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For my question meme jume asked "What would your #1 piece of advice for expecting first-time mothers be?"

I sure can be opinionated about a lot of this stuff. In 2014 I actually published a list of 75 pieces of advice for pregnant moms and the list GROWS.

Looking over the mega-list, if I had to pick out one thing, it probably would be to warn more people about post-partum recovery. I think it's a very overlooked topic, the biology of healing after childbirth. This is both a motherhood and a feminist issue for me, so it's kind of my public service announcement, even though my second childbirth recovery was really easy. My first was NOT and I felt totally caught off gaurd and after talking about it, more issues surface. The bottom line is that my healing could have been made easier with real pain meds, witch hazel pads, colace, ice packs, and I had none of these things, I was under some stupid idea that I could just tough it out for a few days. My own naivety after never having any kind of surgery or major injury, maybe. But if I missed the memo, it means someone else might, too.

When I read Half The Sky I was struck by something. We all hear creation stories: nearly every culture in every corner of the world has some unique and interesting story about how the world was made. What we don't all talk about is that nearly every culture of the world has some unique and interesting story about how women are supposed to suffer to bring babies into this world.

Consequently there's a whole list of "lady problems" that I think STILL get swept under the radar. From menstrual cramps to morning sickness to postpartum depression, doctors told us it was all in our flighty lady heads for decades. We're slowly crawling out of that, but not quickly enough. The severe form of pregnancy sickness, hyperemesis gravidarum, can be deadly, and forums are filled with women who can't function but who are still trying to convince their doctors to actually treat their symptoms instead of flippantly telling them to eat more crackers.

So my real advice for first time mothers, now that I'm narrowing this rambling entry down: you are not supposed to suffer.

You are not supposed to be crying for weeks, haunted by images of doing something terrible to your baby. You are not supposed to tough out having your vagina sewn back together with ibuprofin and water, ESPECIALLY while attempting to care for a five-day old. You are not supposed to feel totally alone.

Motherhood can be beautiful, but it's also hard, and you should talk about what you're going through to see if something can be done. Be honest with yourself and your network. Don't be afraid to ask for help. I'm not trying to scare you. Maybe nothing that awful will happen. But it's not like you're just bracing for impact that you know will be terrible. Listen to your body and be pro-active in taking care of yourself. Like they say on airplanes, put your own oxygen mask on first, then you can put it on your child. Don't let anyone blow you off.

Posts from This Journal by “pregnancy” Tag


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 2nd, 2016 05:39 pm (UTC)
I would expand that to talk about labor and delivery. We only hear about everything that can go wrong when people want to frighten us into doing something. But certainly being a person involved in a lot of crunchy birth circles, there is this idea that nothing bad will happen to you. I'm actually writing an article for AB right now taking to task the idea that as long as the mother and baby survive, it's considered a "good" birth. My own personal experience from my various avenues of birth advocacy sees that this is especially common in traditional medical settings. Birth trauma is real, and not all labors are created equal. I would tell women it IS okay to be scared; it is NOT okay to not even entertain the discussion of something going wrong before labor ever even starts. In example, I wish someone had been willing to tell me that you can have pain so intense, you hallucinate. "What to Expect" definitely didn't cover that.
Jun. 2nd, 2016 07:18 pm (UTC)
Well said! I agree that it is an overlooked topic. I am fortunate that I had a doctor who understood that and was super helpful in making me as comfortable as possible. I suffered with post partum depression because I was embarrassed to bring it up. Society makes us feel as if we shouldn't have such a problem. My doctor was amazing. I had a c-section so I had to go back to get staples taken out then again for recovery update. Every time I went in, she asked me about my mood. She said, "I can't help you if I don't know. It's perfectly normal to feel sad, frustrated or overwhelmed." Of course I had a complete meltdown and she was sympathetic. She gave me a mild mood stabilizer that wouldn't make me loopy or anything. I even got followup phone calls to ensure it was working and to make sure I was okay. I wish more doctors were like that!
Jun. 2nd, 2016 07:27 pm (UTC)
Great post! And I second secret woman's comment about wishing more doctors were like hers. I was also recovering from a c-section (an emergency one, so I was mostly unprepared for it). I didn't even know I had postpartum depression, and I didn't have a doctor who knew to ask the right questions. In fact, it was only years later, reading over my journal entries from the time, that I realized I was a textbook case.
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