Being a birth servant who is also pregnant can get pretty… complicated.
I am fully confident assuring the families I work with that their normal pregnancy symptoms and feelings are:
- 100% valid
- Statistically unlikely to be serious
- Likely resolved with rest, hydration, nutrition, or a tincture of time
I understand and accept that they are experiencing a real symptom and deserve acknowledgement and validation of their concerns. I also work hard to assist them in creating a plan of action to restore their comfort if at all possible. It is my goal to support and assist them on this empowering part of their pregnancy journey. I truly empathize with their feelings and want to help them feel as joyous, vibrant, and healthy as possible.
So why do I wring my hands in helpless anxiety over every single one of my own (valid, unlikely to be serious, and likely resolvable) pregnancy symptoms?
Fatigue? Oh no! I must be absolutely depleted of all minerals and vitamins! I am probably sucking the marrow out of my very own bones to build a placenta! Gah!
Nausea? My hormone levels must be completely effed! Surely I have been impregnated with two sets of triplets! Or worse, my liver is so damaged that it is a a shriveled up old husk turning to dust in my abdomen!
Achy Pelvis? Ectopic Pregnancy! Miscarriage! Tumors!!!! Placental accreta!
Or even more likely than the worry is the total dismissal accompanied by disrespectful self-talk:
You should toughen up. It’s not like you haven’t done this before.
Buck up and eat some protein.
Oh great. It’s only a few months in and you can’t even practice what you preach. Good luck with the birthing process.
So what gives with all of the pregnancy self-bashing? Why would I be consider myself to be any less worthy of validation and self-care than the other lovely expectant women I see each week?
I am not sure that I have *the* answer, but I think that there is the self-perception as a birth professional that having negative or challenging symptoms somehow means I am failing at pregnancy. Surely if herbal, nutritional, and peaceful gestation advice is sufficient to prescribe for other mommas, then I just must be failing to do it enough myself if I still have any symptoms. As if knowledge were an anecdote to suffering from biological mechanisms within the body.
I belong to a few boards that consist of other birth professionals. Many of us do similar things. Most of us are convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are carrying twins or triplets. That our symptoms are absolutely and bizarrely abnormal. We are probably having breech babies. We are certainly measuring way too big and feeling movement way before we should.
As happy as we are to be expecting Seven of Nine (our nickname for this 7th baby in our nine member family!) I want to put this energy out there for myself and for any other birth servants who are doing the same thing as I am: Let’s treat ourselves as enthusiastically, lovingly, and kindly as the families we serve. I would never measure a mommas belly and exclaim “You are HUGE! It must be triplets!” or sneer at her complaints of fatigue or nausea while accusing her of not trying hard enough. I would never imply that she was not making a big enough effort to *affirmation* her way out of physical symptoms. I would look that momma in the eye, marvel at her beautiful roundness, and declare that she was measuring perfectly to allow her baby to grow. I would advise her to re-frame discomfort as a sign to rest and rejuvenate. I would remind her to surround herself with loving thoughts and to wash her baby’s emerging DNA in radiance.
So, Sisters, if you see me looking a little green around the gills or pushing myself further than I should, would you ask me what I am doing to care for myself? Have I eaten in the last 7 hours? (I can tell you the answer is of course not) Would you be willing to step into the role of midwife or doula for a few minutes and make sure I am not being too hard on myself? All of these lessons are part of my ongoing and ever-enlightening education as a servant to other families.