even positive experiences. Any good birth professional understands the importance of being able to listen without judgement, without inserting one's own feelings or experience, and always with unconditional love and compassion. This is what my ZenBirth team and I are committed to, and it's what we put into everything we do to help parents on their journey to meeting their babies.
My experience of hearing and listening to birth stories is that it is incredibly moving and has helped me to grow personally and professionally. I have observed the process of parents releasing negative emotions around previous birth experiences. Liberating oneself from these things can help couples acknowledge what went well during the birth and how joyful it was to welcome their child into the world, at the same time as recognising reasons why the delivery did not go as planned and eventually coming to a point of acceptance and peace. Talking things through helps you to both gain clarity and lift the burden of those negative feelings and emotions.
Whoever you share your story with, it is important that you feel listened to and that the person is committed to holding space for you that is safe, confidential, non-judgemental and truly focussed on you. Remember there is always support out there, whether you are a parent or a birth professional, or both. There are some organisations listed below that provide excellent information and support.
Wishing you well. Remember that you and your story matter, always.
- Birth Trauma Association
- SANDS (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society)
- Positive Birth Movement
- Beautiful Birth Stories
Gina Potts is Director of ZenBirth UK. She comes from an academic research background, focusing on women's history, writing and feminism. Since 2009 has spent much of her time researching into all aspects of maternity care, pregnancy, birth and women’s postnatal health. In 2011, she founded ZenBirth and has helped hundreds of couples have a positive birth experience.