Hospitals are interesting places where the rules of the real world are suspended. There is a new language to learn, unwritten and uncommunicated expectations on women and families to behave in certain ways, and punishments when the behaviour of visitors doesn't comply with the new norms.
Women are stripped of their names, clothes and autonomy. Rebranded 'mummy' or 'honey' because who can keep up? (I was recently working with a medical student who asked me, "if I don't call her the lady in bed 6 what do I call her?)
Do you breastfeed or bottle feed? Are you a SAHM or working mum? Do you co-sleep or cry it out?
This constant separation into polarising groups is total bullshit.
The idea that the hundreds and thousands of new mothers every year will easily fall into opposing sides on every single parenting decision is the most absurd claim that has made it into urban myth.
Ask questions. About everything. Literally everything. “what are you doing? why are you doing that? What other options do I have? Are there any risks with doing that? What else can you do instead?” Ask questions about where you birth, when and with whom. Ask what the evidence is and if there is any contradicting it. Learn about levels of evidence and recommendations in pregnancy. Know your hospital's policies on induction, monitoring, appointments, home visits, breastfeeding and bottle-feeding, support people, bed sharing, everything. Read every one. And learn the difference between policy and evidence.
Probably one of the biggest decisions we make very early in our pregnancy is deciding where we will have our baby and who will look after us. To further complicate the matter, this decision may have the greatest impact on how our baby comes into the world and how we are prepared for and supported in our mothering (or fathering).
In other areas of health, we might have the opportunity or feel secure in asking for second opinions, researching other options or just saying no. When we are having a baby however, quite often our default position is to give our decision making and reasoning over to the "experts". After all we don't want to make the wrong choice... and what do we know?
It could be hours or even days for these mild (and still exciting) niggles to build into the powerful waves you are expecting "active" labour to be made from. Do you call your midwife/doctor?
I have definitely spent my share of hours being the miserable know-it-all sadly “helping” another mum by explaining that unfortunately the exhaustion she is experiencing is normal, and yes she is isolated and overwhelmed, however, her baby is healthy, growing well and acting exactly as a baby of that age should