“At Least You’re Both Fine…”

… Except you’re not “fine.” Alive? Sure! But life isn’t simply about continuing from one intake of breath to the next.

You see, when we try to make everything “okay again,” by qualifying or justifying changes to the birth plan, or by brushing the emotional side of birth and life under the rug, we’re stripping the mother of her right to feel the things she’s going through. We’re telling her that despite every bit of research she’s done, all the time spent on a birth plan, choosing the perfect midwife or OB, the right place of birth, the doula, the support system with her, the birth classes, all of it, despite it all, despite her longing for a beautiful entrance into this world, when she and her baby didn’t get the experience they needed, she should suck it up and keep going.

We need to understand there’s going to be a period of sadness, and of floundering. There’s a sense of loss, and of being out of control of your own body: as though your body betrayed you when you needed to count on it the most. We also need to offer an ear, not cliches, or empty words. There’s a ton of shaming in this world, and it feels as though no mother can make the right decisions for her child, but believe it or not, most moms do their best. They make decisions based upon their bodies, abilities, their knowledge, and beliefs, not yours.

So the next time you hear a mom say something negative about her birth experience, hold space for her. Listen. Empathize. Don’t speak. And don’t judge. I’ll say it again for those in the back: Do Not Judge!

You don’t have to agree with someone’s choices to support them. Their choices don’t have to be the same as yours. And when something goes wrong for them, even if that would’ve been your first choice, it wasn’t hers. Even if everything turned out with living mother and child, it was still hard, it was still a bad experience, and it was still scary. Hold space, and offer support, not judgement.

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