Telling your birth stories - and hearing them too
By West Norwood Therapies Team, Jan 30 2019 09:00AM
Hypnobirthing teacher Clare Butler shares some thoughts about positive and negative birth stories as part of National Story Telling Week
When I heard that National Story Telling Week was coming up, my mind at once jumped to birth stories. Whether you have had a baby or are expecting, here are a few things to consider.
What is a positive birth story? Let’s get this straight – as a hypnobirthing teacher I do not simply regard a positive birth to be one where pain relief was not used. In my view, a positive birth story is a labour and birth that, even if there were some unexpected twists and turns or interventions, you felt calm, relaxed, in control and ultimately you and your birth partner felt positive about it.
Unfortunately, those that are fortunate enough to have had a positive birth are not always sharing their story. This is a growing trend that is due to a number of reasons: people are sensitive to those who may have had a negative experience, they don’t want to be perceived as boasting and there is a tendency to focus on the negative rather than the positive – just look at the news....
The sensitivity point came to the forefront recently. England footballer Harry Kane suffered a backlash after tweeting “So proud of Kate for having the most amazing water birth with no pain relief at all”. This is a positive account that was received negatively. It left some women who have used pain relief during labour feeling a failure and some angry. I understand why some women took it this way but as he pointed out, any woman can give birth how they like and also every birth is different. As a Hypnobirthing couple, I am sure that even if Harry’s partner Kate had chosen to use pain relief, that he would still be proud and elated after a positive birth experience. Despite Harry creating a bit of a storm, I am confident that his tweet would have also had a positive effect – helping expectant couples feel more confident ahead of giving birth and less afraid.
I also wanted to highlight the importance of choice when it comes to hearing birth stories. Like a well-stocked library, there needs to be an array of birth stories available to expectant parents. Every birth story is valid and has a lesson but I am a strong believer in giving couples the option to hear it or, after reading the title, allowing them to put it back on the shelf. Couples need to be informed ahead of birth but, most importantly, they need to feel confident and not fearful. This will result in a calmer experience.
So, what is my main message to those that have already given birth? Please ask your pregnant friend, colleague or stranger before sharing your birth story with them – especially if it is negative in any way, and please offer to share any positive birth story you may have. If we go into birth with only negative stories and thoughts swirling through our heads, then we are far more likely to have a negative experience.
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