Over the past months I’ve interspersed this blog with the ups and downs of pregnancy: the hormonal and emotional rollercoaster ride, the body changing beyond control, that first time you hear the heart beat, the magic of feeling the bump dweller move about and how the movements then turn into one of the main sources of discomfort. Of course, most of us have very different experiences of pregnancy, some breeze through, others, in the extreme, face a serious danger to their and their foetus’ life.
To me, one amazing really magical element of pregnancy is how society embraces a pregnant woman: You get total strangers smiling at you, starting a conversation, the most random people ask how long you have to go, whether it’s a boy or a girl… even in a cosmopolitan like London where everyone seems miserable, with their heads down, you find random strangers smiling at you! (Exclude the brutal commuter mob from this of course!) It is beautiful how complete strangers become helpful and protective, how our in-build instincts to further our human race comes out to protect the woman. The warmth just pours from people.
Alongside the support , there is an out-pour of advice from people. Some extremely helpful, some however well-meant are just wrong for the particular situation and are based on the biases of the people providing it. Whatever the content and it’s validity it is none-the-less an extension of the protective instinct we feel towards a pregnant woman and I still feel on the balance the positive and helpfulness outweigh the bad bits.
Personally, I am truly grateful for all the support I have thus far received and value all the different viewpoints!
On the whole, the professionals supporting women in this stage of their life are truly amazing. Just last week I had an encounter with two wonderful midwives- an independent midwife, Liz Nightingale (of Purple walnut midwifery) who has helped me immensely in talking through my previous birth experiences, making sense of what happened, what went wrong and explaining about the physiology and alternative options. The hour and a bit spent with her were a Godsend! (If anyone else has any fears going into a subsequent labour, look into it if you hospital offers a “debriefing” of the previous labour(s), most hospitals do and they can be very helpful!)
The other midwife I connected with is the midwife under whose care I’m transferring to at our GP surgery, as my original midwife is going onto maternity leave. Penny, this other wonderful professional, took time to look up information from the past which I didn’t have access to, call me back to discuss it in detail, again resolving a lot of unanswered questions. She was so supportive and comforting even over the phone. If that wasn’t enough, she also gave me her mobile number to ring anytime I have any concerns or need questions answering (… yeah I know… I become a little needy in pregnancy. My normal confidence disappears. Apparently it happens quite frequently.)
Now the downside of the protectiveness society shows towards pregnant women: You almost become public property, well at least the bump seems to become so. I’ve observed it in especially in more tactile cultures, you find people, mostly women, after exchanging a just few words with you, feeling up the bump. At first I found this funny, now as bump grows it sometimes becomes very off-putting and I just want to scream. No wonder there are t-shirts saying “Hands off the bump!” and the likes.:-)
I don’t mind as long as people ask first instead of lunging in for the strokes and touching straight away. If they ask I will put my hands on some more sensitive parts of my tummy (around my belly button), and then they can feel away… maybe even get a kick or two from Sticky Bean.