In the first few raw days after giving birth to her seventh child, Arianna Alloway noticed that her own interpretation of her birth story felt muddled and confusing. Navigating these feelings led her to create a workbook designed to support anyone working through trauma or heaviness from a birthing experience.
When reflecting on her most recent birth experience, Arianna reveals she had feelings of sadness, regret, disappointment, and anger. She felt unheard and disrespected. Yet, when she was asked about her daughter’s birth, the story she shared differed from her own internal narrative. She realized she was sharing a feel-good, easily accepted version of her story, similar to many other mothers whom she had connected with. It became apparent to Arianna that there is a blanket-like silencing within pockets of our birth stories. She feels that fear of judgment or offending others prevents many women from fully expressing all of the emotions, or trauma, they feel after giving birth.
“We are so deeply programmed to believe the only emotions we should be feeling after the birth of a healthy baby are love and gratitude. But birth and a woman stepping into motherhood, no matter if it’s her first or tenth, is far too complex, deeply and intimately detailed for it to bring with it only a handful of feelings.”
Through this realization, Arianna was inspired to create a safe space for mothers to reflect on their experience—Illuminating HerStory: A Safe Space to Reflect, Rebuild, and Reclaim your Birth Story was born. She believes storytelling to be potent medicine and her own experience, which she describes as a push for healing, informed the guidance in her book.
Arianna was able to rebuild her own internal narrative (or HerStory) once she gave herself permission to validate and honor the emotions that surfaced surrounding her birth journey. She kept a journal and notes during her process with the intent to assist others. Her hope is that, by working through the tools in her book, mothers will feel less alone or even less shame in feeling their way through such an expansive transition.
”As more of us share and step out of this programmed head space to hold this silencing together, more mamas will feel supported enough to follow. The more comfortable we become in working through our own vulnerability, the better and more efficiently we can hold others through the sacred reintegration hat happens within the postpartum and beyond.”
Arianna’s beautiful book encouraged me to revisit my birthing experiences. I feel fortunate to have been gifted a space to share my most recent birth story without judgment or inquiry a few days after my son was born. Even so, I found working through the pages of Illuminating HerStory quite healing for me. I realized that I still had a few emotions surrounding my son’s birth that I had not yet acknowledged and released. I also became aware, through her suggested birth labyrinth activity, that I held onto quite a bit of self-doubt during both of my labors. I am grateful for her guidance as I sat with and processed these emotions.
Though the pages of Arianna’s workbook you will find her wisdoms, affirmations, and recommendations to assist you with creating your own true, healing narrative postpartum. An absolute gift for yourself or anyone else who may wish to reflect on a birthing experience.
Photo: Arianna Alloway/Illuminating HerStory