"That sounds so freaking scary! Do I have to?
That would have been the first thing I thought a few years ago when reading the title. And yes, if you desire an empowered, beautiful pregnancy, birth, and motherhood experience, this would be the way to go. According to me, that is…"
My own journey
I want to share something from my own journey that profoundly impacted how I approach decisions. It's not meant to sound patronizing in any way but rather to shed light on an aspect that I, too, experienced when I started taking charge of my choices. It wasn't the moment I turned 18 because then I was considered an adult. It took me quite a bit longer... and honestly, I am still growing in this aspect. Much of it has to do with considering myself an important part of my life, instead of first considering others to be the most important persons in my life. I am the one having to live with my choices and decisions, no matter if anyone else is encouraging my choices or not understanding them at all.
When I began making decisions for myself, I realized that at times, I wasn't fully embracing the responsibility that came with those choices. There were moments when I either didn't want to face the consequences or simply didn't know how to deal with them. Even now, in certain aspects of my life, I catch myself leaning towards avoiding responsibility instead of confronting it head-on. This was also not a one-moment decision, and from then on, I just did it. It's something that developed and slowly got stronger over time. Shaping me with every decision I make, especially the hard ones, the decisions no one or just a few understand.
I share this not to preach but because I recognize its importance in the journey to motherhood. Taking increasing responsibility is a vital part of creating your own empowered birth experience. It's a process I've struggled with, and I believe it's something crucial for you to be aware of as well.
Becoming a mother is not just about welcoming new life; it's also a profound transformation for you as an individual. Embracing responsibility is a key aspect of this evolution. It's a step towards not only shaping your birth experience but also fostering personal growth. I would like to begin by emphasizing something crucial to consider, not only during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum but in life in general. The choice you make is yours, always! Even if you choose to follow someone's advice, you were still the one making that choice. You cannot transfer your choice or responsibility to anyone else, not even to an expert in the field, be it a doctor, midwife, or whoever. So when anything goes wrong, you cannot simply say, "But I followed the advice of the doctor, so it's not my fault." You made a decision to follow the advice, and when it goes wrong, it was still your decision. The good news is; when it goes well, it was also still your decision! So, you are also responsible for the good outcome of things too. Isn´t that great?
Your choices are your responsibility, always
On that note, I want to be explicitly clear: I am not providing you with any medical advice in this blog or anywhere else on my website or socials. I merely present you with the options and choices you have. The ultimate decision and responsibility rest with you, not your doctors, and certainly not with me. Your choices are your responsibility, always.
This is not (just) to safe my ass from potential misinterpretations of the information I share. Rather, it underscores the importance of taking responsibility for yourself, your health, and that of your baby and family. It is part of growing up and becoming an adult even though you might have already reached the age, the real growing up is when you cease relinquishing the responsibility for your or your child's health to another person.
How do you recognize for yourself that you are not taking responsibility?
When repeatedly using phrases like 'But my mother would be very anxious if I would/wouldn't,' 'I want to/don’t want to, but my healthcare practitioner says I have to…,' 'But everyone says,' 'But if I do it differently, no one will understand,' 'But if I make that decision and it goes wrong, it is my fault,' here's a news flash: it will always be 'your fault,' even if you choose to defer the responsibility to someone else. You still choose to surrender your power of decision, which, in reality, is not possible since it will still have been your choice to go along with whatever anyone told you. Making decisions based on others' opinions will ultimately leave you feeling powerless over your life. When expecting new life, you have a special responsibility for that life too, making it extra important to assume responsibility, together with your partner. Many decisions will come your way, not just in pregnancy and birth but in motherhood too. This is just the beginning where you can start practicing taking on the responsibility of parenthood.
Listen to everyone, and then make your own decision
I am not saying at all that you should not listen to your healthcare provider, mother, friend, or whoever. Most of us are lucky enough that the people close to us love us dearly and just want the very best for us and our baby. Unfortunately, they too are shaped by experiences and stories and more often than not, base their advice upon fear. Often the birth stories you hear are coloured, don’t provide the full picture, and the experiences, no matter how awful (I would never dismiss these experiences as untrue because this is how they have perceived the situation and the stories are important to them), represent just one side of the story. Unfortunately, when it comes to traumatic birth stories, the parents themselves don’t always have the full picture, making it even more difficult to rely on their stories.
Making a decision based upon unclear information or from a place of fear is often not the best starting point. Making a decision from an informed perspective and a place of trust is crucial for an empowered pregnancy, birth and motherhood.
So, absolutely do listen, extract useful information, search for evidence, and consider various possibilities. Make your own informed decision based on the full perspective, considering your values, emotions in different situations, and your willingness to take or not take risks. Ensure it is your decision and yours alone and assume responsibility for whatever choice you make.
Making your own decisions doesn’t mean never taking advice from anyone
In my blog, website, social media channels, and courses, I aim to present you with various choices based on my knowledge and perspective. It is up to you to assess and further research the information I provide to determine what aligns with your values. For medical advice, it is essential to consult a qualified healthcare professional. Similarly, when receiving medical advice, you can employ the same approach: research, evaluate, and make an informed decision based on what resonates with you.
Your choices and decisions shape your life, and understanding the information presented is crucial for making empowered and informed choices. There are circumstances where you cannot stop and gather information before making a decision, circumstances where the decision has to be made right at that moment. In these cases, it is crucial that you have prepared yourself well, considered your options beforehand, and then, still, sometimes the unexpected or never-thought-of scenario happens. In that case, it is important that you trust yourself in the decision you made for your healthcare provider and that they will inform you at that moment in the best way possible. Making your own decisions doesn’t mean never taking advice from anyone; it means that if you take the advice, you still know and feel that going along is your choice and your responsibility.
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Want to delve into the material yourself? Good idea! Here are my sources
Howarth AM, Swain N, Treharne GJ. Taking personal responsibility for well-being increases birth satisfaction of first time mothers. Journal of Health Psychology. 2011;16(8):1221-1230. doi:10.1177/1359105311403521