what do you do with a birth story? (Recap + VIDEO)
On a rainy evening on February 10th, Not Safe for Mom Group (nsfmg) gathered at The Wild, Brooklyn to process and unpack feelings that we have around our own birth stories in a safe space, guided by professionals in the birth and motherhood community.
Back in January, when I had put a call out for women’s birth stories on Instagram, I was overwhelmed by the responses. Truly, overwhelmed — not just by the sheer quantity of responses, but by the pain I felt after reading all of them. It wasn’t only because my own son’s birth was traumatic — it was because birth is something that is painful to process, and something we don’t talk about often enough. The process of birth is not something we are familiar with in our culture. How can we contextualize something that doesn’t go according to plan, when we barely understood the plan to begin with? In order to move past the guilt and through the pain of our traumatic experiences, we need to be able to unpack them — to name the feelings, and to understand (at least on some level) why certain things went the way they did during a birth.
This is why I felt it was important that we take our online conversation to a real-life meetup circle, to help our community understand birth stories within the context of the U.S. birth industry, as well as a mental health context. I was so grateful to have two experts and empaths with me to help guide the discussion: Sara Lyon (a doula, founder of Glow Birth & Body, and author of The Birth Deck by Glow) and Dr. Ingrid Nkongho (clinical psychologist specializing in new and expectant motherhood).
Some themes we dug deeply into were the meaning of “trauma”, and the symptoms to look for to know if we are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. We also talked about, “How do we know if our birth was “traumatic”, or “just a fucked up birth.” Sara Lyon mused on the inherent trauma in all birth in general — how there is a certain darkness to the moment you “enter the jaws of the beast” — i.e. that moment before the cesarean section, or before we give that final push — when we are giving of your own body for another person. And Dr. Nkongho talked about how a birth plan that doesn’t go according to “plan”, can be traumatic because it changes the narrative of how we see ourselves.
Attendees had a chance to ask the panelists questions at the end, bringing the discussion to even greater depths. We closed with a guided meditation led by Dr. Nkongho.
Full video of the event is here, where you can hear so many words of wisdom from Sara and Dr. Nkongho — you will want to take notes!
Here is our list of resources for birth, postpartum, and mental health support:
Images by RKP Photography.