Motherhood: The risks are great and the sacrifices many. But it will all be worth it when you see your baby!
Ever noticed how society believes that birthing women should just “do as they are told”? We are sent this message over and over and over again. We told how we must behave and what we will be allowed to do so often during pregnancy that by the time we are birthing we are completely conditioned to just do what the nice doctor says. We are encouraged from the moment of conception to give away our parenting rights and to offload our responsibilities onto others. We are told that we need to sacrifice. And sacrifice again. Because this our job. We are no longer women, but become vessels for a baby that everyone feels is more important than us.
Why can't you just give up coffee? It's only a small sacrifice to make! Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
It starts at the very first doctor appointment where we are given a huge list of things that we are not allowed to eat. Blue cheese, sushi, pate, prepackaged salad, soft serve ice cream, alcohol, coffee and the list goes on. Very rarely are we told the risks associated with eating these foods and advised to make an informed decision.
And as these food guidelines for pregnant women become common knowledge EVERYONE feels like they can comment on a woman’s food choices. “Don’t you know you CAN’T eat sushi?” “OMG you’re having coffee?!?! Don’t you know that’s BAD for the baby?” “It’s only 9 months, why can’t you just go without camembert for 9 months?! Such a small sacrifice for the good of your baby.” In other words – Why can’t you just do as you’re told and make the necessary sacrifices for your baby.
Testing for gestational diabetes is just one "routine" test many women are denied the right to make an informed decision about. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Then we move on to “routine” testing. Again – it’s fairly rare for you to simply be given information and asked to make an informed decision. “Here’s your referral for your dating scan. Call these people and book it in next week sometime”. “Here’s your blood test referral for 28 weeks. Make sure you fast beforehand and you’ll have to hang around for 2 hours”. The facebook groups I’m a part of are flooded with requests for information about various routine tests that women are sent for. It’s fairly common for a woman to ask: What’s the go with this test? Is it compulsory? Are there any risks? Which opens up a whole different issue (maybe another blog post in future) which is: why don’t women feel comfortable talking about this with their care providers? Could it be that we don’t trust that they will give us information? Or that we are simply getting tired of being treated like children and told what to do? And we can’t share these questions with our non birthy friends because we’ll get a lecture about doing what the doctor says, he knows the risks, you don’t need to know the risks, and don’t forget – motherhood is about sacrifice – if you’re not willing to sacrifice your comfort and have a test done then what sort of mother are you?
As we move to the end of pregnancy and the business of birthing the baby it continues. Don’t make a birth plan! Don’t learn too much! Don’t ask questions! The doctor wouldn’t do anything risky! Just be grateful for your healthy baby! Just do as you're told!
Risk and sacrifice. “They” decide what risks you should be willing to expose yourself and your baby to and you make the necessary sacrifices.
I don’t know how we got to this point but I want to say something very loud and clear. It’s your birth, your body, your choice, your right and your responsibility. Regardless of who you allow to make the decisions you still bear the ultimate responsibility for the safety and wellbeing of your baby. Every choice has your stamp on it. Being a parent is a tough job. You will be called upon time and time again to make potentially life and death decisions for your children – practise makes perfect! Learn how to make an informed decision. Learn how to research. Learn how to take the reins. Learn the risks. Learn the options. Learn how to say no. Learn how to say yes. Learn how to say “I’d like some time to think about that”.
Not everyone will support your learning. But when you feel empowered, confident and strong you will see. Knowing your risks. Making your choices. Taking responsibility. It is worth it.