An Open Letter to the Expecting Mother

Dear Mama,

First, I would like to say you are beautiful. You look perfect. And no matter what anyone else says, you are doing a beautiful thing for your family, for your child, and for all of humanity, really. You could be carrying the next Einstein or Louisa May Alcott. The potential you are creating is astounding. Do not let anyone tell  you otherwise.

Speaking of things people tell you, if someone tells you that you look like a Weeble Wobble, you do not have to take that from them. Your pregnancy is not a free pass for others to comment on your body or your shape. It is still rude, and you should feel free to tell them that! It might make things awkward and uncomfortable for them, but their comment probably made you uncomfortable anyway. Why should you be the only one feeling uncomfortable? Your swollen ankles and aching back are enough to deal with.

Also, a baby is not a free pass to touch! This is 2018, you are a strong women, and no one has the right to do anything to your body that you are not onboard with. This includes rubbing your belly. You can gently push them away and say, “Please don’t touch me.” or, you can scream and flail and make accusations of sexual assault. Both would be as appropriate as someone touching you without consent. Even if they do ask permission, how weird is that? When was the last time you asked a stranger if you could caress them? Probably never. It is not normal.

For some reason, everyone acts like pregnancy means you are no longer in control and, Mama, that is simply not the case. Even your medical professionals will use phrases like, “You have to” or “We won’t let you.” And I just want you to know that YOU are in control here. Pregnancy is not something that happened to you. It is something you are doing. If you are the type of woman who wants to follow all the rules, and likes being told exactly how to handle things, by all means, listen to your doctor and take his word as law. But if you prefer to take a different rout or need to ask questions or even question his knowledge, do it!

You have the right to refuse everything. Cervix checks, glucose tests, weekly appointments. All of it. I think it is best to make educated decisions before blowing off your prenatal caregiver, but never forget who is in charge. You are paying them for their services, and that makes you the boss. Make sure you know why. About everything. If your current doctor will not or can not answer all those questions, maybe he is not the doctor for you. This birth is about you too, no matter how many times people say it is not.

Make that damn birth plan. Your OB might roll his eyes and the charge nurse will laugh. They might even suggest that births with “plans” are the first to go awry. Make it anyway. Give a copy to anyone that you might be in contact with during delivery. In the end, it is they who will have to answer for why your wishes were not carried out to the best of their ability. And, you never know, perhaps you will get lucky, and whoever attends the birth of your sweet miracle will follow your birth plan to the letter. But if you do not have one, that is a sure guarantee that it will not be followed.

Many people will probably try to remind you that, “Things happen” or “Do not always go according to plan” and that you should “Be prepared for anything.” I disagree with them. Things do happen, but you, as a laboring mother, should not be prepared for them. You should be prepared for the challenge of your life. You should be focused on your goal. Those around you, your birth coach, your husband, your doctor, your nurse team, they should be prepared for things to go wrong. They should be ready with their plan B or plan C. You need only focus on your best case, on your original plan.

While we are on the topic of the birth, get that epidural. Or don’t. It is completely up to you. I believe that your body was made to do this and can do this, but if you want something to help you along, the beauty of modern medicine is that it is here to make our lives a little easier. Do not ever let someone make you feel less-than because of how you gave birth. You brought life into this world, and that means something whether you did it standing on your head or laying on your back. No matter how it happens, I hope it is a day you remember with pride. You have every right to be proud of yourself.

Dear Mama, I know the last month of pregnancy is the longest 4 months of your life. You probably feel like you are all dressed up for a date who forgot to tell you when he was coming, but I hope you have patience. I hope you can wait for your body and your little one to be ready to do what it was intended to do. I know that the term “due date” makes it seem like your baby should follow a schedule, and “passed due” makes it feel like he is already late to his first appointment, but babies come when they are ready. They do come, I promise. No one stays pregnant forever. I understand extenuating circumstances happen and, again, modern medicine is a great tool when we need it, but if you feel confident in your body and everything is working like it should, do not let anyone tell you that you have to keep up with the timeline that was given to you. I hope you trust your body. It is doing amazing things.

Always remember, birth is not an affliction. It is not an ailment, nor a sickness. We often associate it with such things because most of us go to a hospital – a place where the sick and injured accumulate. But birth is a beautiful, natural process that our bodies are specifically designed to handle. At any minute of the day, two hundred and fifty-five other incredible women are giving birth all around the world. You have all their power behind you.

You are doing a beautiful thing.

Love,

Another Mama

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