Words hold so much power and we have all felt the effect of their power at some point in time but do we always remember that the words we say hold the same amount of force as the ones we listen too.
For a new mama, words can make or break their day.
Three words in particular; should, could and would.
Womens bodies are strong and capable, never more so than in labour and birth. Also true though, is that women and her gazillion emotions can be fragile and delicate, being particularly vulnerable while trying to get to know their new bubba, often guilt overriding every other feeling that tries to come to the party. This is not a weakness, but a consideration that we need to understand.
I have experienced and witnessed the moments when the wrong word creeps into a well meaning sentence and destroys whatever self confidence had existed before its arrival.
Let me show you what I mean. An example I come across all the time.
You should breastfeed your baby whenever they are upset!
You could offer your breast to your baby when she is upset.
Would you like to offer your breast to your baby when he is upset?
Notice how different each sentence feels when you change the wording? I have spoken about this before in my blog on judgement.
One is a direction, one is a suggestion, the other is a question.
For a mum that is already struggling with what she thinks or feels is best to do with their crying baby, these three variations can pull at their heartstrings in very different ways. If a mother feels she “should” be doing something, the guilt is overwhelming, especially if it wasn’t the answer she was hoping for. When a mother is given a suggestion, she can make a choice to try it and see how it feels for her. If a mother is asked what she would like to do, she has time to consider it and decide if she wants to take that approach without any shame for choosing her answer.
Every mother has the right to work out what kind of a parent they want to be. In the same way that babies have different personalities and different needs, so does a mother.
We all understand the basic needs for babies, they need love, food and sleep. We all understand the basic needs for parents, they need love, food and sleep.
For some mothers, love is in the form of endless snuggles. For another mother, love is in the form of routine and patterns and then there are others who slide in and out of structure and chaos as the moments present themselves.
How a mother is able to endure the lack of sleep and endless half eaten, not always overly nutritious meals, is up to her. Allow a woman time and respect to work out her mothering style. Maybe she enjoys spending her days with a babe in her arms, maybe that makes her feel successful as a parent, maybe that makes her feel loved and proud or maybe she just feels like that’s how she can get things done. Maybe she enjoys more structure, maybe she enjoys feeling like she is getting her baby (and herself) into an independent routine and this offers her the ability to feel like she can give more love without restriction. Personalities; the strengths and abilities someone has, naturally changes the way they will approach things.
I had four babies and as I got older, as my experience grew and changed, I approached parts of motherhood in different ways. My personality though, did determine my overall approach to “managing” motherhood. The way I did things was sometimes very different to that of my best friend, my sister, my mother, the midwife who visited me. Not because any one way was wrong over another but simply because we are different people, our babies were different, our husbands are different, the amount of support we had around us was different, the era we grew up with was different.
I looked at mothers I admired and what parts of their mothering I wanted to adopt and then tweaked it/adapted it to fit my personality, my beliefs, my needs and abilities.
If a mother asks for help or suggestions, you can tell her what worked for you, but be clear in the understanding; what works for one woman, baby, family is not always what works for the next. What you think, say and do is not gospel and I constantly have to reassure new mothers of this, usually after they have been spoken to by a birth professional that seems to have lost their ability to show compassion and just want to tick all the boxes, state their opinion and walk away. I am sure they all have meant well, but their delivery of advice has been nothing short of a train wreck.
There are parts of motherhood that are good and sensible to replicate. Most of the time a mother that is good and sensible will work that out without having to be told.
When a mother is not so natural at the good and sensible part, let her be told with kindness and respect, compassion and courtesy. Ask smart questions to give smart answers.
If you live on the Bellarine Peninsula, Geelong region of Surfcoast Shire and you or someone you know needs a little extra love, a helping hand, some good and sensible support, please contact me, I would love to be part of your “village”.
For every woman, for every birth.