“She Believed She Could” – why this saying has no place in birth.

We’e often seen this quote passed around natural birth groups online :

“She believed she could….so she did.”

And it’s always bothered us. Because while we wish it was true –  we wish that determination was enough – unfortunately in our birthing culture, it often isn’t.

And because most women don’t know that – the quote can create a lot of unnecessary self-blame, guilt, shame and feelings of failure.

So we created a new image instead, and a new explanation, to shine a light on the other factors that can impact upon the direction a woman’s birth follows, and why this quote is simply untrue – at least in the world of birth.

We shared the image and explanation (below) on Facebook recently, and received an outpouring of acknowledgement from women who have struggled with the original ‘She believe she could…’ quote, and who found our new post resonated with them and their experience.

We heard responses such as:

“You ladies have nailed it.”

“So. Much. This.”


“This is perfect. I have nothing more to add.”

So we wanted to share the quote and explanation here as well, to reach more women who might feel that familiar sinking feeling when that original quote pops up in their Newsfeed.

THIS is why we created our blog. Because THIS is the Truth About Traumatic Birth.


She believed she could. And she probably could.

But it would be easier with the appropriate support and antenatal education and birthing environment and information to enable her body to feel safe, and thus release those amazing birthing hormones, and birth her child.

Or to enable her to feel safe enough to make informed decisions about her care, and feel empowered and like she ‘could’ regardless of the path her birth ended up taking.

But if she couldn’t…it’s likely because she didn’t have access to these things. And that isn’t her fault. And she needs to know that if she couldn’t…she’s not alone. And maybe it’s not that she couldn’t. But that she SHOULDN’T.

That is…

She shouldn’t be put in a position where she is birthing without these things in place. Without the right support, information, or environment that are optimal for a positive, empowered birth.

She shouldn’t be led to believe that it’s determination that will see her through the flaws in our maternal health system, in our antenatal education, in our culture.

She shouldn’t be led to believe that self-belief will see her through medical complications beyond her control, when instead she needs guidance, nurturing, evidence-based information and support to make informed choices.

She shouldn’t be left to pick up the pieces, believing it was her fault. Believing that it was just that she couldn’t.

Because it’s not true.

Belief is often simply not enough.

Authors of ‘How to Heal a Bad Birth’

©Melissa Bruijn and Debby Gould, Birthtalk.org 2017.

Melissa and Debby are the authors of How to Heal a Bad Birth : making sense, making peace and moving on. This ground-breaking self-help book takes the reader on a ‘Choose your own adventure’ style of healing journey… because every woman’s path to healing will be different. The pages are filled with heartfelt quotes from women, facts and insights about birth trauma, and ideas for dealing with common emotions that arise such as sadness, guilt, feelings of failure, anger and partner issues. There are step-by-step tools for healing, and immense support and compassion contained within these pages. Say the authors : “For the past 14 years we’ve been working with women after a traumatic birth in our ‘Healing From Birth’ support sessions. Because we’ve see the impact birth can have, we are gentle with women’s hearts as they step forward and acknowledge that they are ready to take the journey to healing. And we are with you all the way.”  Go to howtohealabadbirth.com to learn more

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