During my pregnancy and since the birth of my son, I have discovered a new community, a new ’cause’, which has become very important to me. I believe that our culture needs to address its approach to pregnancy and in particular, to birth. The fundamental need is for a truer representation of birth to be shared via word-of-mouth, the media, everywhere.
Women who have had a really positive birthing experience believe themselves to be in the minority and it can feel smug to talk about what an incredible time they had. I should know, I had a profoundly calm and beautiful birthing of my son and I have had to really force myself to talk about it authentically and openly, and to express the happiness it brought me. (To be clear, I am writing here about the particular happiness that a positive birth experience can have. The happiness that arrives thanks to having a healthy baby in your arms is indeed the most important aspect of birth and is not in question but, for most of us, it is not the only important aspect).
So, it feels awkward to share a great birth story (and isn’t that sad?). So why do I feel a need to force myself? Well, trying not to stray too far off topic (I promise I haven’t forgotten what this blog is about!), I believe that many, many more people could have positive birth experiences if they had heard enough good birth stories. I read stories and watched videos of people having peaceful births and – guess what? – mine looked a lot like those. I ignored the most common depictions of birth (woman lies on her back, screaming in pain, ‘blaming’ her husband).
I learned how to feel calm about giving birth by listening to good birth stories. It wasn’t until after Findlay was born that I discovered this website: tellmeagoodbirthstory.com. And it is the concept of this site which I want to share with you today. This site matches women who have a great birth story to share with women who are anxious about giving birth. Isn’t that just brilliant in its simplicity?
I am excited by this idea, this connecting of people using stories. I love how the strength is provided by peers, not by professionals. I love that it tackles the status quo in such a gentle but profound manner. And it got me thinking; this works for birth stories, what else could it work for? And what else might already exist, which uses a similar approach? All of these initiatives benefit from word of mouth. Please use the comments section to tell us about schemes you know of. And please tell a pregnant woman about tellmeagoodbirthstory.com!
Finally, a word from Natalie Meddings (one of the founders of Tell Me A Good Birth Story), and a woman who was matched with two “buddies”:
“We live in no-woman’s land now..where once there was ordinary knowing female support and experience for us to turn to, now we only turn to experts, books, classes..we have completely forgotten how powerful it can be to listen and learn and share with each other.Messages like birth is a big lottery…or that there is ‘type’ of woman who gives birth naturally have served to isolate and separate women further and stopped us seeing what a woman who has had a positive birth story represents – a powerful resource. a treasure trove of know-how. ‘I couldn’t believe what my two buddies did for me,’ says Sarah from Brighton. ‘There I was a total stranger, but they seemed to just know what I needed -they just got what was going to reassure me. I suspect people think there’s going to be a lot of opinion giving, or self congratulation. But it couldn’t have been less true. These women knew what I needed because they’d been there themselves…and they just wanted to share that with me.’