How to Write a Birth Story Timeline

How to Write a Birth Story Timeline

We talk about the important of writing and telling birth stories here at TRC on the reg. They help inform our culture of the breathtakingly wide range of normal birth, they help us process and place this life-changing event into the larger context of our lives and they help us introduce our offspring and our newly-minted parental identities to our Village. But I never said it was easy.

I know there’s a lot going on in those early days of parenting and the details of birth fade surprisingly quickly so use this tool to help jog your memory back to those moments; the good, the bad, the triumphant, the dark, the grueling, the beautiful, and the joyful ones.

This list just gets you started so take it and run with it because this is your story, baby.

Birth Story Timeline Prompts


  • What was my pregnancy like? 
  • What were the joys?
  • What were the challenges?
  • How did my body change?
  • What was I concerned about?
  • How did I prepare for labor, birth, and postpartum?
  • What did I learn about myself?


  • What was the time between the end of pregnancy and the beginning of pregnancy like for me?
  • How long did this stage last?
  • Where was I and what was I doing  when labor started?
  • What did those first moments feel like?
  • How did I cope with early labor?
  • What was it like to tell my partner?
  • What was it like to call my provider/ doula?
  • How did I feel as we moved to our birth location? 
  • What was the car ride and transition like?
  • If induced, what was it like to make that decision? How did the process start?
  • What was triage like?


  • How long did this stage last?
  • Who was in attendance? When did the members of my birth team join me?
  • What did the contractions feel like?
  • What positions did I use most?
  • What mental or emotional techniques helped the most?
  • What physical coping skills helped the most (breathing, vocalizations, movements)?
  • What tools did I use (TENS, birth ball, tub, shower)?
  • What coping tools didn’t work this time?
  • What were cervical checks like? How did it feel mentally or emotionally?
  • Was progress deemed quick or slow and how did that label feel?
  • Did we use any medication or tools to change my labor pattern?
  • What was the most physically intense part of labor?
  • What was the most mentally or emotionally intense part of labor?
  • What kind of pain management did I use and what was the decision like? What was the process like? Were there any side effects?
  • What were the other symptoms of labor (vomiting or nausea, back pain, shaking)?
  • How did my team encourage me?
  • When did I feel most connected to my baby or partner?
  • What did I eat or drink?
  • When did I rest?
  • What did I wear?
  • Was there music playing or ambient sounds?
  • Did we have oils diffusing or other scents?
  • What was the hardest decision I made?
  • How did my baby cope with labor?


  • How long did this stage last?
  • How did pushing start?
  • What did pushing feel like?
  • What was going through my head as I pushed?
  • What position(s) did I push in? Birth in?
  • Who was present for delivery?
  • How did my birth team encourage me?
  • Did we have any interventions during pushing (oxygen, episiotomy, vacuum)?


  • What was it like to make the decision for a cesarean birth?
  • How did it feel emotionally or mentally?
  • What was I thinking as I prepared for surgery?
  • What was the atmosphere in the OR?
  • Who was present for delivery?
  • How did my birth team encourage me?
  • How long this stage last?


  • What time was birth?
  • What was it like to meet my baby for the first time?
  • What was my partner’s reaction?
  • What was the first thing I said after birth or to my baby?
  • Who cut the baby’s cord?
  • What did my baby look like? Sound like? Smell like? Feel like? What was any skin-to-skin time like?
  • Did the baby need any help breathing?
  • Did we have any other complications?
  • What was it like to birth the placenta? What did it look like?
  • Did I need any repairs and what was that like?
  • What was it like to feed the baby for the first time?
  • What was the first thing I ate after birth?
  • Who were our first visitors?

Those who want to share with a wider audience are invited to submit stories to our Community Birth Stories Project.

This post is part of our Birth Stories series:

How to Debrief Your Birth | How to Write Your Birth Story


How to Write Your Birth Story

How to Write Your Birth Story

In a culture as widely devoid of postpartum ritual like we are here in the United States writing and sharing our birth stories begins to fill that gap of how we introduce our children and our new identities to our Village. Not only is our culture desperately in need of hearing and celebrating a wide range of normal human birth, but telling our stories is helpful for processing this single vivid experience that changes our lives forever.

Have you ever wanted to write your birth story but felt stuck or overwhelmed? Use this guide to break it down into manageable steps.

How to Write Your Birth Story

1. Do it as soon as you can. I know, there’s a lot going on as brand new parents but the details fade surprisingly quickly. That said, it’s never too late to get started. Partners, too, should take the time to write out the story from their perspective, but try not to corroborate stories at this stage.

2. Get in the headspace. Quiet moments are hard to come by when you have a newborn but eliminate distractions while you do this. If it feels safe to return to the birthroom in your memory you can let your senses help by cranking your labor playlist, sniffing the oil you had diffusing, and have a calming cup of tea nearby. Be prepared to feel strong or conflicted emotions and be gentle with yourself.

