Have you ever offered advice or information to someone only to be told: “shut up if you can’t be supportive”? And then walked away scratching your head about how your comment could have been construed as “unsupportive”?
Or have you ever shared your story in a group and had people ask a range of questions and offer a variety of information and come away wondering “why can’t you just support my choice”?
I’ve been running the VBAC Australia Support Group for the last 8ish years and I see this a LOT!
Women are constantly asking for support when what they really want is validation of their choice.
Support says: You can do better, have better and deserve better.
Women DESERVE quality maternity care that supports their birthing goals. Telling women “I support you to do whatever your doctor says, even if it's not likely to lead to the birth you want” is NOT supportive. It tells women that OB centred, policy oriented “care” is okay. It sends the message that it’s okay for your OB to give you non-evidence based care and we’ll support that to happen. It sends the message that these women can’t do better, have better or deserve better.
I always wonder if it's true support when we "support" women to continue the cycle of bullying, manipulation and disrespect in birth?
Validation says: Of course that's a good choice.
Regardless of whether it actually supports the woman’s goals or not. Regardless of why she made that decision. Regardless of whether it is actually an evidence based choice or not.
Sometimes women do just need validation because they are not in a place to believe in being or doing better. Sometimes women need validation because they simply can't face the possibility that things could possibly have been better, that they could have made different or better decisions. I’m not saying that validation doesn't have its place. But it doesn't encourage growth or betterness.
Support can be challenging. That’s because it is challenging to question our cultural conditioning, our beliefs and our decisions. Support is about growth and growth can be uncomfortable. Learning that the decisions we made in the past may not have really helped us towards our goals or may have actively contributed to our problems can be tough.
Women who seek true support, who are willing to get a little uncomfortable now and then and who are willing to grow and learn tend to have informed, powerful and confident births – no matter whether they achieve their birthing goals or not.
But the current “mummy wars” culture tells women that if someone doesn’t validate your choice, if they ask questions or offer alternative information, then they are judging you.
How do we fight back and change this?
How do we create a system where women not only feel supported to achieve their birthing and parenting goals, but actually are supported? Where women don't just feel empowered, but are truly powerful?
Where women are told that they CAN do better, have better and that they deserve better?
As a VBAC mentor I love to support women to be the power in their birth story. I support women to make the decisions that will help them achieve their goals and then I support them to change their goals if needed. I’m not afraid to ask a question or challenge a belief, but I understand that cultural conditioning is very hard to overcome.
I love to see my clients enter their motherhood feeling: Informed, powerful and confident.
And I love knowing that my support may have helped in some small way.
Ps: Ready to plan your VBAC from a place of power? Want the support that will help you do better, have better, and feel like you truly deserve better? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask about my VBAC mentoring program.
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