We are continuing our Becoming a Mother series and talking about Pregnancy, Labor, and Delivery. Check out the previous post on The Birth of a Mother to catch up, if you haven’t already!
Since I believe that you become a mother while you are pregnant, we are going to start this motherhood journey there. Some people might argue that you don’t get to claim the title of “Mother” while pregnant, but this is when your focus truly shifts to your child.
Now, you are making decisions and sacrifices based off of this child, like monitoring what you eat and drink more closely. You start planning and trying to figure out what to put on your baby registry. Not only are you creating space for your baby in your new home, but also in your life.
Planning for a baby can be time-consuming and overwhelming! I’ve made it easier by compiling a list of every essential item that you will need on your baby registry. And what to pack in your hospital bag when pregnant for labor and delivery. There’s even a list for all of you minimalist moms out there.
I have been updating it as we find more items that we need as my baby gets older. I hope that list can help take a little bit off of your plate if you are pregnant. Your plate is full enough as it is!
On the topic of baby registries, let’s talk about baby showers. Baby showers are traditionally centered around the baby. A baby that is not even here yet to enjoy the party. I recommend having a baby shower that is focused on you and your transition into motherhood. This is a rite of passage. Invite people who can be there to honor you, support you, and offer any wisdom or advice.
“Always pass on what you have learned.” — Yoda
I may have triggered a few of you in mentioning advice for pregnant women. While I understand that completely unsolicited advice is annoying, I’m here to suggest you remain open about the advice that you receive. There is a reason someone is trying to pass this wisdom along to you.
Give them the respect of listening to what they have to say, do your own research on the matter, and make the best and most informed decision for yourself. But don’t just completely disregard the advice being offered to you. Unless it directly conflicts with a decision you feel very strongly about, try to remember this is a gift that you are being given.
I was offered so much advice while pregnant. Most of it annoyed me but I’m truly grateful that I at least considered what I had heard. I can see how those people offered me a gift in passing along something that would have made their lives as a new parent a little bit easier.
I think that part of the annoyance comes from wanting to pave your own way in parenting. Because each family will choose their own unique path with their children. The advice does not mean someone is telling you what to do, they are simply offering an option to consider.
Please don’t come at me for saying this either, but somebody has to say it. I think another part of the annoyance is just hormones. Ugh, I know. Hormones as an excuse? Who do I think I am?
Well, I’m someone who is still currently battling my hormones. And if you don’t want to take it from me, listen to science. Hormones can greatly impact our behavioral functions. This can be seen in our thoughts, feelings, and reactions. The more awareness you give those hormones, the less control they will have over your behavior. These hormones are necessary to prepare you for your birthing experience.
Another part of pregnancy that I’d like to talk about is expectations. Both on yourself and others during your pregnancy.
You might expect your pregnancy to be a time of pure joy and positivity. And you might quickly realize that as with anything in life, nothing is all good or all bad. There will be exciting and joyful parts of pregnancy, but you might not love every part of it.
You will probably have certain expectations of others in your life while you are pregnant, whether you know it or not. Unfortunately, some of these people will let you down. They won’t be as interested or as involved as you had hoped. Some might even start to fade away as your priorities shift.
I feel like this is common as you go through any major change in life. You are starting a new chapter. Some people will be able to accept that and allow for your relationship to evolve with those changes.
For others, they may not be capable of meeting you there in this new season. That’s not to say they won’t come around at some point, but they certainly won’t be able to meet your expectations now. And, as hard as it may be, try not to take it personally. It’s most likely not happening because they don’t want to, but because they can’t.
Do your best to focus on the people who are showing up for you, the ones who are involved. You might be surprised who steps up during this time too. I certainly had some unexpected people really show up for me during those times I needed it the most. It was really healthy for me to shift my focus from the people who weren’t there for me to appreciate the people who were.
Make sure to surround yourself with as much support as possible during this time. You are facing so many different new and unexpected challenges.
Your Growing Body
The closer you get to labor and delivery, the more your body grows. These changes can be really hard to accept and can severely impact your body image. Even though you logically know you are meant to grow along with your baby, it doesn’t make it any easier to see your body change.
In my episode on Body Acceptance During Pregnancy, I talked about many different ways to promote body acceptance as your body is growing and changing. It is normal to struggle with body acceptance during this time. Loving your pregnant body and loving your baby are not mutually exclusive. It’s ok to have a hard time loving your body as it grows AND still love that you are growing a baby with your body.
Words Hold Weight
I cannot stress enough just how important it is to watch the language surrounding you during this time. Watch how others speak to you. And more importantly, watch how you speak and think of yourself. Finding positive ways to refer to your strong and healthy body will do wonders for your self-esteem. Positive affirmations are also incredibly helpful and can benefit you all the way into labor and delivery. Here are my favorite positive affirmations for pregnancy, labor, and delivery.
While you are pregnant you are going to find that everybody expects you to be joyful. And that is not the case. It’s not healthy to expect someone to be joyful 100% of the time. Pregnancy is no exception to that. You are going through major changes. A lot of people experience real fear when it comes to thinking about bringing this baby into this world
All this on top of what you do when that baby gets there? It’s stressful, it’s anxiety-producing, and it’s hard. So I’m here to tell you that if you don’t love pregnancy, that is ok. In fact, it’s really normal. I wish that more people talked about the bad parts of the pregnancy experience and helped normalize that conversation for all expecting mothers out there.
Labor and Delivery
Labor and delivery are when you become a mother on paper. You have spent months and months creating this beautiful being and now is the time when you bring it into this world.
Labor will test your limits and bring out your deepest fears. And delivering a baby? That will show you the true strength of being a woman. You are doing what no cis-man can ever possibly do – you are bringing a beautiful life into this world. It is magical. And it is powerful.
Planning the Unplannable
But it isn’t always joyful. Most women create some sort of birth plan, even if it’s a very general one. And a lot of times, those women quickly learn that you cannot plan birth. When you don’t have the birthing experience that you planned for, you can feel like a failure or a deep sense of disappointment. You’ve probably spent months fantasizing about this ideal birth and could be crushed when it doesn’t happen for you.
My Birthing Experience
Personally, I wanted to deliver without any medications. I was set on it. But, I didn’t plan on having back labor and I definitely didn’t plan on being in labor for 66 hours(!!). I ended up getting an epidural just to sleep. Because by that point, I hadn’t slept in a day and a half. I couldn’t keep my eyes open but the contractions were so strong and so frequent that I couldn’t get any rest.
Having to change my plan was very disappointing at first. I was disappointed in myself for not being capable of the birth I wanted and felt like a failure for that. But let me tell you, it ended up turning my birth experience into a beautiful one. Once the pain was gone, I was able to rest. When I woke up, my husband and I were able to have tender, pain-free, and stress-free moments together. It was our last time being just us and we were able to fully cherish every second of it.
Now, I am grateful my birth did not go as planned. There is not a single thing I would change about it, even though it wasn’t how I pictured it. And at the end of the day, if you have brought your baby into this world, that’s all that matters.
I know that not everyone can say the same thing about their birth experience, this is not to discredit those who have suffered traumatic or scary experiences. This is simply to show that sometimes, things might not go to plan, but can end up better than you had planned.
Good Vibes Only
While doing all of your research on labor and delivery, I recommend finding positive birth stories. I read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth while I was in my third trimester and greatly appreciated all of the positive birth stories included. Surrounding yourself with different and positive outcomes can help you view your birth in a more positive light, however that may be.
This will become really important for your mental health as you go from birth into the postpartum period. We are going to dive into that raw and vulnerable time in the next post of this series.
What advice would you give to expecting mothers? Share your experience in the comments below!