Birth Stories – A Change In Tradition

I added a great birth story yesterday from a recent homebirth. It got me thinking about why women write birth stories and the important role they play.


Photograph from a recent Birth Story - Notice the face in the mirror

Birth stories are an important part of womanhood. Traditionally a woman would hear birth stories from her mother, grandmothers and aunts. When a young woman became pregnant she was comfortable with the prospect of birthing a child. She would know what to expect and with experienced women surrounding her she was not frightened. However the modern break up of the tightly knit family forces many women to gain that wisdom elsewhere.

It is ironic that although the entire human population is birthed (in one way or another) and virtually half the population give birth, the act of birth is rapidly becoming one of societies dirty secrets (like menstruation perhaps). Women are becoming afraid of birth, their mothers were afraid, and it is that fear that is now being passed down. Is it no wonder alarm bells ring at the mention of homebirth.

My mother wasn’t afraid. She had a homebirth, not to make a statement, but because it was just the best thing to do. It meant that my birth story was something I wanted to hear (over and over).


After a beautiful homebirth there's plenty of time for reflection

It’s vitally important for not only our children but for other women to discover the truth behind birth. Women who birth quietly, loudly, amazingly and gently at home need to tell others about it. It is crucial for women to pass on the message that birth is completely natural and normal.

Birth is the biggest event in a woman’s life and by recording that event in words even your inner thoughts become your greatest memories. It doesn’t matter if a well-crafted birth plan had to change; the birth story can still be a positive experience. People take copious amount of video and photographs of their wedding without a second thought. Yet birth is bigger and more euphoric than climbing Everest. Your children will prefer to hear about their births than your wedding and the stories you tell will shape not only their outlook on birth but that of their children too.

Women who put their birth stories up for others to read are truly inspirational. They fill the gap created by fragmented families and communities. They motivate women to consider all their options and aspire them to have births founded on exhilaration and not apprehension.

Countless women love birth stories. I have noticed how they search the net over and over to look for them. They read births from all over the world. It is easy to see from the written word what you want and what you don’t want.

There is nothing like telling a great birth story to get people to share your joy and your elation. Women who homebirth have a particular need to share. They are the most euphoric and desperately want to enlighten others. How many homebirthers would never do it again? How many hospital birthers feel the same way?

In my birth story section there is a transfer to hospital. However the woman still had an wonderful birth and feels like it wasn’t done to her but she did it. Complications are sometimes unavoidable but that doesn’t mean your story isn’t worth telling. In fact it can be more important for others to know that it is still possible to feel uplifted by your birth, as long as you plan and keep the balance of power for yourself and your baby.

I have a story of a ceasarian section from the mother/father and my angle that I am editing. This shows the strength and passion of birth even when faced with an almost impossible situation. It will follow shortly.

It is important to get your thoughts on paper as soon as you feel up to it after the birth. The story is yours. Women often ask to have my notes for their story, which I provide regardless, but I encourage them to pen their stories without this. My notes contain my story of their birth, which can be quite different to theirs.

This is my story of Rose’s Breech birth published in Joyous Birth’s Joy magazine.

Being In The Moment

The phone rings. It’s early hours. It’s birth. My heart races and I move quickly to go. As I’m on my way there is another phone call, partner on the phone saying hurry up we want you here. I reassure them all is well and they should make a comfortable area. They don’t need me. They are doing it well.

When I arrive I step quietly through the door carrying a bag. The birth vibe is everywhere, the lights are dim and I talk quietly. On all fours is a great strong birthing woman. I’m coloured by her aura. She says, “I’m glad your here. I’m pushing and I’m scared of this bit.” I say “You’ve done it, this is the easy part, just concentrate on your baby”. She gives a push and we see something. Her energy lifts me up and her courage has returned. We watch and wait. Each burst brings her closer to meeting her baby. Her partner whispers soft words of encouragement and her birth helpers sit around taking in the moment.

A bottom has appeared and then a foot. As the baby slowly descends with each limb becoming visible I feel honoured to be at the birth. To witness such power and love. There is a video running in the background, the birth being filmed by a friend I hardly notice.


