When you watch old movies or talk to your parents and grandparents, you might see/hear a lot of stories about generational support during pregnancy – moms and grandmothers supporting pregnant daughters and granddaughters, sisters in the delivery room acting as coaches, etc. I think that’s awesome.
I also think it’s totally unrealistic and here’s why:
This generation of women having babies right now is very different in a lot of ways. We live further away from our families – some of us a few hours by car, some of us a few hours by air, challenged not only by lack of physical closeness but also by time zone differences. Many pregnant women, especially first time moms, can find this very isolating and scary – I know I did. So while I would’ve loved to have been close to my family during pregnancy to ease my anxiety, I was forced to seek out other options. And you know what? I found out that I could find love and support and have my questions answered in a variety of ways. [Let me insert here, though, that my family WAS amazing in terms of always answering my calls, flying out to visit and planning a beautiful surprise baby shower for me when I was visiting on the East Coast. I ALWAYS felt their support, I just couldn’t physically see them or hug them nearly as much as I would’ve liked].
So to the mamas who are far away from family or motherless, I want you to know there are resources out there for you. Here are the ones I needed/loved the most:
When I was in Arizona, I had two friends in particular that kept me sane. They were both already moms and gave me the down and dirty whenever I asked for it. They didn’t attempt to make everything shiny and perfect – they knew I wouldn’t buy that BS anyway. I wanted to understand labor pain, breastfeeding, sleep deprivation and body changes firsthand. I wanted to know how to quell morning sickness. I wanted them to tell me that raging hormones and periods of extreme anger and tears were normal. They delivered, each and every time. They also opened my eyes to all the tiny miracles I was about to experience once my baby arrived. They helped me prepare practically and emotionally and reminded me each day why every mood swing, ache and pain would be worth it. They met me for coffee and walks, helped me create a registry, brought me meals once Logan was born and brought me to the most luxurious spa for pampering before his arrival. I don’t know what I would’ve done without them. Find those young mama friends who are in the trenches with you – you will need them.
I took wonderful prenatal yoga classes at this cool studio in Scottsdale called Modern Milk. They offered fitness classes, baby preparedness classes, lactation consultations, financial planning basics, and fun activities for new moms once babies were born. I stumbled upon them in a Google search and am grateful every day that I did. My weekly yoga class relaxed me, centered me, empowered me, and made me feel like I was part of a community of strong women. Instead of being afraid of labor, I started to strengthen my mind and body for it. Plus, it was nice to see other women who were hot and sweating struggle to attempt pigeon pose with their big bellies in the way. I will never be a Crossfit mom so if you are out there, pregnant and pantless, wondering if walking to the kitchen is worth it, I feel you. And there are classes out there, just for you.
Ohhh, I cannot sing the praises of our doula enough. When I first got pregnant and read about doulas (women who are trained to assist other women during childbirth and who provide support to the family after the baby is born) I thought the whole concept seemed silly. Why would I need hired help to prepare me for birth and to be with me during labor and delivery? I had CHRIS! And then I had what I like to call my “Come to Jesus” moment where I realized that Chris was a MAN and could not possibly know what to expect or to do at all times. He tried his hardest but without having a mother or sister nearby, having another strong female support person meant the world to me. Ashley (who I met at one of my yoga classes) was a gift. She wasn’t “crunchy” – she was a modern day mama with a cute sense of style who was incredibly knowledgeable but also reasonable. She didn’t force her own ideas onto you about what a birth experience should look like – she merely supported you and your plan, offering lots of education and tips to you in the process. We met a few times before delivery to go over my plan, discuss pain management techniques, learn about the various stages of labor and what to expect, and to shed light on some of my fears. She texted with me regularly and the day I went into labor, was at my house within an hour to assist me in laboring at home for as long as possible. She helped direct both Chris and I and remained that objective, strong person (almost like a fitness coach!) that I took direction from well. She advocated for me at the hospital and reminded me to breath. I know myself well enough to know that the people who I love the most are not always the best for me in times of stress – they make me feel more vulnerable and like I can cry and show them my weakness. But this cool, strong woman?? She made me want to show her how tough I was (she also took incredible pictures for us that I will treasure forever). I will throw a bone to Chris here, too, and say that he was the calmest and strongest I have ever seen him in that delivery room. He never made me feel like anything was scary or wrong and I’m sure there were moments that he was just as scared and in the dark as me. There was no fainting or running to find an anesthesiologist. He was quiet and direct and coached like I was playing in the Superbowl. But if you are far away or if you are a single mom, I would definitely look into a doula’s services, especially if you are feeling anxious about childbirth. They are truly amazing.
Pregnancy gave way to the birth of my blog “And Mango Makes Three” which is now “The Mama Love Movement.” I needed a distraction and somewhere safe to share everything I was going through and writing became that outlet for me. I loved getting all of my jumbled thoughts out on paper and especially loved receiving feedback from both friends and strangers that something I said resonated with them or helped them in some way. It’s probably why, almost 3 years later, I am still writing. Women need to feel less alone. Find an activity that brings you peace and joy and embrace that – it will come back to you tenfold.
So there you have it – the four resources that helped this mama when she was miles and miles away from family during pregnancy. Hoping you find resources that work well for YOU! XO!