Should A Doula Write Birth Stories?
Eek, has it really been over 2 months since my last post? How embarrassing! Truth be told, in addition to gestating my own child, things business-wise have been slowing down, and neglecting my website has sadly been a result of that. I attended a birth in August (the night before my birthday!) of a friend that was quick and beautiful. It was such an honor to be present at the birth of my dear friend’s son- a couple with whom I am so close- there’s something special about that!
In September I met a little boy who has one of the strongest moms I know. Her birth was an attempted VBAC, against so many odds, and it was an emotional experience for all of us. However, after attending her birth, I was sent into a place I hadn’t been before as a doula- a place that left me wondering if it’s my right or privilege to write the birth story of another mother.
I have thought about it before. I have seen articles on the blogs of other doulas that either endorse or discourage a doula from writing out a birth story for her client. To be honest, I can see both sides very clearly.
I majored in journalism and have used writing as a way to communicate my strong feelings to other people since childhood. I remember writing notes to my parents when I couldn’t figure out the words to say during those wild hormonal years! So it’s natural to me to write after a birth as a way to personally decompress. But maybe these stories should be for my eyes only? I have thought that by sharing them, I am building up my clients and giving them an ego boost, or even a means to remember some details that maybe they had forgotten. Now, I am wondering if that’s my place?
While I have great intentions, the thought has crossed my mind that maybe I shouldn’t tell. It’s not my story. It’s my side of her story- my version of what happened- but it comes down to the fact that it wasn’t my birth. What I saw as something that was awesome might have been a struggle for her, and by suggesting it was awesome could potentially confuse her or make her question her feelings. What I saw as something that was negative could have meant nothing to her, and I am unintentionally inflicting my feelings on her. Yes, it’s possible to be careful- very careful- with words, but we all interpret words differently, especially when written and not spoken. How many times have you misinterpreted a friend’s text or email, only because you didn’t hear how she said it?
It comes down to the fact that I still want the best for my clients. I desperately want them to have a satisfying birth experience, and after it’s all said and done, I want them to own their decisions and process their experience with confidence that they did the best they could with the knowledge they had. I ask myself how I come into play at this part? Is our postpartum visit enough? Is the birth story helpful, healing, confusing, or unwanted? These are all questions I will take into consideration in the future as I hope to remodel some of my business during my maternity leave. Helping women have the postpartum support they need is going to be a big part of that.
Please feel free to leave me your comments as I work through how I will handle birth stories in the future!