By Chelsea Wiley
As a labor and delivery nurse I am truly passionate about the process of childbirth. Through my work, I have discovered that it is important for mothers to share their birth stories in order to heal, teach and empower one another through first hand experience. A birth is a transforming moment in life. The story of your birth has the potential to transfer important knowledge to other mothers, and heal unknown parts of yourself. I created the site Birth with Balance to provide a platform for mothers to share their stories and for other mothers and mothers-to-be to learn through reading other birth stories.
Despite the billions of women who have given birth over the centuries, it often strikes me that so many of my patients enter the hospital without any real knowledge or idea of what to expect. Others check in to deliver with a specific plan for how they want childbirth to happen, and cling to this plan even when things do not unfold the way they had hoped. After birth the mother’s story is often lost and so are the decisions she made. Some births are traumatic, and the let down can be devastating, and others are euphoric. Each powerful story helps women prepare for birth, reflect and learn from one another.
The intensity and harmony that accompanies childbirth is a place where both children and stories are born. I created Birth with Balance to tell each of these unique stories.
Your birth story matters!
I am not the first person to recognize the importance of sharing and reading birth stories. In fact, I give this award to Ina May Gaskin the most famous midwife in the world. She said, “Birth matters. It matters because it is the way we all begin our lives outside the source, our mother’s bodies… For each mother, it is an event that shakes and shapes her to the innermost core.” It is a spiritual journey that offers women the opportunity to explore their strengths and weaknesses. A journey so sacred it offers a glimpse into our deepest selves.
I had the opportunity to train with Ina May and she told us one of her own birth stories during class one day, a story that ultimately changed her life. During Ina’s first birth all of her limbs were tied down and her baby was “prophylactically” pulled out at high station using forceps – without much consent. This was the trend during the time as cesarean sections are the trend now. This painful experience empowered her to make changes and become the woman she is today. By telling her birth story Ina demonstrated how important it is to heal after birth, and teach other women in order not to repeat the cycle.
I know that the best way to counter the effects of frightening birth stories is to hear or read inspiring ones. Though it is important to share difficult stories in order to heal, it is just as vital to tell positive stories to reduce fear, build confidence, and transmit alternative knowledge.
The anxiety, fear, and disappointment that can surround childbirth have taught me that the most valuable thing a woman can do when giving birth is to simply surrender. If you can let go of your mind and let the power of your body take over—truly trust in your instincts—you will experience the full range of heightened emotion surrounding birth, including exhaustion, disappointment, ecstasy, frustration, love, and even euphoria. All of these emotions are teachers.
Birth with Balance is the only website available that focuses solely on birth stories, offers a questionnaire to help mothers write their story (in case anyone is feeling shy), and gathers stories from around the world. This forum is a safe place for mothers to: remember, reflect, heal from a trauma, contribute their wisdom, role model, empower, and offer alternative birthing options.
Share your birth story and contribute your wisdom! Please visit the site to read some amazing stories and connect with other mothers around the globe. You can also find us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/birthwithbalance