3. Write down as much as you can as quickly as you can. This is a rough draft so don’t worry about the storytelling, or getting the timeline and details perfect, just get the bulk of the story down onto paper. Focus on the big moments and how you felt. Dictating to someone or a talk-to-text app is a great way to get it out hands-free. DON’T judge. This is important. Let the story come as it will and try not to judge actions or feelings along the way just get it out. Write about the good, bad, ugly, beautiful, scary, triumphant, grueling, dark, powerful and the joyful parts. Take as much time as you need between this step and the next.

4. Enlist other perspectives. Yours is the most important story and you do not need to include the input of others. But asking your partner, your provider, your doula, your birth photographer or others for their viewpoint can lend missing context to your own experiences especially when it comes to nailing down blank spots in your timeline. Phone calls, text messages, your contraction timer and photo timestamps can help, too. You might also consider asking for your medical records. Add any details you want to your notes but keep in mind that you are not required to change your truth based on anyone else’s perspective.

TIP: Consider asking a member of your birth team ahead of time to write down the times of important moments during labor as long as it doesn’t distract them from supporting you.

5. Reflect. Spend time thinking about how you felt during all the key parts of labor, about the birth in the context of your pregnancy, the immediate postpartum, your relationship with your partner and your experience as a parent. Where were the highs and lows? Use our Birth Debrief to guide you through reflecting on your birth. Again, don’t judge and be so very gentle with yourself.

6. Collect and edit. Now bring it all together. Start with a timeline of events, use our Birth Timeline Prompts to help jog your memory. Take all of the details you’ve gleaned so far and edit, clarify, and piece it all together. Add as much or as little detail as you want. This step can take as long as you need.

7. Share, but only if you want. As much as our culture needs real, normal birth education no one is owed the story of your baby’s arrival and your birth into parenthood, so share only as you desire and feel safe doing so. Ultimately, this story is for you and your benefit.

Those who do want to share with a wider audience are invited to submit stories to our Community Birth Stories Project.

This post is part of our Birth Stories series:

How to Debrief Your Birth | Birth Story Timeline Prompts


Every Question You Need to Ask Your Homebirth Midwife

Every Question You Need to Ask Your Homebirth Midwife

45+ GOOD QUESTIONS — for you home birth midwife

This is a list of every question we could think to ask your homebirth midwife. It’s another freaking huge list of questions, guys. You won’t need all of them at first. In fact, most of them you will most likely use as a reference for your choices and options and an understanding of how your midwife practices along the way. We *starred the ones that might be most useful during an interview, but feel free to use this guide as a way to jog your brain to ask the questions that are most important to you.

We suggest you ask open-ended, rather than yes/no questions, wherever possible. “How often do you see…?” “What do families who birth with you usually choose…?” “How will you support us during…?” “What are your policies regarding XXX procedure or situation…?” Home- and birth center-based care tends to be far more flexible and personalized than hospital-based so these may give you a better understanding of where your midwife’s experience lies.

1. *How long have you been in practice? How many births have you attended? How many of those births were you the primary midwife?

2. *What is your training and certification (CNM, CPM, PM or Lay-midwife)? What professional associations are you a member of? If you are a CNM how long were you a nurse before becoming a midwife? Did you do other birth or pregnancy work before becoming a midwife? What other services do you provide?

3. *Are you licensed to deliver in my state? If no, why not? Does your status affect your transfer protocol? (Midwives have different reasons for choosing to be licensed or not, make sure their priorities align with yours)

4. *What is the cost of care and what is included? How often are clients reimbursed the full fee by their insurance? Do you work with a billing agency? Do you offer payment plans or discounts for early payment in full?

5. *How do I contact you for questions and concerns during pregnancy? How do I contact you during labor?

6. *How many clients do you take per month on average? Do you have a cap on how many you will take? When do you consider yourself “on-call” for me? What do you do if two families are in labor at the same time?

7. *Do you work with other midwives? Who is your back-up? Who are your assistants and what is their training? Can I provide my own birth assistant? Do you work with a student? How many people can I expect to be on my birth team?

8. *Are you and your team neonatal resuscitation certified? Have you ever had to resuscitate a baby? Are you and your team CPR certified? Have you ever had to resuscitate a birthing person? How recently have you recertified?

9. *Do you recommend doulas? Do you recommend childbirth education classes? Do you work with birth photographers?

10. How often do you recommend acupuncturists, chiropractors and massage therapists?

11. Do you attend VBAC/ VBA2C/ VBA3C / Multiples/ Breech births? How many have you attended? Have you completed extra trainings for those scenarios?

