Are you sort of amazed about how many people have opinions about how you should conduct your pregnancy and even your birth experience? If you’re like most pregnant women, you’ve gotten advice from everyone everywhere, from your hairdresser to a strange guy in the elevator.
Advice really does come from a good place (most of the time). People want to be helpful by imparting their experience and perspective so your path can be easier. But geez, it can get confusing. With so many people lobbing conflicting opinions and recommendations at you — not to mention all the “expert” opinions online and in books — it can be hard to figure out whose advice to take.
And while It’s easy to blow off the lady in the grocery store checkout line who insists you opt for the epidural, things get a little trickier when the person dispensing advice is your best friend, your sister or your mom.
So what do we do? Here’s a tip from Brene Brown and Oprah Winfrey:
You can not live a brave life without dissapointing other people.” – Oprah Winfrey with Brene Brown
We’re conditioned to people please
Let’s face it, in our culture, women are conditioned from girlhood to put the needs of others before our own. We’re groomed to be people pleasers. So when Grandma thinks it’s crazy to try for an unmedicated birth, it’s tempting to listen. When your neighbor tells you her breastfeeding horror story you think maybe you’ll just skip it. But then your sister tells you the evils of formula feeding and the last thing you want is for her to form a bad opinion of your parenting choices before the baby is even born!
Sometimes it just seems easier to let other people’s desires sway your own choices and override your own instincts. Hell, maybe you can just get your sister to write your birth plan for you.
As birth and postpartum doulas, all too often we see women making choices based on what other people want. We’ve seen women committed to natural birth change their minds once labor really gets going and request an epidural — and then apologize to the room for doing so!
We’ve seen women struggle horribly with breastfeeding, causing themselves gargantuan amounts of stress, because they’re too afraid to be judged for formula feeding.
We’ve seen women be pressured into laboring positions or medical interventions that they truly didn’t want, just to avoid conflict.
Your permission slip
But here’s the thing: THESE ARE YOUR CHOICES TO MAKE.
(And once you make them, you’re entitled to change your mind.)
As expertly qualified doulas, let us be the ones to write you a permission slip that you can wave in the face of naysayers….
You have permission to have a natural birth.
You have permission to use pain relief medication during birth.
You have permission to breastfeed.
You have permission to not even try breastfeeding.
You have permission to try breastfeeding and then quit and throw your pump out the window (and maybe light it on fire) if it causes you stress and pain.
You have permission to co-sleep.
You have permission to have your baby sleep alone in a crib.
You have permission to try methods of sleep training.
You have permission to try one thing, and then another, and then another.
You have permission to figure all of this out for yourself.
Here’s how to say no
So now that you have permission to make any choice that’s right for you, how can you say no without hurting the feelings of well intentioned people?
Your doula can help you weigh the pros and cons of your choices, listen as you figure out what you actually want, and can support and encourage you in voicing your decisions and standing strong. Once you know what you want, get your support team on the same page, letting them know your desires for birth and the postpartum period. Ask them to support your choices without judgment.
Your doula can even help you role play situations where you may have to stand your ground on your choices — or your right to change your mind about your choices! Slap a wig and a housecoat on your doula: instant grandma! Then you can practice ways of letting grammy know that you feel her love, and respect her advice, but you’ve totally got this.