I know this struggle firsthand—although I’m a writer and doula, I felt totally stuck on how to start writing my own birth story after having my son in 2018. I’m not really a perfectionist, but I wanted to get it right and produce something that felt authentic, true, and special, something both myself and my family could treasure well into the future. No pressure, right? :)
But seriously—there’s nothing wrong with wanting to know how to write your birth story! Birth matters, and so do our birth stories.
Here’s the process I followed, and my general advice to you on how to write your birth story.
1. Give Yourself Time
Although much of the advice here on the internet will tell you to write down your birth story ASAP after birth, I don’t necessarily agree. While that’s not bad advice, I don’t think it works for everyone. You’re exhausted, adjusting, recovering. Being reflective probably isn’t the first thing on your mind (or to do list!)
While it’s great to do the birth story soon after birth (or least make some notes), I’m here to tell you that it’s fine to take time, if you feel like you need time. It won’t lessen the quality of your story when you do write it.
2. Ground Yourself
Writing about such an important and life-changing event (no matter what happened during your birth) can be intense! For that reason, I recommend you ground yourself in some way before you write. Take some deep breaths, meditate a bit, listen to some favorite calming music, light a candle, do some stretches….be intentional in your setting of the space to remember and write.
3. Situate Your Birth Story In Time (And In Your Life)
Giving birth is a big day, yes. But it’s not the only day that affected your story. Consider including details about conception, pregnancy, birth preparation, and more, including your own ideas and plans for births both before, during, and after the event.
Consider your past, too. What messages about birth did you get in your upbringing? What beliefs or ideas were you exposed to about the process of pregnancy, birth, and more? These can deeply affect us and our own birth stories.
I recommend thinking about it in terms of “before” “during” and “after” and making some notes about what you were feeling and thinking (as well as what was happening!) before, during, and after birth. These markers can help provide a framework to follow.
4. Ask Others For Help
Engage your partner, doula, family members, or other support people who were present at your birth. What did they see, notice, feel, hear? What do they remember? What stands out to them?
Note that their experience of the birth may be very different than yours, so prepare for that emotionally. Set boundaries around speaking with them about it if you feel like it could become a triggering or difficult conversation.
5. Decide Your Format
Although it certainly makes for a satisfying read, you don’t have to write the typical “went into labor, baby was born, done!” chronological birth story.
This is your story. Be creative with your form and format! Do a poem, Instagram caption, or a flashback. Tell the story from your baby’s point of view (or your uterus’s!). Do a list format, or a photo essay, or anything that feels right to you. Be creative and know that the only requirement is that your birth story reflects your own truth.
6. Focus on Details
What makes a birth story fun and interesting to read—other than the fact that it’s a transformative event, of course—is often the details (particularly sensory ones). What you felt, saw, smelled, touched. The gentle swoosh of your baby’s heart rate on the monitor. The worn hospital gown. The string of lights reflected in the birth pool. The kind eyes of the anesthesiologist behind his mask. Your baby’s pink, wrinkly feet.
What concrete details can you remember? Where and how can you sprinkle them throughout your story? Close your eyes and zoom in. What details would bring you right back to that day, if you’re reading your story in thirty years?
The Writing Your Birth Story Online Course (just $39!)
If you need a little help, I’ve created Writing Your Birth Story, an online course that (you guessed it!) helps parents write their birth stories. Writing Your Birth Story is for parents who want to have a memorable story for themselves or for a family keepsake, but who are feeling stuck, strapped for time, or just plain overwhelmed at the thought of sitting down to write such an important life event.
You don’t have to be a “good writer” to write a good birth story. The course will show you easy ways to tap into your own experience to produce a compelling, memorable story. You don’t have to have had a “good birth” to use this course, either. I’ve taken special care to include information on birth trauma and to make the overall course trauma-aware, keeping in mind that giving birth is not a positive experience for many people.
Writing Your Birth Story is inclusive of all birthing people, scenarios, situations, and choices, although it is geared towards people who had live births. My experience and perspective as a writer and doula informed every aspect of the course—it honors the beautiful multiplicity of birth itself while guiding students through their individual writing processes.
It’s $39. 15% of profits go to a BIPOC-led and centered person, group or organization.
However you approach your story, I have full confidence you’ll write a birth story that feels truthful and meaningful to you. Happy writing!