For a long time after giving birth to my daughter, I simply couldn't read about birth. This was a far cry from the days of my pregnancy, when I lived on a diet of strawberries, potatoes and birth stories. Back then, I wanted to know everything and I wanted to know it all at once. I wanted to read and learn and plan. But after my own traumatic birth experience, I shut myself off to the idea that birth could be manageable... let alone inspiring.
So when I stumbled upon the True Birth project, I opened the link with hesitation... would my trauma be brought back to the forefront of my mind? Would I be reminded of how I 'failed' to 'achieve' my 'perfect' birth?
This project aims to encourage and inspire women to believe that we have the power to give birth, and it does so by sharing the birth stories of many different mothers. But more than this, the project also aims to provide closure to those of us who wobble at the very mention of childbirth.
As I saw the faces of these new mothers holding their precious little bundles, it dawned on me that every birth experience is very much a unique journey into motherhood... but by no means does each one fit into a singular mould:
- I have heard of women who felt elated when giving birth. Some had water births, while others had home births with barely any interventions. And sure enough, many of these mothers felt empowered by their experience.
Wait, there's more...
- I have heard of women who felt desperate when giving birth. Some gave birth via caesarian section, while others had fully medicated hospital births. And sure enough, many of these mothers felt empowered by their experience.
You see, there are no hard and fast rules at play when it comes to how we are "supposed" to feel about childbirth. For some, there is a true sense of empowerment with every contraction, yet for others, the notion of empowerment is slightly harder to come by; it is something we have searched for and developed over time. For me, I felt nothing but disempowered during my entire birthing experience, and for a very long time afterwards. But I am slowly finding my own version of 'birth empowerment' through sharing my story; in reaching out to other mothers and in learning to accept my own truth in all of its messy and complicated glory.
So let me say this...
Mama, you can do this. You can do this in whichever way you need to. You can accept help. You can laugh and you can cry.
You simply can.
And to the mama who has passed this milestone already, whether you ran a sprint or a marathon... whether you delivered naturally or with the help of a surgical team...you did it.
You made a human.
You created life. You felt every hiccup and tiny stretch and you brought that little person into this world.
If I were isolated in my own traumatic experience, I might assume that my own "truth" about childbirth was absolute; that it was concrete and commonplace. But something amazing happens when we start talking. When we share our stories, the unknown becomes known and the scary becomes a little more manageable.
I hope that the True Birth project reaches many, many mothers. I hope that the stories it bears help to normalize childbirth, and to reassure women that there is no one singular "perfect" way to give birth. Quite simply, I hope that the project gains enough momentum to inspire us all to keep reaching out, to keep sharing and to keep the conversation going.
You can read more and pledge your support to the True Birth project here.
Photo credit: True Birth
This post originally appeared on Mama Bean Parenting.