At a party on Saturday night, and not for the first time, a friend of mine and I got talking and ultimately sat down and accidentally debriefed her birth experience. We talked it out, she expressed what went down and how this affected her and I silently got those almost inevitable white-hot rage pangs down the back of my head a few times (which I feel most birth workers would recognise as a side effect of debriefing many a hospital birth). And afterwards she came out with the fact that despite her baby being almost a year old, this was the first time she had been able to actually talk about it.
And this seems to be a recurring theme.
Recently, before recording a podcast about women’s rights in childbirth, Abbey said to me that she doesn’t feel like there are many places for women to go with their birth stories, especially if they are traumatic.
And I was like- ‘what the fuck…?’
And this was my reaction for two reasons…
- Because of who I am and what I do and what I love and value- I talk to women about their births (past and future) all the bloody time. And…
- Because EVERYONE needs to talk it out.
Whether you had an angelic birth in the ocean, surrounded by dolphins and you want to sing your own praises from atop a mountain. OR if you had an experience that cut and crushed you to your very core- we need to talk it out.
Hell, we DESERVE to talk it out.
Why is there this constant pretense that because a birth experience lasted only a tiny fraction of the time it took to grow the baby, that it is somehow unimportant? Or god forbid mediocre?
There’s actual new freaking life coming into the world people!
For many women it may be the biggest thing they ever do in their whole life!
And what, she’s supposed to just put that in the ‘who-gives-a-shit’ pile next to what she had for breakfast yesterday and the boy she dated in high school?
Pardon me for getting a bit shouty. But this is bullshit. And so unfair and disempowering to women and all people who have birthed a real human baby.
And if you’re sitting reading this and thinking about how you have this incredible story sitting in your chest, wanting to burst out but having nowhere to go… If you feel like it’s been too long to go into it or that it’s not a big deal or that you don’t want to draw attention to yourself- I have this to say to you—
It hasn’t been too long.
It is a big freaking deal.
Every one of these stories has value.
Your story is important.
YOU are important.
And in all honesty, the only way we are going to make any headway with what is wrong with our contemporary birth culture in this country is to get this shit out there in the open. It doesn’t belong in the shadows.
So talk it out. Find someone who will listen. Find me in the street if you have to!
This is your story, your heartsong and it matters.
Annie will be sharing a Birth Stories Women’s Circle at the Seven Sisters Festival, Mount Martha in March. She also has just launched her new Childbirth Education program, ‘Getting Real about Birth’ and spaces are available for the December program.