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Should you ever, ever share your birth story?

It was when I said, “I felt like I was dying so I gave my baby a kiss goodbye”, that my pregnant friend started shifting uncomfortably in her chair.

It was the crescendo of my birth story and I had told it to so many people that I had become an expert at telling it for maximum effect. It was happy, sad, funny, solemn, and judging by the look on my friend’s face, absolutely terrifying.

Just as an FYI, while giving birth to my first child by emergency c-section, I had a little too much medication injected into me and lost feeling in my right arm and the right side of my face and felt like I was dying…

It’s normal to want to share your birth story with others. Giving birth is one of the craziest, extreme, life-changing things you will ever do. Telling everyone all about it is therapeutic. It’s all you want to talk about for a while. And people ask, even my unfortunate pregnant friend who looked decidedly like she was regretting her curiosity.

Jo Abi baby
Jo Abi after the birth of her son. Image: supplied.

The telling of birth stories is also contagious. Recently at work, when our colleague went into labour, all the mums started word-vomiting their birth stories, much to the shock and horror of the non-mums who immediately cancelled any plans to have children as a result. If they could have gouged their eyes out and cut their ears off I think they would have.

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Reactions like that really do give you pause and cause you to ask, “Should I be sharing my birth story?” So we asked the question, and the answers were mixed. Mostly it was mums defending their right to tell their own birth stories.

“Yes!! I have two beautiful babies,” Brandi said. “My first was complete hell, but worth it. My second was easy as could be and I’d have 20 if it were always that easy. Women should stick together. Just because it can be hell, its so worth it and I wish I had been more prepared the first time.”

“I love sharing my experience of birth,” Vicki confirmed, “because it was so positive, it seems only the scary stories make it out there when you’re looking for reassurance.”

Then, like the contagion that it is, the discussion gave way to the telling of birth stories…

“I would, and have I have an incompetent cervix so I had 2 surgeries per pregnancy one to tie my cervix closed (cervical cerclage) and then another surgery around 36 weeks to untie it so I could go into labour naturally.”

Gee, thanks Emilie.

“I was in a lot of pain, and the doctor for my epidural got into a fight with my mom when I was laying there crying, and he left saying he can’t deal with her, and he will be back later cause he needed to cool down, the nurses saw I was crying and like begging for the epidural so they put that painkiller in my IV.”

Um, thanks Angelina.

See, we just can’t help ourselves. It just comes out. We have a right to tell our birth stories in graphic detail, damn it. If you don’t want to know, don’t ask!

I don’t share my birth stories any more. I have three juicy ones now and two of them would make a great episode of Grey’s Anatomy. For this reason I tend to keep the information to myself. I’ve learned that even if people ask about it, they want a PG version of it or they want it to be a bit funny, like a scene out of the movie What to Expect When You’re Expecting. On the other hand, if I tell them about my one good birth story, I worry that I am misleading them into thinking that childbirth is easy.

It’s a lose-lose situation, except the winning bit, where you end up with a beautiful little baby.

The truth is that sometimes birth is easy, and sometimes it isn’t. But we deal with it. We get through it. And we do it again and again.

Feeling brave? Have a look at this incredible collection of birth photographs from Cradled Creations

Want more like this? Try these:

“This is a week by week photo diary of my body after the birth of my second child.”

“I was in a surreal, freeze-framed world, watching her first moments of life.”

The new type of photo pregnant women are taking of themselves.