You are the only one who can define your birth story, meaning that birth trauma is subjective to the individual at the center of the experience. A birthing person might struggle with their birth story in different ways; this could mean emotionally, physically, or mentally. Between 25-34% of births are reported as traumatic. You are not alone, my friend. Especially with the addition of this pandemic to our lives, I can only imagine how birth experiences have shifted for the birthing person, their support person, and the rest of the birth team.
Birth is an extraordinary event in our lives, and it can bring up a lot of emotions and changes. Regardless of the outcome, birth may bring out some emotions that are difficult and/or challenging. Birth Story Listening, also referred to as Birth Story Medicine, is a process brought to us by Pam England (midwife, counselor, and author of several books, including Birthing From Within) that offers a unique, safe space to share your story and the impact it still has on you now.
Sessions with a trained Birth Story Mentor create an opportunity for you, the storyteller, to review the birth experience with no one judging, patronizing, or coddling you. This holistic process uses thoughtful questions, validation, and solution-focused dialogue to help the storyteller rediscover truths and answers about themselves and help them find some healing and peace. After a Birth Story Listening session, storytellers leave with new insights and uncovered beliefs, along with newfound self-confidence and love that can radiate into their lives.
Experiencing a difficult birth experience is not uncommon, so it is important that we find a shift in the stigma around sharing and making time to listen to these stories and experiences. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recently said: “Specific to obstetrics is the increasing acknowledgement of traumatic birth experiences, which may include unexpected outcomes, procedures, obstetric emergencies, and neonatal complications.”
Birth trauma is valid and real. As you navigate this vulnerable and important chapter, you deserve to feel the presence of a kind professional holding space for you. I chose to become trained in Birth Story Listening back in 2018 because I am passionate about amplifying this type of support. As a postpartum doula on the Major Care Team and trained Birth Story Mentor, it is an honor to witness such powerful moments of release, tenderness, emotion, and validation.
When you feel you are open to inviting a shift in perspective or self-growth from a difficult birth, you may be ready for a Birth Story Listening session. Trained and approved by Pam England, I offer private one-on-one sessions with anyone who has witnessed birth, whether you are a parent or birth professional. Using my background as a birth and postpartum doula, I work with you to help bring you new insights and perspectives by using a guided, natural flow of solution-focused dialogue.
Healing birth trauma is not linear. There is no right or wrong way to feel. Processing, grieving and healing your experience happens one moment at a time, and there is no “perfect” way to do this. Give yourself time and grace, and be gentle with yourself. You are deserving of this.
Allison Morgan is a postpartum doula on our Major Care team and is the owner of Holistic Birth & Beyond. She is a certified birth and postpartum doula, certified childbirth and lactation educator, reiki practitioner and trained Birth Story Mentor. Allison lives in New Hampshire with her husband.