Motherhood

‘Ten Things I Always Tell Pregnant Women’

'Ten Things I Always Tell Pregnant Women' by doula Erica Chidi

A conversation with Erica Chidi feels like one big pep talk. A doula, author and co-founder of LOOM (a education hub for pregnancy and parenting in L.A.), Erica has attended more than 300 births. “You’d think after so many years I’ve had my fill of babies,” she says. “But I’m always overwhelmed by the pure joy that fills the room. It’s a beautiful thing to watch a mother and child take each other in for the first time.” Her guidebook, Nurture, comes out tomorrow, and here Erica shares 10 things she tells new mothers…


BECOMING PREGNANT

Fertility. During the conception process, sometimes you need a little help. Adoption or surrogacy or IVF, it’s all great. We should all be empathic and sensitive about how people come to parenthood. You’re a mother, you’re a mother — no matter how you got there.

Listening to your gut. When you’re pregnant for the first time, you may feel vulnerable, and so many people will give you advice. Sometimes that advice isn’t right for you. So, trust to your intuition. That can show up in your body in lots of different ways — basically, if you’re having strong feelings, that’s your intuition speaking to you. Listen to that voice.

Body changes. Be gentle on yourself. The changes in your body are to bring a person into the world. Find comfortable clothing; nightly baths might feel good. It sounds woo-woo, but every day before you leave the house, look at yourself in the mirror, and say, “I love you.” Looking and talking to yourself can feel emotional; you might even cry. It’s a quick practical thing to do to reconnect with a part of yourself that doesn’t typically get a lot of nurturing.

THE BIRTH PROCESS

Packing a bag. If there’s a toilet paper you like, bring it with you. Most hospitals have one-ply! Feel free to bring your robe, pillow or anything else that will help you relax. Also, everyone calls it a “birth bag,” but it can be a wheelie suitcase!

Natural birth. We need to stop using the term “natural birth.” The concept of natural birth is divisive and inherently competitive. All birth is natural. It’s as simple as that. If you want to have the intense sensations of labor and you’re coping well, go for it! If you have a hard time with pain or you have bad associations from trauma, that’s totally okay. You have the inherent right to choose how you want to navigate your birth experience, and those choices should be free of judgment. You should be celebrated for moving through the process of pregnancy and birth, however it unfolds, unmedicated, medicated or cesarean. THERE IS NO UNNATURAL BIRTH. It’s not Westworld. It’s all natural.

Managing labor. Pain in labor is different from any other pain. It’s sophisticated. You won’t feel it continuously for hours — like when you sprain your ankle. You’ll have little breaks between contractions. Whether you’re unmedicated or medicated, here are a few things that might provide comfort: soothing music; an essential oil diffuser (lavender, neroli or both — I’ve seen an instant mood change when doctors/nurses walk into rooms with aromatherapy); a focal point, like bringing a picture into the room and looking at it during contractions; massage; and moving or swaying. Repetition and rhythm can feel good. One client played “Push It” over and over when she was pushing!

Choosing your team. Don’t feel pressure to have your whole family in the room. Labor is an intimate event. Would you want 10 people in the bathroom with you when you’re peeing? Maybe not. Whatever feels best to you is okay. If you need someone to blame it on, blame it on your care provider. Blame it on me!

Helping as a partner. I like having ice chips and frozen grapes on hand (you can keep them in a cooler). Massage can also feel good during labor. Go for long, deep pressure strokes, versus light brisk rubbing. If you’re unsure if your technique is working, here’s a great tip: No news is good news. When a women is in labor, if she doesn’t like something, she’ll let you know!

NEW MOTHERHOOD

Feeding the baby. The most important thing is that you feed your baby. Whether you breastfeed, pump, use formula or do a mix, your baby will be just fine. If you do hope to breastfeed, book a lactation consultant to come to your home within the first seven days. No matter what; set it and forget it. If it’s hard to afford, put it on your registry. It will be the best money ever spent. The first two to four weeks of breastfeeding are the hardest, and a lactation consultant can be a sanity check. After that it generally gets much easier.

Mental health. If you have a history of depression or anxiety — or are starting to feel off — tell your care provider early on in your pregnancy. Mental health is grossly under-discussed in pregnancy, especially since perinatal depression affects roughly 15 to 25 percent of pregnant women. You don’t have to suffer through it. For some women it might be best to take medication; you can work with your provider to make sure that’s safe.

Same goes for when you’re a new mom: You don’t have to grin and bear it. So many mothers internalize those feelings and try to deal with it on their own and it doesn’t have to be that way. Here’s a quick assessment guide and a guide called How Do I Talk To My Doctor (SO SO GOOD). The The Postpartum Stress Center has provider recommendations, too. In New York, there’s the Motherhood Center, as well.

FOR EVERYONE

You did it, you’re doing it and you’ll continue to do it! You are already a great mom. Be gentle on yourself while you cultivate your parenting muscle, and make room for mistakes. No two mothers are going to move through this journey the same way, and that’s a good thing, because your baby needs that special magic only you can bring. I’m thrilled for you, and I’m so proud of you. You’ve got this.


