Seven months ago I had my first child. After many hormone injections (including many hormonal roller coasters) and two painful egg retrievals, I was finally pregnant!
I had an uncomplicated pregnancy, a quick and rather easy childbirth, and a good postpartum period. I have been able to breastfeed my child from the beginning and fortunately she has not yet had any complications in her life. She’s a very content and happy baby who sleeps well, eats well, and even pees and poops on the toilet.
Of course, there are days when she cannot be pleased whatever my husband or I do, and nights when she screams and keeps us awake for hours. However, this is certainly an anomaly, and I’ve realized that I’m a very fortunate mommy.
But I cannot fully settle with that. Based upon my experiences with my daughter, I’ve come to realize that it should not be a privilege to have a safe childbirth, to get adequate information regarding everything from pregnancy to the postnatal time and everything there is to it (and it’s a lot), or to have knowledgeable, caring people around who help and support whenever it’s needed.
While I was pregnant, I often thought about how I – as a public health student, a friend, a sister and a mother-to-be – could affect and make a change, because I am fully aware of the many women and children around the globe who are not as fortunate as I am.
So, I decided that I would be completely open and candid to my environment. That had to be the least I could do, right?
I could often feel the curiosity around me while the bump on my belly was growing bigger and bigger. I practically encouraged my friends to ask me questions, I told them: “Don’t be shy – I’m an open book!” And boy, did I get questions – from my fellow public health students from around the world, from friends and family, and even from strangers. Everything from: “Are you allowed to walk stairs?” to “Is it possible for you to have sex without hurting the baby?”
After the delivery, the questions kept coming. And I continued to answer as thoroughly as I possibly could, and told my anecdotes over and over again. I did (and still do) it with pleasure every time, whether if it’s regarding the peeing-and-pooping-on-the-toilet-thing or the feeling of surrendering myself into my baby girl’s eyes for the first time.
Being open has given me so much. It feels like the women in my surroundings dare to confide in me – pregnant or not, mother or not – no matter their struggles, they know I won’t judge them. We all have our battles, little or big ones, with ourselves or with others. I wish that battles regarding pregnancy and having children wouldn’t be something we harbor within ourselves, but something that we speak freely about.
My interest in maternal and infant health has amplified since becoming a mother and I want to continue on this route – to share my experience and knowledge, and hopefully what will also become my professional expertise. And then, I hope that I will be able to be part of a bigger change towards a more just and gender equal society, where every woman has access to health care and accurate information. For now, in the position I currently find myself in, I can only continue doing what I do – love, share and care, and encourage others to do the same.
Cover photo credit: Mia Ydholm (pictured with her 3 week old baby).