This week I was asked to do a video on how the way I think about the people I work with (pregnant women, birthing and new families, and birthworkers) has changed since I started doing what I do.
I was also asked why the transformation I facilitated in my clients means so much to me.
The first thing that popped into my head was a bell curve, experience, and confidence.
You see before I left science to become a doula I mostly only had theoretical knowledge about pregnancy, birth and parenthood.
Great theoretical knowledge, yes, but theoretical nonetheless.
Then I started working with pregnant women, their partners, and I also started to teach workshops to birthworkers.
Over the course of the first 2 couple of years I had a revelation : Nothing is black and white, and we are all so different.
For EVERYTHING there is a bell curve of normal. With some people at one end of the spectrum, some in the middle and some at the other end. All normal.
I keep learning this everyday and in every aspect of my personal and professional life. I am very humbled and grateful for the learning.
For example I get questions like “which sling do you recommend”. I don’t. They are like jeans or shoes. Try before you buy. What works for your friend may not work for you.
Or I get asked “how soon after a caesarean can I practise the closing the bones massage”. I don’t know. Ask the mum how she feels. Of course waiting until the scar has healed might be common sense, but some mums might be ready after 2 or 3 weeks and some not after even 6. Same for slings-post caesarean, some mums feel ready to carry their babies after days, some not even after weeks. Some mums like the feeling of support that a thick, padded carrier belt on their tummy, some hate it and want nothing near there at all.
I get the same questions about babies “when will my baby sleep through the night”? I don’t know, just like I can’t tell you at what age your baby will start to walk. Your baby is unique, like you. But I can help you work strategies to manage the sleepless nights.
Please, try not to compare yourself to other mums, or to compare your baby to other babies. Usually it doesn’t lead to very positive feelings as we focus on what we perceive is “better” in other families.
We are all different, and unique
Yet many parents looks up to other parents or to parenting “experts” for answers. Professionals do the same to other, more experienced professionals.
Often we are looking for a “magic trick” simple answer to a complex problem.
But what if it wasn’t like that, what if we recognised we can all learn from each other, and more importantly from ourselves?
Supporters- ask the mum how she feels, only she knows how she feels, what is comfy, what suits her. The answers are not to be provided by you but by the person you are supporting, Your role as a supporter is to help the parents find their own answers.
This is much more powerful as support than “teaching” people your way of doing things. This is where real confidence comes from. From believing that you can, that you have the answers, that you know what is right for you and your baby.
It doesn’t means that you can’t look at great role models and use other people’s ideas-but it means that you do so mindfully, and by making the decision yourself-not by asking someone else to tell you what to do.
People who pretend that their “one size fits all approach” or that they have a magic trick to guarantee that you’ll have a pain free birth or that your baby will sleep through the night if you do what they say, they are talking bullshit.
Life just doesn’t work like that.
And when parents ask so-called well intentioned “experts” what to do-be it with books or in real life, and they can’t manage to achieve what has been suggested-they often feel like a failure.
New parenthood is such a vulnerable period, and I am so pissed off that so many people are just cashing in to that vulnerability.
We are all unique.
So why do we always look for others, for “experts” to help us find the answers to our questions?
I think our education has a lot to answer for, where from a very early age we are led to believe that the answers always lie outside ourselves.
I know it certainly has taken me long time, and the journey out of academia and dogma to find my own ways to do things, and become confident in the process.
I also believe our “plaster society” (put a plaster on itand hey-problem gone!) encourages us far too much to seek simple “quick fixes” behaviourist answers to complex issues that require complex and long term solutions.
I love to support you as you take your own journey into learning to listen to your instincts, to your inner voice, finding your own answers.
There is no magic wand.
What do YOU want to do?