What Are Birth Stories?
The practice of writing and sharing personal birth stories is a growing phenomenon in the U.S. These stories are shared to inspire, comfort, empower, and entertain women and families who have gone through, or are about to go through, the birth process. If you or a partner has recently given birth, you may have read a few in preparation for “what to expect”. You may have written and shared your own.
Women may share birth stories in birth classes and through personal emails and blogs. Popular pregnancy and parenting websites have started to post select stories for wider public readership. A few websites have sprung up dedicated to collecting and archiving individually submitted stories (see the Birth Stories in Media page for examples).
We applaud this grassroots movement, but have noted that most stories are shared by U.S. women, many giving birth at home or in birthing centers, and many are of relatively privileged economic and educational status.
Obviously, there is a much larger population of women giving birth who are not taking part in this movement. The mediums through which to read and share birth stories are still limited. Women giving birth under different circumstances may not connect with stories coming from a fairly circumspect group of U.S. women, and most importantly, their stories are not being told.
We are asking for your help in building an online global archive of birth stories. As anthropologists working with diverse families across the world, we are uniquely positioned to facilitate this. Collectively, these stories would showcase a greater diversity of birth experiences, values, and customs around the world, and we hope, expand the audience of families who might benefit from reading and sharing these personal stories.
This is not a research project. However, we do think this project will promote public engagement with anthropology and anthropological research. Different cultures and customs may be highlighted through the individual stories and links to the relevant peoples and research sites. The collection of narratives will speak simultaneously to human diversity and universals. Publishing these stories online with photos, audio, video, and multiple translations will provide for a truly public and inclusive conversation about human birth experiences.