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Childbirth Stories – What is it like to give birth?

Childbirth Stories – What is it like to give birth? Hero Image

Every childbirth experience is unique. Since the typical woman does not exist, every pregnancy, labor and delivery will be different, regardless of whether it’s your first child or your second. Whether a woman gives birth vaginally or by cesarean section, there is no doubt that childbirth is an event like no other. Childbirth cannot be compared with any other physical experience, thus the description of delivery becomes a very subjective matter. So how are we best to describe what is it like to give birth? A good way to approach the topic of childbirth is to read a wide variety of other women’s birth stories. Even then, we will most likely come to the same conclusion: every birth story is unique [and therefore mine will be unique]. Certainly, one can prepare for childbirth to some degree, however we will never be able to predict the course of delivery. The mere knowledge of this fact might help to remove some of the pressure that birthing parents encounter to have a “perfect” birth story, particularly if their course of labor takes an unexpected turn. 

The unpredictable nature of childbirth

It is completely normal for first-time-parents to be worried about childbirth. The unpredictable nature of labour and birth can be scary at times. I, for instance, truly believed that I was well prepared for childbirth because I had read so much about labor and parenthood. I completed HypnoBirthing and childbirth courses and I tookgood care of my mental and physical health. I also had a well thought-through birth plan. Unfortunately, nothing happened as I thought it would. There are so many things I wish I had known before giving birth. I am personally very disappointed that most of the available resources for mothers-to-be are often full of misconceptions and sugar-coated information. Many of the books that I read before going into labor generalized the process of childbirth without preparing us for the uncertain nature of the experience itself. Unfortunately, only a few of these sources paid attention to topics related to emotions, open communication with the inner voice, safety of those in labor, or the mental and physical struggles that can be experienced during the postpartum period. 

Childbirth Stories – What is it like to give birth? Midwife with a woman in labor

Trusting your body is, in my opinion, one of the most significant aspect of childbirth. Listening to our inner voice can truly guide us, as the body tells us exactly what to do during the birth: when to push, when to wait, or when to call for help if the birth experience is getting too heavy to bear. However, trusting those instincts is not simple under all circumstances. While dealing for the first time with the overwhelming pain of contractions, intense emotions, fear, or los of control, one may overlook or ignore critical signals that our bodies are sending us. It is therefore imperative that we reflect on our mental state during labour, that we allow ourselves to feel freely, whether these feelings are positive or negative, so that we are able to find the best possible solution and have best possible experience. 

I believe that the way we think and talk about childbirth needs to improve. This change will not happen overnight. I still encounter the terminology of natural childbirth referring to vaginal birth. Childbirth is always natural, regardless of the method. A friend of mine, for instance, who recently experienced childbirth by cesarean section, encountered the terminology of an “easy way out” referring to her cesarean delivery. Although I experienced a vaginal delivery, I don’t think that cutting through all the layers of the abdomen is an easy way out of pregnancy. Childbirth is undoubtedly a miracle and the beginning of a new life. However, childbirth can be a huge challenge and downplaying the experience is simply unacceptable.

A “Positive” or “Negative” Birth?

Childbirth is without a doubt the beginning of a new and unknown chapter in every woman’s life. In fact, there are almost as many positive and emotional childbirth experiences as negative and traumatic experiences. Some women describe childbirth as an empowering. For others it was horrifying, precipitating a pathological event. There are some birthing parents who do not to attach importance to the act of giving birth or who do not want to talk about it. Many women I spoke with admitted that childbirth made them feel like superwomen. They were surprised by how much strength they had in them and how much their body and mind could endure in the name of love. This intense and profound psychological and physical experience left these women with a sense of unlimited inner strength and complete control over their lives and their fate. Unfortunately this is not the case for every woman. Even though measuring trauma can be subjective, some sources state that “up to 45% of new mothers have reported experiencing birth trauma.” 1 That means almost half of the women giving birth may perceive childbirth as a stressful, traumatic event. In fact childbirth trauma can increase the risk of Postpartum depression (PPD), which often brings along anxiety, panic attacks or problems with sleeping.

Childbirth Stories – What is it like to give birth? Woman after birth

The experience of childbirth differs in many ways. How we experience and feel the birth of our child depends on so many factors including our physical and mental health, age, origin and even social and material status. Many women are still forced to give birth in harsh or inhumane conditions. Some women choose to give birth in a hospital, others at home or in a birthing home, and still others have no control over it at all. How we experience childbirth is also largely dependent on the people who accompany us at the time of labor and delivery. I don’t just mean our partners, but also family and friends or doctors and midwives. I often come across stories of desensitization and lack of compassion from medical professionals, despite how personal, private and intimate the experience of giving birth is. We can surely agree to one thing: Labor and contractions hurt like hell. And again, some women can overcome the pain with breathing techniques, composure, meditation or HypnoBirthing, while others get totally knocked out by the unexpected pain despite months of preparation for the “smooth birth” experience.

