Today I am sharing a guest post by my friend Amy L Riley, who has just published her first book “Loving the Pregnant You”. In her book, Amy shares how to release the pressure that many expectant moms feel — the feeling that you’ve got to be perfect and do everything exactly right during those nine months. The pressure stemming from others’ expectations, from the resources you consult, and even from yourself. The Loving the Pregnant You book gives you the framework from which to create the best experience for you. It is your guide to creating YOUR pregnancy YOUR way. So, no matter what happens on a given day, you love the pregnant you.
In honor of the the launch day of Amy’s book, here is an excerpt from Loving the Pregnant You.
Having the “whole” conversation
[an excerpt from the “Loving the Pregnant You” book by Amy L Riley]
In Debra’s family, they had always talked openly about pregnancy and birth, and were particularly proud about not shying away from discussing the messy process of birth. Delivery stories were passed down from generation to generation. Since Debra was a little girl, she’d known that her great-grandmother gave birth to eight kids at home. Debra’s great-grandmother would work on the farm all day and when she felt that it was about time, she’d go into her kitchen, dangle herself over the kitchen sink and give birth there. The older siblings knew what was going on and, in some instances, helped catch their new younger brother or sister as they were born. Birth was not something to hide from the family. It was not considered too messy or intimate to be shared.
Debra felt this openness had benefited her family in many ways. She believed her female relatives had less trepidation about their pregnancies because they’d been exposed to what happens and were not overwhelmed by “unknowns.” She saw male relatives actively support their pregnant wives. Familiarity and exposure created comfort and confidence in her family.
In Jenny’s case, she wished she’d been more informed about what was really going to happen, including the unexpected, confusing, dirty, awkward, and gross parts.
After Jenny delivered her son at home in a blowup swimming pool, she was helped to an air mattress where she then delivered the placenta. In hindsight, she said she wasn’t at all prepared for the process of delivering the placenta. For her, it was painful, strange, and confusing.
Jenny had always been aware that there were aspects of pregnancy and birth that “we” as a society don’t talk about and this experience of delivering her placenta just underlined that for her. So, in an effort to capture the totality of her birth experience, Jenny took pictures of the pool after the birth of her son. She captured the multi-colored water. She admitted it was weird and she wasn’t sure what she’d do with the pictures. Yet, something profound and extremely important had taken place there. She wanted to memorialize that. It was a beautiful, miraculous event and…it was human and messy and involved bodily excretions.
Now, this might not at all be something you’re comfortable looking at or discussing. That’s totally fine and that’s really good for you to know. You want to do what works for you. And, I see an opportunity to expand what gets shared in mainstream conversations to help dissipate the feelings of confusion and shame that you can feel when you’re grappling with something completely foreign or new. When you’ve never heard anyone talk about what you’re experiencing, you can assume that what’s occurring is obviously embarrassing or shameful or weirdly rare. Right? That’s why no one talks about it!
When we’re feeling gross and confused, for example, about this unidentifiable discharge on our underwear “Is it the mucus plug already? Is it normal to just have some ongoing discharge during the third trimester? Am I peeing my pants a little bit all the time?” It can be the last thing we want to talk about with people. My desire for women to share stems from not wanting anyone to feel gross or ashamed of something that’s simply normal and natural.
You’ll encounter weird or disconcerting aspects of pregnancy and birth. That’s a given. You can choose to hide these aspects from others, feeling confused, ashamed, and alone. Or you can courageously share about them and discover that it’s not weird or concerning, or that you are at least not alone in those feelings.
Check In. What is difficult to accept? What feels unnatural, weird, annoying, or gross?
What is surprisingly easy to accept?
Today, more and more pregnant moms are being very intentional about what they are creating and are sharing their full stories, including the good, the disappointing, and the miraculous! For some, the messy, bodily excretion-type aspects of the pregnancy experience might be the most disconcerting and difficult to talk about. Others take this in stride, yet might find different aspects to be uncomfortable, silly, or embarrassing. There can be great value in talking freely and openly.
To hear more from the author, Amy L. Riley, and the over 100 women she interviewed for the “Loving the Pregnant You” book, visit the “Loving the Pregnant You” website and/or order your copy of the book here.