How to Debrief Your Birth

How to Debrief Your Birth

When I was pregnant with my eldest all I could think about was the moment when I was going to meet my baby for the very first time. The daisy-chain of days leading up to that moment were in sharp focus in my imagination while the weeks and months after that glorious moment were little more than a hazy blur. I had carefully planned my steps leading to birth, but it turns out that I didn’t know how to walk away from it.

One of the things I’m passionate about as a doula and childbirth educator is not only to help families prepare for birth, to climb that brutal and beautiful mountain along side them, but to walk with them down the other side into life after birth, too, because birth is only the beginning, baby.

Just as you would debrief after completing a project or an event, new parents need a safe way to process this massive occasion in their lives. With most postpartum care in the US currently limited to just one or two check-ins with your provider we wanted to create a tool to help guide families through the process.

This tool is not designed to change your perspective of your birth, necessarily, but to help place it in the larger context of your life and psyche. While it can be a helpful guide for beginning to write your birth story it’s less about creating a narrative or storyline, and more about embracing our feelings about the day our children were born, even when those feelings aren’t very pretty.

Give yourself a chunk of quiet, uninterrupted alone time to do this exercise. Expect to feel complicated or conflicting emotions, so go slow and be extra gentle with yourself. Use this tool to process a recent birth, to begin writing your birth story or to reflect on previous births in preparation of a pending one.

Birth Debrief Reflections

  • What was my pregnancy like? What were the joys and challenges?
  • How was labor different than I was expecting?
  • Is there anything I wish I could have done differently?
  • What was the most physically challenging part of labor?
  • What was the most mentally or emotionally challenging part of labor?
  • What coping tools worked best for me?
  • What coping tools didn’t work for me this time?
  • What was the hardest decision we made?
  • When did I feel most connected to my partner or baby?
  • How did my birth team support me well?
  • Where did I not get enough support?
  • What is one thing I wish I would have said to my birth team?
  • When did I feel powerful?
  • When was I proud of myself?
  • One funny moment was …
  • What was it like to meet my baby for the first time?
  • How was it different than I imagined?
  • What is one thing I know now that I wish I knew before labor?
  • What was the immediate postpartum like?
  • How was I supported well?
  • Where did I not get enough support?
  • What did I learn about myself?
  • In what ways did this experience change my relationship with my partner?
  • Is there anything I would choose to do differently if there is a next time?

We didn’t forget papas and partners, who need to process their birth experiences, too, especially when our culture gives them so little encouragement to do so.

This post is part of our Birth Stories series:

How to Debrief Your Birth | Birth Story Timeline Prompt | Community Birth Stories Project


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