It’s time to break the taboo

We may not have total control over the outcome of the childbirth, however we definitely can break taboos around this complex topic. An open and frank conversation will help women better understand the process of childbirth and the emotions that accompany it. Truthful exchange of experiences will outline the diversity of each birth and help us to better understand that childbirth is truly individual, and one of a kind. Naomi Wolf, in her book “Misconceptions” best describes the necessity of sharing the truth: “Not only are we inadequately informed about what pregnancy, birth, and new motherhood really involve, we also lack the freedom to describe what we have seen for ourselves along the way. For complex cultural and personal reasons we are expected to keep the full range of our feelings and discoveries to ourselves.” 2

So is it even possible to describe what it is like to give birth? In my opinion, it cannot be stated unequivocally and it surely should not be generalized ether. To better understand the diversity of birth experiences, at No Taboo Mom we have decided to create a series of birth stories of different women of different ages and from different countries. By doing so, we wish to create a collection of all kinds of perspectives unique from general beliefs. Therefore, I cordially invite you, dear ladies, to share your stories, whether they be similar or completely different to those described by our heroines.

There is so much to say on the subject of childbirth. What do you feel when you think about childbirth? Do you think that the topic of childbirth is generalized and downplayed? Or do you keep asking yourself, “Why didn’t anyone tell me this before?” Or would you like to share some important thought with us? Whatever you have to say about childbirth, we warmly invite you to share your story with others.

Feel free to read the birth stories we have collected so far. With time, the collection of our experiences will grow, which, I hope, will allow us to better understand that the topic of childbirth should not be generalized because each of us is so unique, so brave and so wonderful.

Childbirth Stories – What is it like to give birth? Baby during birth with doctors

Read our childbirth stories:

Childbirth Stories – My journey from hospital to home birth

Julia is a psychiatric nurse, a teacher and a mother of two girls. Having worked in the German healthcare service for several years, Julia clearly saw the inefficiencies of the system in relation to women’s health in particular. She always said that she would rather give birth in the comfort of her own home than in a hospital. She shared her story of her first hospital birth experience and her second birth at home with her family. Julia’s narrative is a beautiful story of difficult decisions, human emotions, strength, determination and great courage which moved our hearts.

Childbirth Stories – From loss of control to total knockout

Throughout her pregnancy, Ewa was actively preparing for childbirth by practicing HypnoBirthing, yoga and meditation. She led a healthy lifestyle, read a lot of books for pregnant women and listened to doctors’ advice. She trusted that her health was in good hands. She thought she had it all under control until the first strong contraction followed by aggressive vomiting occurred in the Berliner Hospital. Uncontrolled fear, panic and overwhelm contributed to a traumatic childbirth experience which left her with an extensive postpartum injury and post partum depression. Here is a story of the medical errors, bumpy road to recovery and an invincible fighting spirit.

 

References :

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6193358/
  2. Wolf, Naomi. Misconceptions. Truths, lies and the unexpected on the journey to motherhood.
    Vintage 2002. P. 2

 

Further reading :

 

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Meet the Author

Ewa Gillen, MCI, is the Co-Founder of No Taboo Mom and a dedicated mother to her daughter Milou, born in 2020. Ewa has been in a loving relationship with Benjamin since 2008. Born in 1985 in Poland, she has lived, studied, and worked across Germany, Canada, Australia, and Spain. In 2014, she founded the Gillen Design Agency and has been an Independent Creative Professional ever since. “No Taboo Mom is a project very close to my heart. I genuinely believe that sharing open-minded stories with a supportive community can make a significant impact and change the world. I want to make this world a better place for my baby girl.”


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No Taboo Mom is a place of kindness. We believe shared narrative brings people together and leads to a positive cultural shift. Therefore, we encourage you to share your stories with others.
Please notice, the submission of illegal, harassing, hateful or hurtful comments will be deleted from our blog in order to protect our readers and writers. Be kind.

No Taboo Mom is a place of kindness.

At No Taboo Mom we believe shared narrative brings people together and leads to a positive cultural shift. Therefore, we encourage you to share your stories with others.

Please notice, the submission of illegal, harassing, hateful or hurtful comments will be deleted from our blog in order to protect our readers and writers. 
 
Be kind.