I got pregnant with my firstborn in 2018. No sooner had I seen two pink lines than the comments started. A couple of the comments were “Don’t get an epidural” and “Don’t get induced.” Those comments were followed up by women sharing the bad experiences they had during their deliveries. I’ve since learned that this is a common phenomenon with first-time moms. People like to share their birth experiences with first-time moms and often use those opportunities to urge them to do or not do certain things. For example, don’t get an epidural because you’ll have chronic back pain after the epidural. This is one example of a comment someone said to me. People don’t realize it, but statements such as “don’t get induced” can cause a first-time mom to be nervous. In my case, those opinions stuck with me and affected me negatively.
What if, instead of planting seeds of doubt in the minds of first-time moms, we planted seeds of hope? What if, instead of sharing negative stories, we shared positive stories. What if we cheered women on in the decisions that they’ve made? Pregnancy can be a confusing time for first-time moms. The amount of conflicting information out there is overwhelming. There’s conflicting information on factors leading to cesarean sections. With the formula shortage, the decision to breastfeed vs. formula feed becomes even more complicated. Even without the added pressure from other people, pregnancy can be a confusing time for moms.
I knew I wanted to get an epidural. Because someone told me that their chronic back pain was due to getting an epidural in an effort for me not to get one, I found myself doubting whether or not I wanted it. In the end, I decided to stick with getting the epidural, but it wasn’t without sleepless nights as I worried about potential negative side effects. The epidural went well for me, with no complications or lasting effects. As I write this article, I am currently pregnant with my second child. Thinking back on those doubts and fears makes me wish I could go back in time and tell my 24-year-old self not to let it get to me; to smile, nod my head, and move on; to trust myself to do what was right for myself and my baby. These are decisions a mother can only make for herself. Each woman is different: physically and emotionally. Some women have medical conditions or mental health conditions to consider.
There is an assumption about first-time moms that because they haven’t experienced delivery or postpartum before, they don’t know what’s best. When a mother notices her child is showing symptoms and suspects her child needs medical help, they’re often encouraged “trust your instincts” and to seek medical help based on maternal instinct.
What if that same amount of trust was placed in pregnant women as they make decisions about their babies? How much more confident would they be as they bring their babies into this world, fully supported by the people around them.