Lately I have changed the way I ask about women's birth experiences. Using a few simple questions that I learned from Pam England (birthpeeps.blogspot.com), I have learned the most amazing things about these women and about the power of birth. I ask women to tell me about one moment of their birth that stands out for them. It's important not to put your own preconceptions into the question (avoid asking for moments that were “beautiful”, “magical” or “empowering” etc.) Just ask for a moment that stands out and that she can picture in a single image or scene. As she is picturing this scene, ask her what she knew to be true about herself in that moment.
It seems like women rarely tell their birth stories to each other in a meaningful way. The casual birth story generally has one of two narratives: birth is horrible or birth is wonderful; and has the effect of dividing women. These stories also tend to be rather clinical, a chronology of medical events, rather than something experienced from within.
The next time you talk about birth with someone, ask them these two questions. Not only will you find out something surprising about her and about birth, but, most importantly, she may begin to view her birth, and herself as a woman and mother, in a new way. It may change the way she tells her birth story and be a very healing experience.
Christy is a doula and Birthing From Within childbirth mentor committed to strengthening families and communities through storytelling/storylistening, meaningful celebration, mindfulness, and reflective work.