Not only becoming a parent, but the experience is something women carry with them: sometimes as a badge of pride, or sometimes as a wound.A few weeks ago, one of my young mothers had attended a childbirth education class I had taught. The week after the class I was on a second home visit with this young mother. She expressed her amazement at how much she learned and the choices they are able to make in that experience. She had filled out a birth preference plan after the class and had shared it with her mother and family. They were interested in the choices she was making and how she was actively involved in making choices about her upcoming birth.Traditionally, a home visit with a client is time spent discussing the birth, sharing information and talking out their choices. This visit was different. I spent the hour with her mother discussing the birth of my client! Her mother talked at length, remembering the tiniest details and describing the 20 year old experience as if it were just a few months ago.
It was an amazing moment to be able to share such an intimate experience with my client’s mother. She had a difficult pregnancy and birth. She needed to talk about it. I hope being there to listen offered her some validation that her experience was difficult and she did the best she could in handling it. My hope is maybe she was able to understand her pregnancy and birth experience are inextricable from who she is and she will be supportive of her daughters birth choices, however similar or different they may be.
As this interaction illustrates, birth does matter. So often I hear, “As long as the baby is healthy, I don’t care.” Everyone’s goal is always the healthiest baby possible, that does not mean you have to forgo understanding what a mother’s birth experience is going to be. Your care-giver will not remember your birth, you will always remember and re-experience your birth.
I feel honored to have the opportunity to encourage a family through their pregnancy and birth. It is wonderful to be able to hear them retell their birth experience. Birth is an intimate family time and it is wonderful to be able to help families grow and create their own birth memories.