There is a lot of information made available to first-time mothers. Books, videos, everyone and their mother will fill you with so much information that it’s easy to feel completely prepared for the new baby. What we seem to be missing, however, are the issues that mama will encounter. Pregnancy and the mental and physical changes that accompany it can shock us all. We can read books and follow blogs telling us exactly “what to expect” but in my experience, and the experience of mommy friends and acquaintances, these resources barely scratch the surface of what can potentially go on during pregnancy, labor, birth, and postpartum.
I recently struck up a discussion about such things in an online mommy forum that I’m a member of. About 20 women contributed to the conversation. We discussed everything from the amount of blood present during labor to not understanding the affects antibiotics during labor can have on mama and baby both, postpartum. We talked about how unaware all of us were, we didn’t know to expect postpartum contractions, that nursing comes with many different types of pains, and expecting breastfeeding support simply isn’t enough; you need a support plan, someone knowledgeable at your disposal because nursing a child doesn’t come as naturally as we expect.
A decent amount of us had no idea that labor pain could be felt in our hips, thighs, and back more than in the pelvic area and that sometimes those ”breaks” between contractions are totally nonexistent. Having an understanding of the not so pretty can keep a laboring woman confidant and fearless.
Bladder issues were discussed in detail. Some of us left without control, some of us struggling with retention. The big one for me was realizing that I was not the only woman that struggled with unfamiliar emotions post birth.
No one had ever mentioned that the relationship with my significant other would suffer; because of this lack of discourse families are left struggling, unaware of the regularity of it all.
We feel alone, lost, and confused. No one ever said “This is okay. This is normal. You are not alone.” Lastly, no one ever told any of us that it is OK to not be happy with your experience with the labor and birth of your child.
Simply hearing “me too” can be significantly healing.
Walking away from the conversation, I’ve realized how big of a need and want there is for help. The need for support doesn’t end because a baby is earth side. As one mother said “Having a healthy baby is important but mama is also important.” We can’t forget that. It really does “take a village” and that is OK.
In closing, I urge all new and seasoned mothers to reach out and find or create your “village.” Utilize social media, meet up groups, and parks, libraries, and local mom hot spots. Remember you’re not alone and someone is waiting to hear your story and respond… me too.