Thank you so much, Erica. Here’s her new book, if you’d like to see. xoxo

P.S. The hardest two months of my life, and a pregnancy survival guide.

(Photo of Erica by Nicki Sebastian for Dôen, published with permission. As-told-to interview by Joanna Goddard.)

  1. Becky says...

    This post could not have been more perfectly timed. I am 3 months pregnant and have been desperately searching for a pregnancy book that isn’t terrifying or too cheesy.. this beautiful post gave me a wonderful feeling of support and empowerment and I cannot wait to receive my copy of this book in a few days. Thank you, thank you!!

  2. Sarah K says...

    I love this message. It always strikes me in a deep wound when mothers express feelings of failure because they had a C-section, or ended up getting an epidural they didn’t plan on, etc. I know what it’s like to go through full labor and deliver a stillborn baby. I don’t say that to terrify anyone but to offer perspective. Mamas, any delivery that ends in a healthy baby and healthy mama is a successful delivery. It wasn’t my that long ago in human history that childbirth was an extremely dangerous undertaking for both the mother and the baby. We are so blessed to have interventions our grandmothers never dreamed of. And even today, with the best medical care, tragedies still occur. We should be profoundly grateful for life, however it arrives.

    I have 4 living children as well, so I’ve also experienced both unmedicated birth and birth with an epidural; the unmedicated birth in my case caused some serious physical trauma.

    And our youngest joined the family through adoption, and I’m here to tell any women wondering about it: it feels NO different to bring a child into your family through adoption than through biological birth. The process is different but the fierce love is the same. It might take a while to sink in (you have 9 months for it to develop with a biological child) but the connection comes and it is profound. It’s just another one of the many miracles that make a family.

    • Amy says...

      I love your comment, Sarah. And I am sorry for your loss. You sound like one awesome mama :)

  3. Katherine says...

    As a women’s health doctor. As a new mother (he’s 1 tomorrow!). As a friend to women who have had all sorts of paths to fertility and delivery. Your words on a natural delivery should be required reading for every human. Thank you for expressing something I have been failing to put in the right words.

  4. Lori says...

    The post hits home to me on so many levels…

    We tried for six long years .. we are so grateful for IVF. If you have a friend going through fertility treatment, please lend her that ear. You don’t even need to say anything, just let her cry or share with you her struggles.

    Breastfeeding.. I took classes, read books, watched videos. I was not prepared that my baby wouldn’t latch and I had low supply. I pushed myself to exclusively pump for three months. Mentally and physically I was so drained. But they drill it in your head that “breast if best”. I couldn’t keep up and my baby was hungry. I gave in, stopped pumping and gave her formula. Best decision ever- for myself and baby.

    PPD – This is very real ladies. I cried so hard and everyday. I didn’t understand why I felt like I couldn’t be a mom, that my baby would be better off without me. But this is baby is what I prayed so hard for all those years of infertility. It was a very dark time. I should have gotten help a lot sooner, but I was indenial until my husband sat me down and said I need to see someone. Therapy has helped move that cloud that was lingering over my head.

  5. Anna says...

    Oh my goodness, thanks for this. I love her philosophy about birth and parenting. So much judgement heaped on us mothers every day, it was refreshing and comforting to read this. I will be sharing this post with my expecting and new mom friends.

  6. Ashley says...

    I don’t have kids and I’m not sure I want them, but wow this is all beautiful advice. I feel so pumped!!!

  7. This is so wonderful! I really believe more women should talk about their feelings during pregnancy. I had ppd and I am so happy I got the help. Too, many people feel that it is a stigma and not a real thing!

  8. Molly L. says...

    I’m 29 weeks pregnant with my first and have had a lot of anxiety after two early losses. This was by far the BEST piece on the transition to motherhood that I have read – I am going to bookmark to read this every day. I look forward to following Erica now and hope to remember her comforting words in the weeks and months to come. Thank you for sharing!

  9. O says...

    I tried to click on the “how to talk to my doctor” that Erica said was so, so good but the link isn’t working. Can you check it and fix the link? I was hoping to read this thanks so much!

  10. Barbara says...

    This was really great! I was a little nervous to read. I had a lot of guilt and sadness when my relatively uneventful labor ended in C section. But each day I get further away from how I became a mother, and deeper into actually being a mother, and I feel a little more ok. My son is happy and healthy! I’m basically a pro! Haha

  11. Kaela Bergquist says...

    I’ve never wanted children myself and as a nursing student thought I would be underwhelmed during my OB clinical. I found myself in the operating room with tears in my eyes anyway as I watched a messy newborn enter the world to complete strangers. Now I work in end of life care and cherish that moment of newness!

  12. Katherine says...

    This post was beautifully said, amen! All birth is natural and breastfeeding and formula are both great. I have two children and am currently pregnant with twins. The possibility of having a C section or not being able to breast feed feel much more real this time because I am having twins. And I am surprised by how OK with it I am. I guess the last five years of motherhood have helped me relax and see a much bigger picture.

  13. KA HOBOKEN says...

    Love that she is so positive. Totally agree with her that ALL birth is natural birth. She reminds me of my lovely doula Anushka Paris Carter!

