My oldest son’s birthday is coming up and I’m feeling sentimental about his birth. It was 15 years ago and I’ve forgotten many of the details from the day we first met. It was a very long labor over Christmas eve and Christmas day, and I really wish I had more memories to share with him. I was an exhausted new mom and my brain wasn’t focused on storing memories at that time.
As a doula, I’ve listened to hundreds of birth stories. I always tell new moms to save the details of their baby’s birth. They will want to share it with their children some day! My boys love hearing what I can remember about our first days together.
Here are some tips I’ve learned over the years.
Don’t Wait to Write the Birth Story
Did you know oxytocin (the hormone that causes contractions, promotes attachment in humans, and may lead to feelings of love) has amnesia properties? That means it’s even harder for us to remember the birth details days, weeks, or even years later.
Here are some ideas to save those important details:
- Write a journal-style account of the birth.
- Have someone record you talking about the birth and save in video format.
- Type your baby’s birth story.
Ask for Your Birth Records
Did you know your nurses, midwives, and doctors kept notes about you during the birth? You can request a copy of those notes from your providers if you’d like details about cervical checks, medications used, time of birth, complications, Cesarean notes, etc. There is often a small copy/paper fee when you are getting paper copy of the birth records.
Write a Timeline Including Your Emotions
Many people have some memories about the timeline of labor and/or birth events. “I felt my first contraction at 3:37 a.m. My water broke at 6:59 a.m. Baby was born at 2:15 p.m.” When you go to preserve your baby’s birth story, include your emotions as well. “I felt my first contraction at 3:37 a.m and I was so surprised I jumped out of bed!”
A full birth story would include the days leading up to labor, the full labor story (or Cesarean preparation time), the birth, and the first days after the birth. Don’t forget to include the perspective of other parents or people who were at the birth! Have them include their thoughts and emotions too.
Enlist Professional Help
Many people find themselves unhappy with how their baby’s birth played out. Maybe your birth plan didn’t go as expected. Maybe your providers weren’t supportive enough. Don’t be afraid to see help from a licensed mental health therapist that specializes in perinatal/postpartum support to help you with processing the birth.