"We're waiting so it is a surprise," They say.
What's really going on here?
If I throw out the phrase Mommy Wars, are you familiar? Here...let me give you a small sampling of what is on the internet. (Time article from a stay at home dad's perspective, More magazine links it to assumptions about femininity, motherhood, marriage and finance, A Washington Post article mommy wars and the ensuing social demotion.)
I believe the Mommy Wars can be boiled down to one thing: fear. Fear that choice equals judgement.
Parenthood comes with a certain amount of stress and pressure. But I don't believe women are prepared to feel the onslaught of emotions that come from other people's ideas about how to best nurture and raise their child.
"Oh you're pregnant! How wonderful. Where are you delivering? ...oh! A homebirth! How...creative of you."
"You are having a planned cesarean? Haven't you seen the research that supports vaginal birth?"
"Are you planning to co-sleep? You know crying it out just causes long term brain damage. I forget where I read that but..."
And when it comes time to deliver her baby, that mom is primed and on edge to be judged for every decision she will make regarding her child. She may question her intuition. She may feel she isn't going to be what her baby needs. She may get overwhelmed researching what the latest research says, and feel paralyzed.
This is why having labor support and/or a postpartum doula, can help. Not only will there be incredible physical and educational resources at her fingertips, but she will be able to provide an emotional support that many women don't experience in pregnancy; a completely supportive partner.
I am hired by women and their partners for many reasons, but sometimes, I have a prenatal conversation that goes something like this:
Me: Do you have any family members that will be present at your birth?
Mother: My sister (mother, friend, in-laws, etc) really wants to be at the delivery, but...Would it be bad if we didn't call her when labor starts?
Me: Have you decided on a name?
Parents look at each other: Well, we have but we aren't sharing it until he's born.
Me: Ok. I look forward to meeting him and being introduced!
Parents look at each other again: Well, we are happy to tell you but we don't want our parents to know. We just don't want to deal with them trying to change our minds.
Ok. I'm going to share something now that blows some client's minds... I offer non-judgemental support for women and their partners in labor and after.
Non-judgemental support isn't just about how a woman may choose to deliver. Non-judgemental support means I don't have an opinion on your baby's name. I don't have an opinion, as your doula, on how you want to feed your child. I don't have an opinion, as your doula, about who should be at your birth.
I know some pretty awesome "tricks" for labor and with newborn care, but there is no trick here. There is incredible value in being supported. Incredible strength comes from being empowered. So a tip if you are reading this as a support person to a pregnant woman, or new mom - be a support person she can come to when everyone else is supportive-with-strings-attached.
Authored by A Swift Doula