Motherhood is completely new to me. Sure, I have seen many mummies made, and fathers too. Being a midwife without children has, at times, been difficult. There is an amount of prejudice that if you are not a mother, you can’t be a good practitioner. I have lost count of the times someone has said, “Have you got kids? Well you how can you help a woman in labour? You have no idea.” Which is hard to listen to again and again. My response has always been, “Do you have to have cancer to nurse on an oncology ward?”, that usually gets the point across.
I am already starting to feel the pressure that motherhood brings; be it from other parents, television and even my own thoughts and opinions. There was a definitive moment I moved from being a woman to a mother. It was when I was told that I would need an amniocentesis as they were unsure our baby was well. That moment, where one million fleeting thoughts raced through my head, made me into a mum. The responsibility on mine and my husband’s shoulders as to whether we should have the procedure, then what we would do with the information, and the impact that the choice would have on ours and our unborn baby’s life, was gigantic. To find that the little one was well, further made us into parents. We had taken the first leap into the stress that parenthood brings. What on earth we should do for the best, and the worry of our baby’s health, was the first stepping stone.
Since then each little building block has added to preparing for parenthood. From people asking how I will feed; how we will wean; what birth I will have (if only we got a choice?!) and the judgments that come along with the responses have started to make me into a guilty mother already.
My biggest guilt is feeding. No, I won’t be breastfeeding, but not by choice, I take medication that cannot be combined with breastfeeding. The subsequent question is always, “Why can’t you stop taking it?”. Would you ask that of a diabetic? Why can’t you stop taking your insulin? No, unfortunately it isn’t an option for me either. I feel incredibly guilty for not being able to breastfeed, as a midwife the pressure is phenomenal to breastfeed your child, how can I promote it if I can’t practice what I preach? The prejudice I’ve received universally is huge. I have ended up just saying, “Yes, I’m breastfeeding, couldn’t imagine it any other way” to everyone, just to dodge the questions and disapproving looks.
I also feel the mummy guilt when it comes to monitoring my pregnancy. Has the baby moved enough today is a constant concern. Unfortunately there have been a couple of times the answer has been no. We were easily reassured with a quick monitoring at our hospital, but I then feel guilty that maybe I had judged it wrong and I had caused concern for nothing. I feel I should know better as a midwife and that I should know if little one is ok or not. I feel guilty that I am causing unnecessary intervention with, now twice weekly, CTG monitorings and scans to keep an eye on babies health. I wonder if I am making a fuss, but I just can’t tell. I feel guilty that I should be able to. I feel like the staff look at me and judge me for not knowing what to do in every situation, and that I am meant to be trained for this. They don’t understand I can’t be impartial about this and my judgment is flawed.
I have been writing this post for a week now, and rewritten it many times. I wondered if I should publish it, beings as it was quite personal. But I wanted to share with everyone how, even as a midwife, being pregnant and a mummy-to-be doesn’t mean I’m switched on about what to do when it comes to my own care. I’m a mum now, and despite my job I have to step away from my knowledge and let someone else take the lead. I understand this is quite a negative post and not my usual upbeat tone, that’ll be back next time, but for now, I’m just like every other pregnant mother in the world.
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