Here’s a newsflash- Motherhood is hard, labor is hard, pregnancy is hard- and you absolutely should not have to attempt any of it on your own. During pregnancy it is so important to build yourself a support group that can help carry you through with encouragement, love, and a load of dishes every now and then. But pregnancy, labor, and motherhood are probably the most personal times you will experience in your life so you have to be sure to surround yourself with people who are champions for you no matter what. Here are some helpful tips on creating a support group that will support and not stress you.
When you get pregnant your husband suddenly becomes more than just your partner- remember your vows of “in sickness and in health, for better for or for worse?” This man is about to experience all of those things with you and it will be hard. From the moment you discover your pregnant do your best to be patient and really focus on your communication. Dads-to-be really want to help, but often just need you to give some direction as to how they can help you. Asking him to grab dinner tonight or not microwave bologna will help both of you out in the long run. Throughout my entire pregnancy the thought, smell, and feel of dirty dishes instantly made me want to barf so I had to ask my husband to take that chore and in return I tried to do the baulk of the laundry. It’s give and take, but you have to communicate with him. Building this communication now will benefit you later down the road.
Ah, family.. what would we do without them? Family relationships get tricky when a new life comes into play. Lots of family members will have the best intentions, but all of the opinions and advice can snowball into being overwhelming and suffocating. Not all of your family has to be involved in your pregnancy, labor, and parenting choices. You know who will support your decisions even when they don’t agree and who will go the extra mile to lend a helping hand- these are your people, make them your core support group. If you have a family member who wants to be more involved, but isn’t someone you want to be playing a central role then you can find some really helpful ways that they can be involved without being involved. Washing and sorting the babies clothes, addressing thank you notes, starting a meal train, are all great ways that they can truly be helpful to you without being involved in every decision you make.
This is a harder topic for me to write on because I had very few friends in my support group during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. I did not have any close friends (other than my sisters, of course) during the point in time hat I became pregnant with August, so I chose to focus on sharing my vision of what I wanted for the birth and care of my baby with my husband and family. My advice would be to make sure you chose people who are going to be encouraging, support your wants, and seek to meet your needs even when not asked regardless of whether they are friends or family.
Be clear on when you are asking for advice and when you are telling them about a decision you have already made.
Making a clear distinction when your looking for opinions will help save a lot of hurt feelings. Imagine saying “We were thinking about the name Oakley” instead of “We have decided to name him Oakley”. One statement bests for opinions and advice where the other clearly chose you have already decided.
The people you chose to be in your close knit circle need to be able to recognize this difference. They also should be able to put their personal feeling aside on certain matters in order to support you and your choices. Pregnancy and birth are going to be some of the emotionally and physically trying times in your life- there is no room for negative voices.
What to do when you need to give someone the cut…
No matter how hard you try to chose those who will be positive and supportive you might find yourself in a position where a certain friend or family member is not offering the encouragement you need and has instead become a point of contention. In these times you u have to remember you’r baby will only be born once- there are no do overs. It is much better to gently excuse someone from being there than to experience a stressful birth because of outside influences.
So how can you uninvite someone to you’r baby’s birth without hurting them? I always turn to the handy white lie. (A lie is a lie- I know, but I truly believe there are times when someone’s feelings are more important.) You can say that as you draw closer to labor you just don’t feel as comfortable with a large group being present. You can also blame it on the midwife- my midwife team was the best and told me that they gladly fight off (kindly) anyone who I did not want present.
The most important thing is finding the people who will support the choices you make for yourself and your baby, people who will bring out the positives and always be an encouragement to you. Your labor and birth experience is YOURS and you deserve to have it take place only with love and encouragement being present.