  14. Amy says...

    Oh wow. I didn’t expect how freeing this would be to read. Thank you for posting. My favourite (which pretty much all of it is honestly) was about ‘natural birth’. Thank you for those words above all.

  15. Jen says...

    YES re lactation consultant. Ours visited us at our lowest ebb on day 3 and gave me such a confidence boost. As a Brit in NYC,I was shocked by the lack of postpartum resources in the US. Back home we have home visits from midwives to check on you as much as baby. The first few weeks of motherhood are such a whirlwind of hormones, exhaustion, terror and joy, you need both emotional and practical support . And to go easy on yourself!

  16. Natalie says...

    I was never able to breastfeed and I still feel guilty about it! I had plenty of milk and my nipples were fine but for some reason my son just refused the breast. I saw several different lactation consultants and tried for two months. I ended up exclusively pumping for three months and then stopped because I got mastitis five times and I had to go back to work. It was one of the most frustrating experiences of my life and the decisions to switch to formula was so hard. But my 16 month old is fine. I’m pregnant with my second and hope i can breastfeed her but am prepared for things not going as planned!

    • Beckxoxo says...

      What a legend you are for trying so very hard! Your son is lucky to have someone so determined on his team x

    • Sarah K says...

      If you have trouble with mastitis again, I highly recommend taking a lecithin supplement. I struggled with clogged ducts, and sometimes the resulting mastitis, with all my babies…with the youngest someone told me about lecithin and it helped SO much. It just kind of lubes things up. And I pumped exclusively for long periods with three of my babies. Getting sufficient sleep is also really important in preventing mastitis. I know, so easy for a new mom. ? Anyway, I hope your second baby takes the breast just fine and none of this is an issue!

    • Amy says...

      I was an OB nurse for 12 years before staying home with my littles. I loved helping new babies and mamas breastfeed…..but, some babies JUST WON’T breastfeed. You definitely gave it your all! I am a fan of breastfeeding…but honestly, I would not have hung in there as long as you! There should be some sort of award for what you did! That is some fierce love! I hope whichever route you go this time, that you find some peace :)

  17. Susan says...

    A pregnancy lasts 9 months, labour (thankfully!) a whole lot less, but being a parent is for life. I’m so happy to hear about people like Erica supporting women to have the best possible start on this lifelong journey, and encouraging choice as integral to this process. I wish I’d read this before I got pregnant and had kids – it would have eleviated so many of my anxieties!

  18. Amy says...

    This is the MOST POSITIVE thing I’ve ever read about birth and motherhood. Thank you.

  19. Kayla says...

    Thank you for writing this. As a mama who did not end up having the birth, postpartum or breastfeeding experience I was planning on, I felt like I had FAILED somehow. Even though I gave birth! And loved my baby! And I was trying! Birth, babies and mothering are not a one size fits all experience and this post was so wonderful and encouraging to read.

  20. Natalie P says...

    I am SO happy to see this post. I am currently pregnant with #2 and when I think about what I have learned after having my first, this list is spot on. Such a loving and generous viewpoint on so many parts of pregnancy and early motherhood.

    Jo, I’ve been following you since your glamour.com days and I just want to say thank you for all of the thoughtful and insightful posts that you share with your readers on a daily basis. We’re a lucky bunch!

  21. Katherine says...

    This was so wonderful. Thank you.

  22. Katie says...

    I’m so moved by this post. I just had my second child last month and did not expect to feel so at sea all over again. The idea that your baby “needs that special magic only you can bring” brought tears to my eyes and is something I needed to hear but didn’t realize it. Thanks to Erica and to you for steadying this vulnerable, sort-of-new mother.

  23. Rabia says...

    love love this post! the part about natural birth made me LOL cause it’s true. THERE IS NO UNNATURAL BIRTH! hear hear! will be sending this post to all the mothers i know xx

  24. Joannie says...

    This was so affirming. These ten things are truly what a new momma needs to hear. I’m eight months into motherhood and this really resonates with me. Thank you!

  25. B Cres says...

    I loved this post! I responded to every point with a – yes, YES! I just had my 3rd baby 3 weeks ago and each labor, delivery and recovery was completely different. I remember exclaiming after the birth of my first, “why didn’t anyone tell me it would be like that!” That’s how I felt about postpartum recovery too, I had no idea what I was in for! The best piece of advice I received was regarding recovery – each day gets a bit better. It’s something I repeated often to myself and helped me get through.

  26. Julia says...

    I appreciated this so much at 19 weeks pregnant for the first time! My beloved mother-in-law, who has now sadly passed away, didn’t breastfeed because she simply was repulsed by the idea and couldn’t get over it. She said some of her nurses were kind of mean to her about it but she stood firm! Her sons are some of the healthiest people I know, don’t have any allergies, and never get sick. That one anecdote has made me feel so much better about making my own choices and not letting other people make me feel bad. I am terrified of breastfeeding, to be perfectly honest, although I do plan to give it a good try and see how it goes. But it’s so comforting to know I can have a healthy happy child without it. I hope I’m able to assuage the mom guilt in all areas as my baby is born and grows up…I think our society can be a little bit awful to moms sometimes!

