“Millions of women give birth every day, it’s completely natural!”
Oh, if I could get a cent for every time this had been said to me since conceiving my first child 15 years ago!
Even though pregnancy is completely natural – sometimes it just feels completely unnatural! And I’m not using the word “unnatural” in a negative context – I’m using it in the sense that pregnant women often undergo so many physical and emotional changes that it is outside of their “norm” as they experience the various changes to their bodies, their lifestyles and their emotions.
Oh this list could go on and on but I just took some of the things I experienced through all four of my pregnancies.
But, there is one thing that stands out to me in all of my pregnancies – and that is how people treated me.
Strangers would smile at me; others would offer their seats for me; more would congratulate me; and some would even give my bump a quick pat! More often than not, I got the type of attention a little baby themselves would get – most people seem to have a natural instinct to look after a pregnant woman. This too was an “unnatural” experience of sorts – even with numerous chronic conditions over the years, I didn’t experience this type of attention! People were on hand to give advice on anything from what to eat/not eat; how to exercise; when to rest; the best feeding methods; pain relief in labour; how to combat morning sickness and so on and so forth. If I complained about how tired I was or how sore my back was, I wasn’t ignored or met with “Oh there she goes again” (like I often did with my previous health issues) – I was met with sympathy, advice and support.
Health professionals reacted the same if I ever became concerned about my baby, or my own health. In this pregnancy I experienced many extra health issues – I had two bleeds; I required 8 steroid joint injections to treat my arthritis and SPD; I got the flu (which is dangerous in pregnancy); I suffered two kidney infections and high blood pressure and I required clearance from my cardiologist so my obstetrician could make decisions about how to care for me. Additionally my placenta was (is) to the front and quite often I wasn’t able to feel my baby kick – this would keep me awake at night worrying was everything okay.
At every point, my health professionals listened and ACTED straight away. There was no “wait and see” or “we’ll put you on a waiting list”. I received care immediately. No concern I had was too small. I was never made feel like I was wasting anybody’s time. Midwives ensured before I left the hospital that I felt reassured – I was always told to come straight into them if I was worried, day or night.
This was an unusual experience for me because rarely was I treated like this when I wasn’t pregnant! And combined with all of the above physical and mental changes – this part is what made it a real “out of world” unnatural experience for me. Even though babies are born every few minutes across the world, it is still a very unique, humbling and overwhelming time in a woman’s life – and for those around her.
As I wait in anticipation for the arrival of my new baby in the next few days I think about how lovely it is for people that I have never even met to want to mind and protect me. They tell me to rest and take it easy. People give up their seats for me. Even my dogs have stopped jumping up on me!
I really, really can’t wait to meet my baby, but I’m not going to wish these last few days away either.
Soon these sentiments will transfer over from me, to my baby – and rightly so. In the first few weeks people will “ooh and ahh” at their tiny little faces and hands. People will ask how I am too, but as my baby gets a little bit older, day by day, the memories will fade that I once carried that little human inside me and I will be treated just like I was before I got pregnant. I will be expected to function on a lot less sleep, while caring for a whole new little person. If I moan about tiredness, I will be told it’s a normal part of being a mom. My own concerns will change too – I will worry more about the baby than myself. I will worry about my other children and how they are adjusting. I will try to make time to spend with my husband. I will have to go back to work not long after childbirth while my body tries it’s best to get back to what it once was – if that even is a possibility! I will have to trust other people minding my precious baby when I’m not at home. I will put myself last – not by choice, but by default.
I will have to “just get on with it” because that’s what is expected of parents. And I will get on with it.
Just like I am doing in my pregnancy now.
But I will remember those days of being pampered and treated with such kindness. And I will pay it forward to not just pregnant moms, not just brand new moms, but to all moms – because once you have a baby everything changes and it is then when moms need even more love, support and advice than ever before. And dads need it too. Being a parent is the toughest job in the world – there is no rule book – but I can guarantee the person who writes the “perfect parenting” book would be a millionaire if it ever happened!
So to all expectant moms out there who are in the last stages of pregnancy and are super eager to see your baby, remember to enjoy those precious last few days of pregnancy – and allow people to help you whenever you can.
Kindness and empathy can help us experience the extraordinary feelings that come with it, while we go through the “natural” experience of bringing a child into, and up into, this world. And these sentiments should not stop, just because our pregnancies have.
It should never feel unnatural to be treated with kindness.
So it’s up to us all to ensure that never ends.