12. *Do you offer water birth? How often do your clients deliver in the water? Does a tub rental come as part of my package? Do you have a recommendation for where to rent or buy your favorite pool? Are you comfortable delivering in my bathtub?

13. *What are your prenatal visits like? How long are they? Where do they take place? How often are they scheduled? May I invite friends and family members to attend?

14. What are your policies or recommendations regarding urine dips, basic blood tests and labs, genetic testing, routine ultrasounds and growth scans, gestational diabetes testing, group beta strep testing, iron levels testing? Are there any you don’t recommend declining? Can you draw blood or will we need to use an outside lab?

15. What is your philosophy on weight gain, nutrition, prenatal supplements, and exercise? We will receive counseling or education on those topics?

16. *Do you provide our birth kit? If not, do you have a preferred supplier? What else will we need to provide?

17. Are there any induction methods that you are comfortable using (stretch and sweep, foley bulb, castor oil, black and blue cohosh, breaking waters) and when might you suggest them? How often do you transfer care for postdates induction?

18. *What is the most common reason that your clients transfer to the hospital? What is your transfer rate?

19. *What is your relationship with area hospitals? Have you been to my nearest hospital before? Are there any local hospitals that you are not comfortable transferring to, and why? Will you remain present if we transfer, and if no, why not? How would my medical records be transferred (digital, on paper, faxed, hand delivered)? Do you have an OB or practice that you refer to for transfers when complications arise during pregnancy?

20. *What do you consider “high-risk”? Under what conditions would you absolutely transfer care? What conditions would make you consider transferring care during pregnancy? During labor? After birth?

21. To what gestation are you comfortable waiting? What is your standard protocol for clients going over 40 weeks?

22. When can I expect you to join me in labor? Will you ever leave a labor? How will you provide support during early labor?

23. How often do you monitor the baby during labor? Is your doppler waterproof? What do you consider a non-reassuring heart tone? How often do you take the birthing person’s vitals?

24. How often do you perform vaginal exams during pregnancy? During labor? What would you say if I refused a check?

25. What tools do you use to help families through the intensity of labor? What would you say if I asked you for pain relief or to be transferred to the hospital for pain relief?

26. Do you carry and administer any herbs and in what situations? Do you carry and administer any medications (Pitocin Cytotec, Methergine) and in what situations? Do you carry and administer IVs and in what situations? What other tools do you bring to births (birth stool, rebozo)? How do you handle a hemorrhage?

27. Do you have any additional training in herbs, homeopathics, essential oils or acupressure for labor and birth?

28. How do you handle a very long labor? How do you handle a precipitous labor?

29. How do you coach families through pushing? What do you do to help minimize tearing? Do you ever let the birthing person or another member of the birth team catch the baby?

30. How long do you usually leave the cord intact? How long are you comfortable waiting for a placenta?

31. What is your philosophy on placenta encapsulation?

32. *Are you comfortable suturing? Under what conditions would you feel a repair requires a hospital transfer?

33. What would it look like to transfer a baby to the hospital if needed after birth? What would it look like to transfer a birthing person to the hospital after birth?

34.  Have you ever lost a baby or birthing person and what were the circumstances?

35. *How long do you stay after birth? Will you help my family clean up/break down the birth pool?

36. *How many postpartum visits can I expect? Will all of those take place in my home? What changes if I transfer and deliver in a hospital? Does your visit include care for the baby? Will you be available for well-woman visits?

37. What other postpartum resources do you offer your clients?

38. Can you administer Vitamin K and Erythromycin if we want? Can you administer the PKU test or will we need to see our pediatrician? Will you administer Rhogam if needed? Can you provide us with a hearing screening, and if not, where do you recommend clients go?

39. Is there anything you will need from us to file the birth certificate?

40. What kind of breastfeeding support do you offer? Do you have any extra breastfeeding training or certifications? Do you have local IBCLCs that you recommend?

41. *How would you describe your style of midwifery?

42. *What inspired you to become a midwife?

43. How do your personal birth experiences inform your midwifery work? (Great midwives don’t need to have had children)

44. *What is your philosophy on continuing education?

45. *What are your expectations for your clients?

Questions to ask yourself:

  • How does a visit with this midwife make you feel?
  • Is the midwife able to fully address any concerns you have? How about the concerns of your partner?
  • Do you feel comfortable in their presence? With them in your home?

I also like this list of questions to ask yourself to discern if homebirth is the right choice for your family.

_ _ _ _ _

If you think we missed anything please drop us a line and let us know what to add!

If you aren’t planning a homebirth, or you are doing co-care with an OB or just want to be prepared in case of a hospital transfer you might enjoy this post on Every Question You Need to Ask on Your Hospital Tour

Photo: Bergen Howlett Photography