A Call to Support - Removing Scare Tactics and Judgement from Pregnancy, Labor & Postpartum Conversations
When I was pregnant and even now as a new mother, I seem to experience a weekly barrage of ‘horror’ storytelling and aggressive advice-giving about pregnancy, labor, and postpartum. My responses depend on the situation, but most the time I do my best to be polite and bring it back to the person speaking with a quick exit. “That must have been awful…well look at the time, got to go…”
Sadly almost all of my prenatal yogis talk about ‘fear’ stories they hear and it can be really unsettling. I started to reflect on why we feel it is necessary to ‘warn’ others. Some have good intentions and others like to boast about their misery. Sometimes it can even be a way to prove who is a 'better mom’. An example of all three combined into one, “Breastfeeding was the most painful experience of my life, but I did it anyway, every day crying…” At the root of it, let’s be honest – this doesn’t help.
I would love to propose a new way to support women and men going through this amazing, messy, emotional, beautiful time:
#1 Ask ‘How Are You?’ and really LISTEN.
When you are pregnant or a new parent the last thing you need is someone talking AT you. When a friend looks me in the eye and says ‘how are you?’ with a genuine tone ready to listen I almost melt. If they aren’t up for talking, skip down to point number three below.
#2 Provide Anecdotal remarks as appropriate with a solution focus/not misery emphasis.
If they express fear about labor, ask about breastfeeding, etc… focus on what helped you navigate the situation. Instead of saying how dreadful things were, tell them what helped you during a difficult time. Great examples – “Having a doula made all the difference in my confidence level before and during birth.” Or “Attending a local breastfeeding group helped me navigate some discomfort.”
I personally mention to students that I experienced postpartum depression & anxiety to help shine a light on the secrecy and shame women have around these feelings. Instead of focusing on the negative, I make sure to let them know there is a ton of help out there and the relief I felt when I received it.
#3 Remind Every Mother/Father
“You are doing an amazing job!!” Because seriously, they are.
#4 Healthy ‘Venting’ is 100% OK!! Make sure it is a mutual/positive experience!
There are crazy things that happen during pregnancy, labor, and postpartum. I appreciate sitting with other mothers that are in the thick of it. This is a great way to heal and know you are not alone with people that truly ‘get it’.
Let's start working together to stop parenting scare stories and create a community of support for every family with the courage and heart to usher another soul into this world.
For those pregnant mommas, I encourage you to join a prenatal yoga class! This is an awesome way to have healthy conversations and release any awful stories you may have heard, along with amazing support for your body, mind and soul. Join me Saturdays Tosa Yoga at 8:30am or I encourage you to attend class at Authentic Birth Center with Amy Colwell Bluhm!