  27. Mandy says...

    Thank you so much for this. I’m 37, have been trying to have a baby for six years, and have been unsuccessful. When I decided to read this, I thought, “why are you doing this to yourself?” — this topic usually just upsets me —but this is so beautiful and thoughtful that even I felt included and loved and a part of things. Thank you for this message. Thank you.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Sending you so much love, Mandy. I’m rooting for you, and will be thinking of you. xoxo

    • Elle says...

      Are you me? I am the same age with the same issues and thought “I should probably skip this one to avoid the inevitable pain”…and then also felt included and part of this story. Wishing you all the best on this journey xoxo

    • Lori says...

      Mandy – my heart is with you. We tried for six years, and I know how painful it is.

    • Sarah K says...

      I’m so glad you felt included, Mandy, and so sorry for your struggles. Wishing you much happiness and fulfillment.

  28. abs says...

    I love this! Especially the parts about natural childbirth and feeding your baby. This is important stuff and so honest and real. Thank you for posting and helping to approach the sometimes polarizing and guilt-inducing way we approach childbirth and childrearing.

  29. Mary says...

    I am not a mom yet, but am training to become a postpartum doula and this post and these comments are timely and reassuring to me as I dive into this world to help the moms around me in North Carolina! Thank you!

  30. Meredith says...

    My husband and I are in the early stages of kind of, sort of, almost being ready to start trying to get pregnant (lol!). I would love any advice for someone in my position! What did you wish you thought about before you got pregnant? Is there anything you wish you did to prepare? It’s funny, no one talks about it until they’re actually pregnant, and I am an obsessive planner (can you tell?).

    • Samantha says...

      I’m in exactly the same place. My husband and I just started trying officially a couple of days ago. We went to the book store and found “What to Expect Before You’re Expecting.” I haven’t finished it, but I’m already finding it incredibly helpful.

      Good luck!

    • Katie says...

      We are planners, too, and I don’t think we ever felt 100% ready until we were actually pregnant. And then you’re magically ready :) I say get 90% ready and then round up.

    • Sarah K says...

      I would say, just don’t try to plan things too specifically. You can’t. It’s just not that much in our control. You don’t have to have it all figured out; you’ll never be completely ready; very likely nothing will go exactly as you expect. That’s good preparation for parenting, really; we bring these tiny people into our families who have their own opinions and preferences and their own plans! I wish, both with pregnancy and parenting, I had not spent so much energy on mapping out the future and instead fully enjoyed the present moment. Wishing you and your future family all the best.

    • Annie Green says...

      No plan. Just did it. Who knew if it would work or if we would have to try and try and try. We were lucky and never had any problems getting pregnant. But…you just don’t know. Don’t waste any more time wondering. I know people who have put it off to go travelling, buy that car, finish the house, get the promotion and they didn’t know that they didn’t have the time. There is danger in overthinking anything in life and risk in everything. Good luck.

    • What an exciting time! Totally agree with the others: just go for it. And be present and in the moment with the whole journey. That said, planning can be helpful for one parenting challenge-balancing work and baby. For me, I wanted to stay home with by newborn for a good chunk of time (4 months), so figuring out my state’s paid leave protections, my employer’s policy, PTO, etc. helped give me some peace of mind. Sending good thoughts to you and your husband! Enjoy it all :)

    • Lydia says...

      My husband and I had been married for 5 years before we started trying. I had been on birth control for a long time and always thought I would get pregenant the second I even thought about it. We both ended up feeling incredibly nervous the first month, too much pressure! The day we ended up conceiving was a day I didn’t even think was an ovulation day 4 months later. We found out I was pregnant the week we closed on our house, funny how life works! One thing that helped me was when I heard about someone I knew getting pregnant I took it as a good omen that I could get pregnant too, best of luck to you!

  31. M says...

    I need a post like this so badly! I’m 28 and just coming into a career in medicine, trying to figure out how to become a mother and continue to further my career (I may be going into fellowship for another 3 years) has thrown me into a full on quarter life crisis. Help, please, career and stay at home Moms :)

    • Jessica says...

      I’m a full-time lawyer and momma of one, with another on the way. My best friend is a full-time physician and momma of one, with another on the way (she’s also married to a physician still in his fellowship). Live your life EXACTLY the way you want to. It’s very do-able to have a career in a demanding field while raising amazing babies. It won’t be easy, but thousands of people make it work. Just make sure you have a VERY supportive partner and family/friends surrounding you.

  32. Heidi says...

    This is so, so good. Where was she 12 years ago when I was having my first baby? :)

  33. jen says...

    Im super shallow and loved the article, but Id like to know where you got that nice loose dress.

  34. Lucy C. says...

    Is there an equivalent center in New York? I need one in my life! And I’ll also take an Erica, too :)

    • Christina says...

      Agree! I was also thinking I would love if there was something similar in NYC!

  35. Sarah says...

    I am 20 weeks pregnant with triplets and am very stressed after all of the worlds “best advice” being shoved down my throat by neighbors, coworkers, and family. I just want a sage doula to walk me through this and help me to trust my gut. This helped me calm down today. Thank you.

    • Carly says...

