Emerging Birth Stories: Shifting and Sifting

Stacked stones as a metaphor for shifting and sifting birth stories. Photo copyright 2016 Virginia Bobro

When we experience an unexpected, intense, or life-changing event, we can feel shaken to our core. Sometimes we realize during the event or soon after that our life and ways of thinking will never be the same. Other times, it may be weeks or months before we face the irreversible and transformational nature of our experience. For many, childbirth and becoming a parent is one of these times. Difficult, disappointing, or traumatic birth are all-too-common experiences, so many parents are seeking birth story healing in the months and years after birth.

In what ways are you becoming curious about what you (or others) have been telling you about what your birth story means?

Birth stories are not a single event, but rather a series of subjective and objective events over a significant period of time (up to a month or more). Many things happen to us and within us. The events of the birth, of course, cannot be changed, but may not ever be completely known or understood. Mystery is an essential aspect of birth. However what can and does change is the personal and subjective narrative, the emotions, and the memories associated with the birth. The meaning someone gives their lived experience changes over time. A birth story is not told the same way every time.

Factors that shift how a birth story is understood and told include:

  • The natural passing of time;
  • New information or facts about the birth;
  • The birth story as told by other people who were present, such as the doula, family members, partner, care-provider;
  • Responses, reactions, questions, and advice from those to whom the birth story is told (at support groups, social gatherings, etc.);
  • Conscious traumatic birth healing and birth story integration practices, such as art, journaling, bodywork, meditation, counseling, medication, etc.;
  • Postpartum events related to the parent’s physiology or healing and the well-being and behavior of the baby.

The parent’s birth story can change in positive, negative, or neutral ways. It can be changed unintentionally, unconsciously, or intentionally and purposefully. But it will change. This is the nature of birth story healing. This unfolding of our birth story is also the unfolding of ourselves, as we discard narratives and beliefs that may no longer be true or fit us anymore. The journey back to ourselves, after the challenges and intensity of the childbearing year, asks us to be patient, to be observant, and to be open to new ways of knowing, being, and moving.

Is there a belief, an image, a narrative that is more nuanced, more whole, or more compassionate just beneath the surface, waiting for you to do the work of sifting out the truth?

There is no need to hold on to the birth story that first emerged when we were cracked open, immersed in the fog of birth and the weeks after it. We can allow the story to shift and sift and show itself over time, as we shed the expectations, judgments, and doubts that we (and others) may have layered upon it.

Virginia Bobro offers birth story healing

Virginia Bobro offers birth story processing and healing to parents around the world, as well as trainings and continuing education to perinatal and mental health professionals. See all events here >

About Virginia Bobro

Virginia has provided support and education to expectant parents and families since 1995. Through Birthing From Within, she's trained and mentored thousands of birth professionals globally since 2006, with extensive training and expertise in public speaking, communication skills, mindfulness, creativity, and self-awareness, as well as childbirth, lactation, and the postpartum period. She has raised three wonderful children to adulthood and is a working artist and writer.