A few weeks ago it was National Kindness Day and ever since then I have been thinking about this quote by Dr. Marshall Klaus: "Be very kind to the mother." I have also been thinking that every day needs to be a kindness day.
Because mothers for the most part are the caregivers and nurturers of the world, it is especially important that they are shown kindness in return. Dr. Klaus and his colleague Dr. Kennel "discovered" that when a woman is accompanied by a kind doula, their labors were shorter. A doula's sole focus is on the laboring woman and her partner, giving support and reassurance that is so needed. We are fortunate here in Helena to have caring, supportive nurses at St. Peter's Health. However, they can't always be at your bedside as other duties frequently occupy their time. This is where a doula comes in because she is constantly at your side and you've already established a trusting relationship with her. Helena Birth Studio is another option where one can find compassionate and kind care with Amanda Osborne as your midwife.
Pregnancy brings a unique showering of attention on the woman. Everyone is excited for her, continually asking how she's doing etc. This generally culminates in a baby shower, which ironically produces a plethora of gifts for baby but very little for the momma to be and many horror stories about birth. It's time we started being kind to the mother to be. Shower HER with things that will make her more comfortable in labor or postpartum. Share stories of encouragement that will make her look forward to meeting her baby, not that will leave her terrified of the birth experience. (If you have such horror stories to share, you might consider counseling to process your trauma - this is a great kindness to yourself.) Once baby is born, all the attention shifts to baby. Everyone wants to see the baby, hold the baby, wants to know how baby is sleeping, how the baby is feeding. It is rare that anyone wants to SEE the mom, hold the mom, ask her how she's sleeping or if she's getting adequate nutrition. This is a very vulnerable time for the new mom and she needs lots of reassurance. Unfortunately mom shaming is alive and well and a new mom will likely get criticized for her parenting style. Guess what. There is no way to be a perfect parent but a million ways to be a great one. So just because a new mom isn't doing something just the way we would have done it, doesn't mean its wrong. This is the time to simply be kind. That's all. Just be kind to the mother.
Perhaps the harshest unkindness comes from within the mother herself. It's easy to fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others who seem to have it all together and feeling like the ultimate failure. The key word here is "seem". Nothing is as it appears and most likely those who seem calm, cool and collected are barely treading water underneath the facade. Others may look like they are supermom because they manage to "do it all". It could very well be that they are doing that to make themselves feel better about themselves because they are making comparisons with others who they think "have it all together". Do you see how this can become a vicious circle. This does you no good and it does others no good when they look at you and compare themselves to you. So mommas, be very kind to yourselves.
What does kindness to yourself look like? Maybe it's getting out of the house for a few hours by yourself to have some fun with friends. But maybe its simply sitting for 5 minutes with a cup of tea or bone broth to catch your breath. Maybe it's asking your mom, best friend or postpartum doula to come over and let you cry on their shoulder. Whatever it looks like for you, it's important to be kind to yourself because that is something you have control over. Receiving kindness from others is not guaranteed.
Here's to being very kind to the mother.