      Not to add to the chorus of advice, but my favorite advice before my first born was born (four years ago this week!) was from my dad: “Write your own advice.” Best of luck to you. You’ve got this!

    • Annie Green says...

      If you are having triplets…I can’t think of anybody qualified to advise you on what to expect! I know that people don’t mean to upset or frighten or annoy but you can feel like public property when you are pregnant. Perhaps if you offered, calmly now, to punch people right in the kisser if they so much as suggested you might want their advice, it might change things. That isn’t advice, by the way. Don’t break my face…

    • Amy says...

      The unsolicited advice nearly put me over the edge with my first….and I actually cut off a long time friendship partially due to this. It’s overwhelming!
      You are so right with the trusting your gut thing! I wish I had figured that out sooner. If babies and circumstances were all exactly the same…maybe advice would be helpful. But they are not!
      Good luck mama…there are going to be some suuuuper cute family pictures in your life!

  36. Thank you for this. Fantastic post. As usual.

  37. Fantastic post. I greatly appreciate the diversity of content you share here, Joanna and the amazing community of supportive and intelligent readers that you have built up. I’ve been an avid reader for a long, long time and you’re posts always inspire me. Reading your blog on a daily basis inspired me to help my own father set up his blog. He was recently diagnosed with cancer and his blog is an entertaining and thoughtful collection of his musings. I am sharing a link to it here in the hope that it may bring comfort to some of your readers. Cancer is such a horrible disease that affects so many of us, if his blog brings comfort to just one person it is worth it: https://how2livewithcancer.blogspot.ie/

    • Chloe says...

      Wow, your dad is so courageous! He writes beautifully, also. I really liked the diversity of his posts. Give him a big hug from this stranger.

    • Thank you so much Chloe, I will pass it on. :)

  38. Christina says...

    I wish Erica had been there for the birth of my two kids! I love her quote, “There is no unnatural birth” and her advice for new moms which I appreciate even now with two teenagers. You got this! Beautifully said. Good luck with the book!

  39. Kim says...

    Erica sounds amazing. She makes me want to move to L.A. when I decide to become a mother. I need coaching like this.

    Her comment about natural birth got me thinking: Have you ever considered doing a series on motherhood and life “balance?” My friend recently asked her Facebook friends how they made decisions about motherhood and careers. She (like me) is about 30 and trying to decide when to have kids, and how to continue with things she is passionate about (career, health, etc.). She said she was looking for perspectives, solidarity, and advice. The result was a beautiful thread with over 100 comments. Some women worked full-time, some stopped working, others changed their work. Some said motherhood changed everything while others said that life kept happening. Women gave advice on intuition, about choosing to be a mother, about working with a partner, and about how they found balance. It was an incredible conversation that really emphasized to me the importance of finding your own life “balance.” There is no right way to be a mother.

    It seems like women have been told since the 60s that we can “have it all.” However, so many women now seem bogged down with exceptions on the type of mother they should be and the career they should have. I’d love it if you interviewed women like you do for the “Motherhood around the world” series but focus on women and careers (highlighting mothers with different lifestyles). I’d love to hear the breadth of their experience, and how they made the decisions they did. I think it would help me as I explore options and make my own life decisions.

    • Charity says...

      I love this idea :)

    • Melissa says...

      Yes I love this idea too! As a working mom sometimes I feel like I’m not doing motherhood or my career especially well. I also wonder a lot about regret… these years when they are young are so fleeting – will I regret not being with them all the time? Would love some perspectives.

    • C says...

      I’d love to read more about this, too. I am only in my late 20s but recently married and trying to figure out next steps for my schooling and career. We are not even sure whether we want children, but it seems that now I can’t even think about career decisions without worrying that I’ll be too old if/when we do decide. Maybe most of all, my parents are not young and it makes me sad to think that they may not be around to know their grandchildren well and vice versa. Of course, I know that there is no “right time,” and I tell myself that I shouldn’t worry so much about the timing with my career because most men probably don’t even think about that at all. But oh man, I’d love to hear how others navigate career, children, and ageing parents.

    • LK says...

      Oprah says we can have it all..but not all at once. Balance!

  40. Nicolle Bekers says...

    WOW!!! The is the BEST advise I have ever heard in supporting ALL mothers. Thank you! We need this.

    • Laurie says...

      I almost wrote EXACTLY the same words! Fantastic, all-inclusive advice!

  41. Mimi says...

    I’m so grateful for this post. Pregnancy, labor, post-partum…it’s amazing and hard and annoying and painful and beautiful and like nothing you can even imagine. Hence, the importance of flexibility and being gracious with yourself.

    My delivery was rather traumatic. I didn’t realize it at the time – I was just SO grateful for the team of doctors, nurses, midwives and bad-ass anesthesiologist! My caregivers were aware of the trauma I faced and kept careful watch over me as the days and weeks passed, God bless them!

    I left the hospital after 6 days – with post-partum pre-eclampsia, post-partum depression and a gorgeous baby boy. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever been through. Four years later and I could still cry just thinking about it. But I would absolutely do it again. My heart grew a thousand times bigger the moment I laid eyes on my baby boy.

