Tenet 2: Why a Birth Story Session Should Be Part of Every Postpartum Return

2.     Our journey through birth is not complete until we complete our Return, which means completing our story, and this is not easy to do on one’s own. Therefore, a personal birth story session should be part of every postpartum Return.

As a nurse-midwife, I was knowledgeable about labor and how to be at a labor. So, when I became pregnant, I assumed I already knew everything I would need to know—but there was something I could only learn through direct experience: being in labor as a mother. And there was something else I hadn’t paid enough attention to: the stories of women who did not feel empowered after giving birth—until I, too, felt shattered and engulfed by the unexpected and pulled under by a wave I call “emotional birth shock.”

I told my story and journaled it many times, making little headway because I could only see what happened from my limited perspective. I likened my futile self-talk to a vinyl record on a turntable repeatedly playing “my failed birth” story as though the stylus got stuck in a groove where my story was “scratched” and kept repeating particular phrases, beliefs, and judgments about certain moments. Eventually, I realized the needle needed to be lifted and set down in a new groove to move forward in my healing. But, try as I might for years, I couldn’t do this for myself; it took someone else to show me how. And that’s why it took me eight years to complete my Return.  

Once I knew the way out, I started helping others complete their stories and postpartum Return. So now I, and fellow birth story listeners, are dedicated to the vision that every community should have a trained birth story guide to help parents complete their postpartum Return by completing their birth story.

What does it mean to “complete” a birth story?

It can mean: 

  • Clarifying a misunderstanding or assumption
  • Seeing the whole of your experience versus focusing on one thing
  • Challenging an old belief to recognize what is more true
  • Finding meaning that is bigger than oneself or experience 
  • Peace of mind
  • Self-forgiveness, self-acceptance, self-love
  • No longer harboring regret, blame or shame.A little more freedom from beliefs and habitual reactions
  • Understanding the experience as a journey of initiation, not a failure

“Being grateful for every little mercy.”

 Sufi Master, Irina Tweedie 

copyright©2023 Pam England. All rights reserved.

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