Remember when you had to look up a word in an actually dictionary to find it’s meaning? In my middle school mind it was such an arduous task, but I’m quite happy now that I’ve had that experience. Going that extra length taught me the value of finding meaning and definition. Not that I would go back to those times, I fancy myself a good Google search just as much as anyone and my iMac history will tell you so. I’ve been thinking about how we can define things rapidly now and how “that thing” becomes a trend and then that trend becomes “the thing” that everyone must do. So I looked up “trend” and discovered a few meanings including my favorite: “a line of general direction or movement (the trend of the coast turned toward the west).” This got me thinking of the ocean; how vast it is, how mysterious it is, how it’s currents can be mapped out… but ultimately the ocean could never be quantified into one trend.
Birth and motherhood is like the ocean; mysterious and glorious in nature. It’s existence screams beauty and yet in birth and motherhood we try to categorize and label things. As humans we do this because our brains love to understand and make sense of mystery… maybe it’s an attempt to control the unknown. I’ve come to feel like labeling parts of birth and motherhood like “natural childbirth” and “breast is best” are hurtful to mothers and children alike. I read an article recently of a woman who’s newborn died because she would not supplement with formula as she wasn’t producing enough colostrum. This mother speaks openly about her feelings of guilt; that she felt like there was no other option than to breastfeed and that she would be betraying her body and her baby if she did not do so.
In episode 7 of my podcast “Sure, Babe” I discuss birth stories and letting go of the idea of “the perfect” childbirth experience with Hailey Andresen of Householdmag.com. It was reassuring to hear from her that the term “natural childbirth” made her feel just as bad and I since we both ended up in hospitals with epidurals. There is no shame in birthing at home with zero medical intervention and my praise hands go up to all you mamas that have done so. But my praise hands go up to the mother in the operating room having a C-section, the woman that pushed for hours upon hours and had to use the vacuum and the mother laboring through tears while she breathes through the labor pains. It’s all so beautiful and moving and the end goal of each is the same, a baby born into the world.
Hailey and I talked openly about our birth experiences and how we’re learning to let go of any guilt we put upon ourselves from this cultural trend. We learned to let go of that feeling that we were less of a woman or mother. WHOA take a deep breath because that feels good!
Information is at our fingertips and its incredibly empowering. Education has never been more accessible therefore our choices have never been more plentiful. The choice of how you want to birth and the type of mother you want to be is up to you. But one of the most important things in parenting is attunement! Attunement is being connected to your child and being willing to give them what they need. As a woman and mother you must also attune to what you need in order to be the vessel that pours out.
Let’s lay down our measuring sticks and look in the mirror and say, “you’re doing a good job mom.”
You can click here to listen to more on this episode with Hailey!
Photos by Meghan Branlund