    One thing though…My labor was NEVER free of pain though. Everyone says you have breaks. I did not. Not even with meds. After 19 hours of labor and 2 hours of pushing and every kind of intervention imaginable, my “natural” birth ended with a C-section. I consider myself having a “full” birth experience and I love that someone else gives credit to it being “natural.” There is far too much judgement towards mothers, even from men.
    Every mother is incredible, however you get there. Thank you for that.

    • Jenny L says...

      Beyond the first hour, I did not have a pain free moment either! I was surprised by that because I’d been taught in my birthing classes that I’d have breaks. Nope!!?

  42. Mia says...

    “It’s not Westworld.” Yassssssss. :)

  43. Cazmina says...

    Such a lovely post :)
    I’ve never understood the snobbishness about “natural” births. If that’s what works for you, great! But if not, also great! I always think of the women giving birth hundreds of years ago and how thankful they would have been to have had the option of pain medication and life-saving c-sections.

    • Sarah K says...

      Exactly! For most of human history, “natural” birth meant “dangerous and often deadly”.

  44. belinda king says...

    this was lovely to read, would have liked more on baby sleeping routines etc as I currently feel like a bit of a failure getting my third baby to settle etc..
    so affectionately written, thanks Erica

  45. Fernanda Abreu says...

    I expecting my first child and it´s such a beautiful e yet really hard time. Everyone just tell that I should be radiant and happy, but no one want seems to realize how difficult and different everything is, seems and fells. I just loved this post and bring me to tears (I´m not normally emotional). Thank you so much for this post. This blog is my happy place in internet and all the readers are just so amazing. Thank you thank you thank you. (Ps; my first language is portuguese. So I´m sorry for the many mistakes).

  46. Nora says...

    As a second time mom who’s three weeks post partum this really resonated with me. After a scary and complicated first pregnancy and a NICU stay for my first son I was terrified to do it again. My second pregnancy went off almost without a hitch, even though I had to deliver at 37 weeks due to climbing blood pressure my son came into the world a healthy 7lb 9oz. Now I’ve had the beautiful experience of both a csection and a vbac.
    Motherhood can sometimes feel like a competition with some moms saying “I don’t want to be induced,” “I’d be heartbroken if I have a csection, have to formula feed, etc.” As moms we are all trying our best and have the ultimate goal of a healthy happy child. We need to stop presenting our way as the best/only way to do it. As my wonderful doctor told me there’s no perfect way to be born.

  47. Rani says...

    wonderful, tear inducing post. “all birth is natural” will now be my new mantra. what a game changer!

  48. Reb says...

    Wow – what beautiful advice! I’m long past having babies (my youngest is almost 9!) but I still found all this info beautiful and touching.

  49. JK says...

    “Your baby will be just fine…” Truer words were never spoken. Except in rare cases, yes, your baby will be just fine.
    That’s the best advice for the anxious new parent.

  50. RBC says...

    Great advice! Couldn’t agree more re:”natural” birth. Half the time people ask me that (which they have no business asking in the first place in my opinion) I don’t know if they mean unmedicated or vaginal. Also, not exactly related, but why do SO MANY people feel like it’s ok and normal to comment on your body when you’re pregnant and when you have a new baby? I know people intend it as a complement, but it’s still so uncomfortable. (Full disclosure: had my fourth 2 months ago….so I’ve had LOTS of time in my life for such comments….so sick of them!)

  51. Heather says...

    This post brought me to happy tears and made me think of my Mom with so much love. I’ve got a medical condition that makes pregnancy extra scary and complicated, and I’ve been thinking about what her experience would have been like when she was expecting me and my brother. As my partner and I think about our future together I’ve also been grappling with how to approach building a family in the safest and most loving way possible. Thank you Erica for emphasizing the importance of following your gut and having faith in your unique journey of pregnancy, birth and motherhood. I LOVED reading “All birth is natural.” Sending lots hugs and warm wishes to Erica and the COJ Team. <3

  52. Angela says...

    I was just doing some research on getting my newborn to flip his days and nights and came across a website in which the author said, “If it’s not a problem for you, it’s a not problem.” which I find to be superb advice and one I plan to apply liberally. For instance, getting very little sleep/broken sleep IS a problem for me, mentally and physically, so gently training my babies to sleep well is a priority. On the other hand, a friend of mine runs perfectly well off little sleep. She doesn’t need or want advice on her babies sleeping because, for her, it is not a problem. It’s not a problem, so it doesn’t need to be fixed.

    Mother’s and babies and situations are all different and it can be tricky to assume we all struggle and/or need help with the same things.

  53. Jen says...

    Wish she was part of my care team! Wow, amazing woman. So mug kindness and empathy.

    Did anyone else have a ton of anxiety during pregnancy and postpartum simply due to the reality of transitioning from a child-free, independent person to a permanent mother? I still have a hard time with the reality of it all and the everyday demands even though it’s been nearly two years. There’s so much shame with this. But I believe that others might have the same experience (?)

    • Rani says...

      yes, i sure did. i’m the youngest in my family so i never witnessed my parents caring for a younger child. I also had my first child at 36, so I had many years as a relatively carefree adult. the transition was difficult for me and caused some pain and sadness- party because i wanted a baby for so long and when i finally had one, it just felt so difficult!

