I feel like this is a common question that interviewers like to ask celebrities, influencers, and entrepreneurs. As a midwife and lactation consultant, I say to myself on a daily basis, “Geez, I wish I had known that when I was pregnant!” You see I was NOT a midwife when I had my first 2 babies and I was NOT a lactation consultant when I breastfed any of my babies, it sure would have made life much easier if I knew then what I know now! I totally GET that part of the growing and learning is in the journey, but these 5 things could have made the journey so much more rewarding!
5 Things I Would Tell My “FIRST TIME” Mummy Self!
- “Go to Childbirth Education Classes, don’t be so stubborn, you may tell yourself that you don’t need to go, or that you will just take it as it comes”. BUT what you might actually be experiencing is fear of the unknown, fear you may be judged, or just fear of sheer embarrassment. If you are anything like me, extremely self-conscious, then you must address this prior to walking into the labour room. I was living away from my family and friends when I fell pregnant with my first baby. My hubby was working on a bridge with a deadline, so he couldn’t get the time off to go to classes. My fear was going alone and being judged for being alone. I thought people would think my husband didn’t love me enough or was not supportive enough. I had so much self-doubt about going to these antenatal classes alone, that I didn’t go at all. The reality of turning up to the hospital not knowing anything, was actually more embarrassing and it affected my birth story!
- “Listen to the Advice of Others”. I am sure you already hate this advice! But what if the advice was just to “listen and accept that we are not all the same and you may not want to do half of what is being advised” But what if half the advice DOES resonate with you and helps you to change something which makes a huge impact on the rest of your life. You don’t know what you don’t know! Imagine 10 years of study, 25 years of work experience, and 12 years of being a mother, that is something worth listening to, right? Just imagine the education that I could give a first- time But, do they want to listen? Sometimes but not always.I thought my baby would sleep through the night from day one. No matter how many times I was told that newborns need to be fed every 2-3 hours, I would not believe it, somehow thinking I must be giving birth to a robot that sleeps 12 hours a night! And I could have saved myself a lot of grief and instead organized my new life as a mother who was definitely NOT going to get much sleep!
- “Practice Yoga Throughout My Pregnancy” This one could be my number one! What I know now about the benefits of optimal fetal positioning, which is just a fancy name for Yoga… WOW! The position of your baby in the womb when you present in labour, is the single most important variable on how your labour will progress. And then knowing that there is something you could do about it; I wish I had known this! Not to mention the benefits to your own mind and your baby’s nervous
- “Bring Whoever You Damn Well Want into Your Birthing Space” This advice is for my second time “mummy” self! Look, let’s be honest, I think we all know how supportive our other halves are going to be in labour and maybe we are too scared to admit it to ourselves. OR, we hope they are going to miraculously change once the labour starts! My husband was pretty good, but he was not vibing with me! There was no boost of the much – needed oxytocin (apart from the drip) no back rubs, no staring longingly into each other’s eyes, no changing into board shorts so he could get as wet as me in the shower! What he did do was protect me when I needed the strength to stand up for myself and he never once left my side.But what I knew I needed was my mother or my sister, which would have been uncomfortable for him. Only in an embarrassed, private sort of way. I did need to give my wonderful husband the chance to be amazing and supportive in my first birth, but once I worked out that this is NOT his thing, I should have had my mumor sister in the room for my next 2 births. As a midwife you start being of the opinion that birth is “woman’s business” and that few men are really good at it. If Russell Brand was my husband, well than it would be different! You might be lucky enough to have a man that sees birth and the birth space as a spiritual and ritual rite of passage into the physical world. My husband does not share this view, for him it is traumatic, watching someone you love going through such pain without being able to control it, but my mother, she would have shared my view!
- “Join a Mother’s Group”. Again, my egoic mind was in control and I must have thought, “I have enough friends, I don’t need to go and mix with strangers for support”. I have watched as all my friends developed amazing friendships with the girls from their mother’s groups! And the babies have all grown up to have great childhood friends, even sometimes tackling prep together. Mothers groups are a way to off load to others around you who get you. There is no need to have to explain yourself to people who do not understand. I feel like this is even more important in today’s society, where social media is such a huge presence, and women are checking out instead of checking into the “real” world. We need human connections, and your growing baby needs to watch you making these connections, so that they can see the importance of women supporting other women!
I will leave you with my favorite celebrity quote to this question as I think it is relevant to the journey ahead. Good luck and try and enjoy the ride!!
Jada Pinkett Smith
“I wish I had known then that pain is just a part of your journey and it’s not because you’ve done something wrong or because you’re cursed or you’re a bad person, we’re all going through it”, Jada revealed to ET. “We all have pain; we all have a story. And, so, all we need to do is support each other through it and I wish I had known that, ‘Jada, it’s just a part of it, baby. It’s going to be okay.’”