Happy Mother's Day, Happy Birthing Day!
This Midwife Helps Women Cross Over Into Motherhood
When a newborn baby is safely nested in his or her mother’s arms or breast right after birth, I congratulate her with,“Today is your Baby’s Birthday, and also your Birthing Day!” I believe a woman becomes a mother long before that blissful day of bonding with her baby on the outside - it happens the day she begins to consciously think about becoming a mother. During their nine months or so of pregnancy, women gestate their babies while simultaneously gestating into a new mother, whether this is your first for fifth baby This critical and sensitive interval of time sets the groundwork of being selfless for the benefit of your baby.
The art of mothering happens intuitively, by reading, attending workshops, picking up tricks of the trade from family and friends, and by modeling your own mother, grandmother, or other significant role models. Well intentioned family and friends can also be role models and unintentionally create fear with their stories and sabotage a woman's capacities to develop her mothering confidence. This can negatively impact her pregnancy and birth experience, and her opinion of herself in her upcoming role as new mother.
I believe that one of the most influential guides a woman can have as a model for mothering, is her birth care provider. I realize this concept may not initially be on your radar, but it should be considered as you interview birth care providers. While trained medically and licensed in their fields of obstetrics and midwifery, they should also guide you by continuously asking you to take care of yourself and your baby, thus influencing your ‘mothering’ abilities.
Mother's Day is a celebration of all mothers and those who birthed before us. While it’s not a secret, many women for better or worse, perhaps inherited both positive and negative mothering traits from their own mothers, or developed a mothering style as a reaction to the highs and lows of their own experiences being raised by their own parents, I believe with proper guidance before, during, and after pregnancy, you can gestate into the new you, or, the you that has been wanting to be born into a mother separate and apart from your mom. You are not only getting a baby, you are getting the new you - new mother. Each child should help you cultivate a new mothering perspective. Mother's Day commemorates you on a yearly basis for your job well done, on the day you birthed your baby. I believe the same principles apply for all adoptive parents. It is a milestone.
On the other hand, if pregnant women and providers alike become more mindful of how a woman is mothered by her health care provider, our medical system would work harder and smarter to greatly reduce incidences of post partum depression, preterm deliveries, emergency c sections, and instances of PSTD. The transition between conception, delivery and the Fourth Trimester and the first year post partum, can make or break a soulful Mother's Day. As Perinatal and Reproductive Psychiatrist Carly Synder, M.D. on Manhattan’s upper east side states: “We still cannot clearly define why some women will experience post partum depression (ppd) and others will be spared, but clinically I have seen time and again that women who ascribe trauma, anxiety and alienation to their pregnancy and the delivery of their child are at greater risk of having a difficult time adjusting to new parenthood. Women who feel nurtured, heard and cared about during pregnancy and through their labor and delivery feel mothered and thus able to mother their child. Knowing you have a warm, safe person you can depend on during such a crucial time in your life is invaluable and allows for a sense of calm during what is otherwise an inherently anxiety-inducing time.”
How will you begin your journey towards celebrating many Mother's Days for years to come? Who will help you usher in motherhood? Every time I meet a new pregnant mom, or a mom transferring into my practice, I ponder, “How can I help her be the best mom she can be?” Sometimes the guidance given will challenge her as one husband wrote to me, “My wife didn’t always like what you had to say during the many pre-natal visits, however, we came to understand that you are authentic. You do not tell people what they want to hear, rather, you tell them what they need to hear.”
Whether you are pregnant with your first, second or third baby, you have a back story and it needs to be heard, validated, and honored by your professional healthcare provider, the individual you hire to help bring your baby into the world, to usher you into your next phase as new mother.
Emotional guidance and modeling can also come from mental health therapists and perinatal psychiatrists such as Dr. Snyder, trained in mental health issues to support when challenges arise. A new found awareness can also help women develop stronger mothering instincts. Birth and post partum doulas and lactation specialists are also vital to the mother model support system.
As a nurse midwife I strive to be a wise, guiding voice for women as they transition into motherhood. I yearn to help women bring life lessons into birth, and birth lessons into life! Women can learn about themselves through birth, and see birth as a catalyst for their own growth. All providers must be sensitive to the reality that women may have roadblocks, fears, concerns, and anxiety due to medical, social, family, or work related issues. When women trust their provider, they will have more courage to open up and discuss issues so they can ultimately clear them away for the benefit of their baby.
The memories and imprinted data in every cell of your body which you take away from your baby’s birth and your birthing day are long lasting, which is why your provider is so essential to your mothering template. Your baby’s birthday is also your birthing day, which earns you the right to celebrate Mother's Day and take on the responsibility and joy it provides. My heart opened and propelled me into midwifery after I birthed my daughter. My back up doctor looked at his watch more than me, so as a mother I was impacted. As midwife I make sure I do not wear a watch during my clients births! I understand the importance of a 'no rush' attitude and gestating strong connections with my moms. I strongly urge all pregnant women and those planning their conscious conception, to take the ‘reigns’ of motherhood to heart, especially on Mother's Day. Find a provider with compassion to help prepare you for your birthing day and many joyous Mother's Days to come. Mother's Day is a reminder that you worked hard to give your baby a name.
I hope you found this useful.