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The importance of positive birth stories

In hypnobirthing we bang on about the importance of positive birth stories and avoiding negative ones, but this piece of research I stumbled across reinforces this so much!

In 2017 a study was published looking at the effect that birth stories may have on first time mum’s understandings of birth, and whether birth stories had a positive or negative influence on listeners, steering them towards either medical or midwifery-led models of care.

Various “themes” of birth story were shown to the women, from “horror stories” to “media portayal“ and positive birth stories.

The study found that when the participants heard positive birth stories, the women believed them to be an anomaly and ‘too perfect and wonderful’ to be believed. So conditioned were the participants to hearing stories about interventions and about women birthing on a bed in ‘excruciating pain’, they believed that the positive birth stories must have had details left out, and questioned the truth of the stories.

This research highlights the importance of being selective in the birth stories you expose yourself to throughout pregnancy, and why watching, reading and listening to positive birth stories is vital for birth prep. The negative associations deeply embedded in a pregnant person’s subconscious are created over decades of exposure, to the extent that we question the legitimacy of genuine positive stories of birth. Those negative biases ultimately influence our choices for birth place and mode of birth, which can have a lasting, traumatic and negative impact physically and mentally on both mother and baby. Both watching videos of real and positive births, along with hearing positive birth stories, can help to readdress those bias and provide confidence In our bodies, our babies and our birth choices. Repeated exposure is important to create those new associations in our brains!

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