In past centuries, most women witnessed childbirth multiple times before they experienced labor for themselves. Many women also assisted relatives with household duties and child care during the immediate postpartum period. When it was their turn to enter into motherhood, they knew what to expect. They had practical support and they had other mothers to model after. While some women still have this experience, many women in our culture do not.
“It takes a village to raise a child,” a saying in which I wholeheartedly believe as a mom and as a doula. While our culture is not set up like a village, there are ways to build your village to ensure you have adequate support as you journey through parenthood. Many of us may enter parenthood assuming we can or should do this on our own but the good news is we do not have to.
The first step in building your village is finding a healthcare provider you truly trust and one that will offer holistic support throughout your pregnancy. You should have a provider that will answer your questions and concerns no matter how big or how small. Many women find this type of care with a midwife or their family practice doctor while others choose an obstetrician. Regardless of which type of provider you choose, be sure you feel comfortable talking with them about any concerns you may have during your pregnancy.
The next step is finding ways to prepare for childbirth and motherhood. Visiting a local La Leche League or other nursing moms groups while pregnant is a great way to start building your village. If you sign up for a childbirth series, this will provide you with the educational aspect of labor preparation as well as an opportunity to connect with other new parents in your community. A small private series that holds class reunions after delivery can be a great way to really get to know other parents. Another excellent source of support is a birth doula. She can provide prenatal education and continuous labor support which may really help you to have a positive labor experience.
Before and after baby arrives, remember to get help! If you have family available, are part of a church or community organization or belong to a moms’ group, they can help to set up meals and ease your transition into motherhood. Many moms also find they can benefit from experienced help provided by a postpartum doula. A postpartum doula can offer lactation support, is knowledgeable about postpartum emotions, and can help build your parenting confidence while offering an extra set of hands.
As your journey continues, look into local playgroups, mom groups and reach out to other new moms you might meet at the park or children’s museum. In the early months, try a new-moms’ support group or a nursing moms support group to connect with others who understand frequent feeds and sleepless nights. Encourage dad to reach out to other dads and find the support he needs during this transition as well.
Between family, friends and professional support, it is very possible to find that village to help you transition into motherhood and thrive. Unfortunately the village is rarely right outside our door like it was in the past. But with some reaching out, you can find your village!