There is no preparation without looking out for information.
Knowledge is power. It allows you to know what are your options and how you can make a choice.
For that, you have to find the information that you need.
So let’s remove some pressure right now : There is no right or wrong decision when it comes to the majority of Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting topics.
So here’s what I’ve learned : As a student midwife in France, I’ve learned what is the right way to care about a couple during pregnancy, birth and postpartum. The do(s) and don’t(s) and strictly forbidden(s). Only to find, as I moved to England, that some of the « absolutely don’t »… were there routine practices. And vice-versa. The same thing happened when I moved to Germany. And everyone has the medical evidence-based proof that their way is the best for the baby and the mother (in this order)(feminist topic we’ll have to discuss some day). I have also learned that every topic is highly polemic : Breastfeeding Vs. Bottle feeding, Epidural Vs. Natural birth, co-sleeping Vs. Separated bed …to list some.
For each, you can find :
Serious medical resources that will quote researches proving their point,
Testimonials talking about how they started with one way because everyone told them it was the best but actually they ended up traumatised,
Testimonials about how this was so marvellous for them, and truly this. Is. The. Best.
So how do we do this without ending up overwhelmed, lost and already feeling a taste of this I’m not-good-enough-parent before actually having your child ?
In finding the information that YOU need !
Find your own middle.
Find what is it that YOU need to know, to make the best choice for YOU , YOUR couple and (future) YOUR family.
Finding your middle means to pinpoint what you are attracted to in terms of pregnancy, birth and parenting. And then to research in this area. I have several best books that I could recommend but they are just mine. Because they are talking to ME, with topics that make me vibrate, with a voice that I understand and integrate.
Find what that looks like for you.
Take time to read the back cover : Does it touch you or not ? Does this Instagram account uplift you ? Is it someone you can relate to ? Do you feel inspired ? Do you feel it is broadening your views ? And most important : does it make you CURIOUS ?
Be radical in your choices, only follow when you feel a Yes. You don’t need dozens of resources, just a few, well chosen for you, that you can keep coming back to and dive a little bit deeper each time.
Now, I am going to contradict myself right away : Also go to the subjects you don’t want to hear from.
The ones that you are avoiding, that are making you anxious. Here again, take time to do it with a resource that you feel is good for you. I think for those subjects, it is probably better to do it with someone you can talk about, someone who is knowledgeable and that you trust.
If you only follow what you are attracted to, the risk is to create a bubble of magical thinking that might shockingly pop if things don’t go as planned or if you can’t apply what you learned for some reasons. (and this is going to happen at some point)(because this whole journey is also about unknown and unpredictability).
Another great way is to use others’ stories to find some gold.
One story can make the difference and set you on your right path.
For the best and often the worst, as soon as you get pregnant people start to share their birth story (when you’re lucky) or other story they heard about (mostly in the horror movie category). You are totally allowed to filter what you want to hear or not and to be straght forward to people : « Does this help » is your compass.
But asking the right questions can turn a story you don’t want to hear into a heart-to-heart conversation that will give you the information you need !
Here are few questions to play with :
If someone is sharing with you an un-wished story or advice : « You know, I find it sometimes stressful to hear birth stories/advice, how did you deal with it ? Was it stressful for you to ?»
Someone is telling you that she had such a looooooong labour and it was sooooo hard : « How did you do it ? What helped you to keep going on ? » (actually works for any kind of difficult situation)
Someone tells you something on the line : « What! You want to do this ? But you know this is better » : « You know, I feel i am advised everything and its contrary, how did you find the information that was right for you ? »
And one of my favourite : « Is there anything you think : « I’ve never heard about that and I wish someone would have told me ? » »
So, in short: There is no right or wrong, just what you feel is right for you. Be curious, follow the Yes. Also go to explore what stands on the other side. Make the most out of others’s stories.
And remerber, there is also magic !
For more food for thoughts, here’s a article of Nikki Shaheed about this topic : how-to-mine-an-uninvited-birth-story-for-gold/