Jubilation following Rose's breech homebirth

The baby is born and I move her gently through legs to her parents. The birth mother unwraps the cord from around the baby’s neck and the baby girl gives a small cry. They are ecstatic and relieved, crying and laughing. I am crying too, tears of pure joy.

This isn’t my birth story; no birth I attend is my story. It’s the story of strength, belief and birth that belongs to each and every woman. For a midwife to really be in the moment is just to be there. To see the incredible nature of women and the glorious story of birth.

As you can see this is nothing like Rose’s story. We all have our own things to say. Women all over the world want to hear it. Birth MUST be passed from woman to woman to keep the normal birth process alive and to get women to trust their birth.

8 responses to “Birth Stories – A Change In Tradition”

  1. Sheridan

    I LOVE birth stories and really encourage the moms I teach to read positive ones. I have collected over 150 positive birth stories at so moms can find happy ones to read. They encourage trust in birth. :)

  2. Rose

    So Beautiful Lisa! I cry whenever i read that. Thank You. xoxo

  3. Cryptic Automaton

    I enjoyed reading that post.

    I was born in a hospital and have no idea of my birth story. My mother has never discussed it. I’m pretty sure things would have been different had it been a homebirth.

    Like many of life’s decisions people are frequently looking for approval. This is particularly true with birth. Women and men go to great effort to justify their decison. Not many own up to making a bad decision, even if they decide not to repeat it. For those women who birth at a hospital, they will undoubtably put pressure on their own children to do the same as a way of condoning their own actions. And so the cycle continues.

    You’re so right about the birth stories being different for the indiviuals at the birth. My birth stories would be completely different to my wife’s. I wish now that I had written them. In fact I have never seen any birth stories from the father’s viewpoint. They must exist and would be interesting to compare to the mother’s.

  4. Lisa Barrett

    I’m glad that my mother told us all our stories and that gave me the inspiration to pass on to my own children.

    Why don’t you write your children’s birth stories from your point of view. I’d love to put them up here for everyone to read.

  5. Susana

    thanks for this encouragement. I have encouraged women to write their birth stories, have many birth stories on my own blog, and have written about all of my births except one. I need to take the time to write about that birth. I think I will do it this week. Thanks for the reminder!!!

  6. Sarah Stewart

    It’s funny you wrote about writing birth stories because this is something I have written about on my blog.

    It was my son’s 18th birthday the other day and I wrote my birth story, primarily for him.

    But his birth wasn’t an easy birth and a follow up comment intimated that it was a negative birth story – that may not have been the case – it may have been that I am too defensive. But anyway, the question came up about negative birth stories and what are their effects. So I’ll ask much the same question as was asked of me – why does it seem some times that people focus on negativity & should these stories be published in a public arena where they can be off-putting to women about to birth?

  7. Lisa Barrett

    I didn’t think your story was negative, it was real. there were some very positive emotions in there.

    I think stories like that with the follow up of what could have been different are important too. I don’t think we should hide the fact that crap happens. This leads women into a false sense of security. Telling women the truth is critical. How will women know whats great if they don’t know what’s not.

  8. Anonymous

    Lisa, I agree so strongly that women need to share birth stories! My sister was born at home (me there, at age 7), the 5th child for my mum and first baby at home. I'm not at all close with my mother, and I don't remember her being pregnant with my sister at all, although I do remember very vividly the energy in our home when she was in labour. My mother has never actually shared the story of this birth with me, but my dad regularly, and publicly speaks about what a life changing birth it was, he recalls specific details about my sisters first breath, how she swam into my mothers arms, how he drained the birth pool afterwards, how he buried the placenta in our garden and planted a tree above it. My dad's testimony has been such a strong influence to me – I am sure that I will one day homebirth my children, and hope to also one day become a homebirth midwife (if it remains legal of course). My sister is now 16…my dad almost 60, and he still tells new people the story of my sisters birth.

    To this day I don't understand how my mum could have decided on a home birth, but not talk about it. I wish she had shared more – perhaps I would be able to understand her better and we would be closer.

    With thanks,