We all have unique stories of how we welcome our babies. We continue to write our own stories as we do motherhood.
I know I am not alone in sharing that there were many points during my pregnancies, loss and postpartum days when I was overwhelmed with the physical, emotional and social changes- expected and unexpected. Despite being a health care provider and having access to what I consider excellent care and support, I frequently wondered:
What is happening to my body and why didn't I know about this?
Is this emotional rollercoaster I am on normal?
I am supposed to take care of myself — how do I find time to shower and eat a nutritious meal while I am caring for my baby?
How do I communicate with (and educate) my partner about all of the changes I’m experiencing, including how I am feeling? How could my partner help?
How come nobody told me how difficult feeding could be and that, with the right help, I would get beyond the hurdles and go on to confidently feed my babies however I choose to?
How do I get out the door with my baby? Where do I go? What do I bring? What if baby starts screaming? What if there is a giant poop explosion? What if my breasts become engorged and painful and I’m not able to empty them during a feed?
Why do I often find things that I thought would be so easy, like picking my child up, changing diapers and snapping onesies, so difficult because my thumbs, elbows and wrists hurt?
When will I get to meaningfully connect with my friends and have real adult conversation?
Why does it seem like every other mom has it all together?
How do I know if my baby is developing on track? Are there ways we can bond or games we can play to promote development?
The work to address the thoughts above was draining and required supports beyond traditional perinatal care. Understanding the nuances of insurance coverage related to accessing specialty providers, if any, was daunting. Did I really have access to 30 prenatal massage appointments?!
The logistics involved with making it to scheduled postnatal appointments with baby in tow were so stressful— and now with COVID regulations, it’s a new level of stress with not being able to have baby in tow. Camping out in the parenting section of Barnes & Noble with a nocturnal six month old was ridiculous. I left way more confused and frustrated than when I went in. My energy and time would have been better spent bonding with my family, caring for my recovering body and relaxing my mind. There were, as I learned through trial and error, easier and more practical solutions to triage all of the above.
The spotlight is finally shining on maternal health. There are countless service providers who are ready, willing, and able to help expectant and new moms during this exciting and potentially overwhelming transition. Beyond routine prenatal care with physicians, nurses, and/or midwives, there are physical therapists, registered dietitians, counselors, psychologists, massage therapists, sleep consultants, nutrition coaches, bra-fitting experts, personal stylists and shoppers, private/ personal chefs, yoga instructors, pilates instructors, professional organizers, mom coaches, birth educators, chiropractors, personal trainers, pre- and post-natal exercise specialists, birth doulas, postpartum doulas, baby nurses, eco-maternity consultants, sleep consultants, baby registry consultants, housekeepers, mother’s helpers, subscription box services….you get the idea! It is essential to understand specialized offerings and how they relate to personal needs to find a meaningful fit.
While there is value to the array of services available to expectant and new moms, I am concerned about the potential for misinterpretation-- that women must have all of what is available for the best possible experience and outcomes. With nearly 4 million babies born in the United States each year, there is no doubt that there is space for countless service providers to support this special population of women and families having babies.
There also needs to be space for women to reflect on personal needs and goals to do motherhood, each her own way, whatever that looks like, with support and ability to feel good about her decisions.
At the core of my work are the beliefs that:
Every baby deserves a healthy mother or parent.
Every mother deserves to enjoy parenthood.
My vision is for all to mother in accordance with what she and her family value. There are many ways to do motherhood.
What is YOUR way?