    • Meli says...

      Jen, thanks for voicing this. I’m 35, recently married and ready to start trying but also very anxious about the change of lifestyle. I have no doubt that having a child will bring so many new and exciting and heartfilling moments. But I also love the current state of life, including sleeping in! I’m also fortunate to get to travel the world with my job and that will not be feasible (at least not the same way, and not without great burden on my partner). So it feels like a gamble – give up something I love so much for something everyone talks about publicly as ‘The Best’ but privately with more candor about the trials and tribulations. Eek!

    • Em says...

      Oh yes. Lots of anxiety, guilt, struggles. The worst days are when I have thoughts that I regret becoming a mother. In the grand scheme I absolutely do not regret it, but those thoughts slip in at times and I hate it.

    • Amy says...

      Yes! After 7 years of infertility, I’m finally pregnant. I just hit 10 weeks, and after several rounds of IVF and IUI, this baby is SO wanted. But at the same time, I can’t help but think to myself “what the hell have I done?!”

    • Claudia says...

      I also felt this. I don’t know if it had to do with being just me and my husband for about 7 years or leaving work, but the first year was really hard just because I felt I could not ve that independent person I usted to be. Going back to work part time helped a lot.

  54. Audrey says...

    Such a beautiful post!

  55. Kate says...

    I love Erica and her new spot, LOOM is beautiful — a really lovely place to be with other mamas. I did want to note that I had a lactation consultant come to my home after my second daughter was born. I thought everything would be easy and that there would be no problems at all nursing. I was pro, right? I had done it before. But, then I got mastitis and realized that I needed some help. And, I learned from the consultant that came to my home that some insurance polices cover a visit! So, it is worth looking into for new or expectant mamas. Just putting it out there as I had no idea!

  56. Suz says...

    Thanks from a midwife for this fantastic interview! The Westworld bit- perfection.

  57. Irene says...

    Pre-booking a lactation consultant for a week after birth – YES! Even if you have no questions at all (I had about 4,396 questions about breastfeeding one week after giving birth and managed to get a consultant to stop by on short notice), you’ll have someone to look in on you, see how you’re feeling/managing, someone to exchange a few adult words with who will congratulate you for doing awesome NO MATTER WHAT :)

  58. Haylie says...

    I’m never planning to have kids and I still felt buoyed by this, ha! What a special and nurturing person.

  59. This is for Joanna,
    are you still have mixed feelings for a third one?
    i feel so, may be i am wrong ?
    in any case , i just want to tell you i love your blog since years sincere and very interesting.
    Hello from France and all the best
    Sophie

  60. Monica says...

    All the advice here is spot on. Thank you, Erica!

  61. Oneida says...

    Thank you for not just your expertise and experience BUT the way you communicated it in such a kind way. I had such incredible care from our midwives. I had some pretty deep postpartum depression and very difficult and painful breastfeeding. We went to an appointment where the midwife gently suggested that I stop breastfeeding. “There is more to being a mother than breast milk,” she said. “Your baby needs more nourishment than nutrients. She needs her mom to be healthy and she needs your love.” I cried. She was SO right. I love that the midwife saw not just all of my needs but all of my baby’s needs too. Also, it was so powerful for the midwife, the one with all the “natural” training, to give me the permission that I couldn’t give myself.

  62. Cara says...

    This was great. What a beautiful smile she has too! I love “there is no unnatural birth” — important message! I get the question “are your twins natural?” sometimes and it chafes a little.

    • Mandy says...

      YES. And even Jay-Z seems to feel that this is an important distinction. Or a distinction at all.

    • Sarah K says...

      Yes. Why do people think these things are there business? We have one child who joined our family through adoption, and strangers feel bizarrely free to ask all sorts of questions about her. “Where is she from?” Um, here. “Are they all yours?” Yes. End of story.

  63. Alice says...

    This is so superbly spot on.
    Each paragraph resonated to the bone and had me nodding and agreeing and remembering my pregnancies, my births, or my mothers, or sisters, or friends. There are so many different possible equations and experiences of pregnancy and birth and motherhood, and Erica assures and welcomes everyone with words equivalent to a welcoming hug followed by a super fly high five. This is what it should always be, with love and without judgement.
    I’ll send all new mothers and mothers-to-be straight here from now on. Thank you so much Erica, and COJ x

  64. Kristen says...

    “No two mothers are going to move through this journey the same way, and that’s a good thing, because your baby needs that special magic only you can bring.” Aaahhh SO good!

  65. Talia says...

    I loved every word of the beautifully written post!

  66. Lucy in England says...

    Oh and also, please don’t forget post natal anxiety. It’s not just depression that impacts new mums. As someone who has experIenved it twice over, watch your anxiety levels and talk to someone if those horrible invasive fears start coming at you.

  67. Emmie says...

    This is the only advice you need:

    1. Hire a linebacker to apply super hard pressure on your outer hips during each contraction.

    • Carly says...

      LOL

  68. Lucy in England says...

    Love this. My top advice is

    1) Don’t take any advice. Everyone and their dog will give you advice. Smile sweetly, consider any new ideas, then do what YOU feel is right. Perfect that smile while you are thinking rude thoughts!

