It seems the tide is turning in our Western society, and we are finally talking about birth. There are blogs, magazines, support groups, and forums where parents gather to share these most intimate and yet most universal stories. They’re stories of hospital births, medicated births, water births, home births, unassisted births, premature births, overdue births, stillbirths, surrogate births, outdoor births, multiple births, caesarean births: the whole, beautiful spectrum of childbirth, of the moment life is given to a new being. But more often than not, these stories are shared among mothers, and then that’s where the storytelling ends. The stories remain contained in that sanctum of women, our contemporaries, and rarely do we speak of them outside these female spaces.
But is there a more intimate, defining moment between mother and child than the moment when one is birthed from the body of the other? What a mother calls her birth story is her child’s birth story, too, and in sharing that story with the child, the child is given roots to understand his or her origin.
Below are some ways to share your child’s birth story with him or her and open up a new connection between parent and child.
Use age-appropriate language to tell a comforting storybased on the event’s simple details and observations. What was the weather like? Where were you? Who was there? Was there music playing? What time was your child born? This is enough detail for young children, and it begins a conversation that may deepen over the years.
Use photographs. Let your child see photographs of his or her pregnant mother, during labor, after the birth and over the next few days. Your child will likely ask questions about where he or she was and how your body changed, so answer as simply and straightforwardly as you can.
Start a family tradition of telling your child her birth story on her birthday. As the years go by, her story will become a part of her, and she will be able to tell it herself. This allows her to celebrate and take ownership of her story.
Make your child a book of his birth story. It can be a simple, handwritten, hand-sewn booklet, made of pretty paper and kept in a special place where he can access it whenever he likes. If you’re artistic, you might include drawings. When he’s older, your child will appreciate having his story told in your unique handwriting.
Ask your child about her birth and the time before she was born. As soon as your child is old enough to hold a conversation, began to ask her if she remembers being inside mama, being born, or even being a tiny baby. Many mothers are astonished by their child’s accuracy, and starting this conversation young can keep these memories in her consciousness.
Encourage other people to tell their memories of the birth to your child, too. Your child may enjoy hearing about himself from another parent or a grandparent.
Keep it positively framed. Many births are difficult, and you don’t want your child thinking she hurt you during her birth. You might explain how sometimes babies and mothers have to work extra hard together during childbirth and that this is a special journey they’re on together.
Encourage your child to process his birth story through drawing. You can draw alongside him, too.
As your child ages, let her lead the way, but you can give more details as you wish. You know your child best and know how much information she will be happy with. If your child had a traumatic birth, take care to ensure that the overwhelming message is one of love and connection, despite any difficulties during labor.
Use educational tools like MamAmor dolls to tell a child his birth story. Visual aids can make a story more tangible for a child. He can see how you were standing or in bed, learn which position he was born in, and understand about the placenta. Keeping the dolls accessible also gives him the opportunity to re-enact his birth story and retell it in his own way, letting him truly put his own voice to it.