Retrieving your birth
a healing step article by Melissa Bruijn
Many women who have had a difficult or traumatic birth retrieve their Birth Notes to aid in the healing process, and in preparation for a subsequent birth. Going over your notes with a midwife who understands that birth matters can be very powerful in moving a woman to a new level of healing and knowledge.
Guess what I found out!
When one woman went over her Birth Notes from her traumatic caesarean birth, translated and explained by Debby from Birthalk, she made an interesting discovery.
The notes said that I had dilated 2cm more than I had remembered! My emotions moved from anger that my body had been working so well yet still I was sectioned, to excitement to see that my body had not failed me quite as I had been led to believe.
The courage and confidence boost this information gave me was palpable, and really paved the way for my journey towards my empowering vbac."
Now I know what to grieve
Seeing in black and white the progress of what may have been a traumatic experience can be a difficult thing. But it may allow you to pinpoint areas that you need to process and grieve over to truly heal. One woman found just seeing her signature consenting to a caesarean to be an extremely emotive moment. She felt it signified "the end of my innocence", and finally allowed herself to grieve for the trauma and pain that followed the birth. "Every new aspect that I allowed myself to acknowledge and grieve led me closer to healing, and making peace with the experience."
Rewriting the Birth story
Rewriting your story with this new information from the Birth Notes can be another cathartic tool, enabling a woman to really grasp exactly what happened, and feel very certain about aspects of the birth that may have been question marks for her earlier. Some women find that this process enables them to reclaim the birth experience as their own, an important step towards healing.
How do I get my Notes?
Debby Gould from Birthtalk says, "To retrieve your notes, you will need to ask for certain information, otherwise a brief outline may be all that is offered." To gain as much information as possible, Debby recommends writing to Medical Records at the hospital where your baby was born (there may be a fee involved so call first), & ask for your full notes including:
> progress notes
> partogram (labour record)
> theatre notes and anaesthetic record if you went to theatre
> if lots of medication- med. chart
> antenatal notes if there were any problems in your pregnancy or if they induced you
for some reason
> baby notes if any baby concerns like a special care nursery admission.
Now what do I do?
If you want assistance in interpreting the notes once you have them, you are welcome to contact Birthtalk. If it is just a few points you need explained, feel free to bring your Notes along to a Birthtalk meeting, where Debby Gould, Birthtalk's co-founder and midwife, can give a brief rundown on your query. If you want a more in-depth exploration of "what happened" according to the Birth Notes, Debby also offers private consultations where she can sit with you and really work through the whole file, which can be extremely informative and cathartic.