Today’s post is written by Kasaundra Trout. Kasaundra has been a doula for 3 years, serving Salt Lake and Utah Counties. She has volunteered as Vice President of Utah Valley Moms of Multiples and we enjoyed having her on the Utah Doula Association Board as Co-Secretary in 2016. She is passionate about her clients and their emotional wellness and has a program called “The Pregnancy Box” that she uses with them to help process the many emotions surrounding pregnancy and birth. She is on maternity leave for the rest of 2017, but plans to restart her pregnancy and postpartum circles this summer, so keep an eye on her website, edensdoula.com, for more information.
I expected to fall in love with my babies the moment I found out I was pregnant. When that didn’t happen, I began to think that maybe something was wrong with me. Babies are a good thing, right? Besides annoying pregnancy symptoms, I should be overflowing with this newfound maternal love, right?
Sigh. Expectations are a jerk. Connecting with your baby isn’t always easy.
As a doula, I do my best to help women know that there is no wrong way to feel about a pregnancy. Having spent the last 9 months with my own pregnancy, I learned how much it sucks to have to take your own advice. Be that as it may, I was grateful to have my doula bag of tricks. Here is what I discovered…
Mental health is a priority.
So many women don’t know that perinatal anxiety and depression exist. The changing hormones in your body can mess with your ability to feel that surge in love you were expecting. Knowing that this was a factor in my pregnancy helped me take the steps necessary to balance my hormones. It’s a hard battle when you’re fighting against your own body.
Talk about it.
Difficulty connecting with your baby can bring on a lot of emotions. Confusion, grief, anger, anxiety, etc.—just to name a few. Trying to bury them only makes the dirt mound you’re sitting on taller. Get it out. Tell your partner, your close friend, your therapist, or just anyone you feel safe with! You never know… they might just have the words or hug you were looking for.
It’s time to connect thoughts of your baby with something you enjoy. For me, one of those things is music. I picked a song for my baby and listened to it often. When I listened to that song, it’s like a brief window would open up and I could finally feel my baby. I found that picking a name, buying jewelry to wear as a reminder of her, or even learning a new hobby so I could crochet her a blanket was helpful. Don’t be afraid to try new things.
Affirmations are key.
One of the things I make sure my clients know how to do is write affirmations. Before I began learning about birth, I used to write them off as hippy mumbo jumbo. But lucky us, they are actually useful to hippy and mainstream mothers alike! The truth is that they are tools for rewriting your inner dialogue. When we fixate on a problem, we are putting that negative thought on loop through our brain. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. To take the first step in changing your story, you have to change the narrative. Instead of “I can’t”, focus on “I can” or “I am”. Write it down. Tape it on the mirror. Say it out loud. Take the time to give yourself your best chance.
If you are struggling to feel close to your baby as they grow within the womb, my heart goes out to you. I know that frustration. I’ve seen it in the eyes of the women I have cared for. You are not alone. Your feelings may change, and they might not. Mine were complicated. But do you know what my first words were to my baby?
I may not have already had intimate knowledge of who she was when they laid her in my arms, but she was finally there. I have 18 years to get to know this little one. It hasn’t taken us that long to fall in love with each other, but there was no rush. We had time. And so do you.