    2) it is just luck. Sickness and nausea in pregnancy? a good birth experience? Breastfeeding come easily? A baby that sleeps? A not too stroppy toddler? Just the luck of the draw. Don’t let anyone try to tell you it’s virtue.

    • N says...

      Yes to this!! Some women just want to pat themselves on the back and give themselves all the credit. It does boil down to luck, I’ve learned this after a difficult first pregnancy and a close family memeber losing perfectly healthy child to stillbirth.

    • Ingrid says...

      Lucy, I totally agree with both your points!

    • So much yes to point number 2! I have three kids and had three totally different pregnancies, babies, kids (my births were all c-sections, but even they were different). I thought my first never threw tantrums because I was a good mom…my second blew that theory out of the water. I thought my second was a terrible sleeper because I didn’t establish a good bedtime routine…my third sleeps straight through the night without any routine at all at three months old (and has for a while)! It’s important to acknowledge that we don’t actually have that much control. Bad parenting obviously has consequences, but good parenting doesn’t make perfect children. Humans are complicated!

  69. Jenny says...

    This is such kind, wise advice. I love the idea of “cultivating your parenting muscle”. My almost two-year-old is going through a very difficult aggressive phase right now, and it’s making me question every single parenting decision I make, big or small. It’s exhausting and leaves me feeling dejected (and with #2 on the way, all of these emotions are exponentially heightened, unfortunately!). It’s much nicer to frame this stressful phase as an opportunity to grow my parenting skills. Thanks for the lovely post.

  70. S says...

    This post is timely! I’m due any day with my third. And so far I’ve had a wide variety of experiences. A beautiful homebirth with my first, an epidural hospital birth after a super long and painful labor with my second. Tongue tie that made breastfeeding toe-curlingly painful (it took me six months to get it taken care of), and one perfectly easy breastfeeding relationship. I’ve learned that nothing is 100% guaranteed to work out any way that you think it will or should. And as a mother you will know what is best. Trust your gut. Listen to yourself. What is right today might not be right tomorrow, or what’s right for this baby might not be right for the next one. And most importantly what is right for somebody else might not be right for YOU.

  71. Jessica says...

    From an adoptive mother: this post was wonderfully inclusive. Thank you!

  72. Rebecca says...

    All such wonderful advice!!! I had an epidural because I had to be induced and my son was struggling a bit. The doctor said if I ended up needing an emergency c-section to keep him safe, they would have to knock me out if I didn’t have an epidural already in place. I was leaning that way anyway (I’ve never been great with pain!), but honestly it made my birth experience lovely! I was in very little pain the whole time (and I’m a smaller person and pushed out a 9 lb 11 oz baby)!!! I had been told soooooo many horror stories when I was pregnant and my Labor and delivery turned out really well with the epidural! I think all of the motherhood comparisons are so hard on everyone! I love her attitude that what’s best for you and your baby is best for you and your baby. Couldn’t agree more!

    • Laura says...

      Yes same here! I was induced and had an epidural and it ended up being such a wonderful, positive experience. I was in very little pain and was able to really participate in and talk about everything that was going on with the doctors and nurses, who were wonderful and funny and down to earth. I never expected it but we had such a good time and then there was our beautiful daughter at the end of it. After years of infertility and a terrible pregnancy where I was sick and in discomfort pretty much non-stop for nine months it was such a relief to have a positive and safe delivery.
      On the flip side a good friend who planned an epidural but didn’t get one because it went too fast and the anaesthetist didn’t get there in time said she ended up appreciating being able to feel everything, even though it was incredibly painful and was happy she’d experienced it (though luckily it was very fast).
      So yes, do what’s right for you and your baby! No shame!

  73. Sarah says...

    I’m going to the hospital to be induced tonight! I’ve been following this blog for years. This sweet article came at the perfect time! Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you!!!

    • Hillary F. says...

      Congrats!

  74. Elle says...

    I’m so so grateful for this immensely sane and beautiful advice. I had a “natural” birth without pain meds and was deeply traumatized by the experience (and resulting complications). There is no right or wrong way to give birth, and yet, especially as a first time mom, it is so hard to tune out the noise of judgment masquerading as wisdom. Thank you thank you for this beautiful reminder!

    • Emmie says...

      Nice to hear. I “gave up” at hour 12 and got some meds and still feel like a failure … I want to try med free again the next time.

  75. Kerri says...

    I always like to tell new moms, “Plan to change the plan”. You literally never know how birth and motherhood will go from one moment to the next and if your plan is always evolving then it’s a lot easier to cope.

    For example: first birth was an emergency c-section, third was 15 minutes from first contraction to holding my baby. Whoa. Haha

  76. Ramona says...

    The part about depression is so true, and so important. Any first time pregnant moms out there–LISTEN to that! I am pregnant with my second and told my midwife that in hindsight I am pretty sure I had depression after my daughter was born, but that I didn’t tell anyone at the time. She said, “Oh, you should say something because there are all kinds of things we can try to help you!” I nearly burst into tears right there in her office. I could have made things so much easier on myself if only I’d said something.

  77. Katy says...

    I am 30 weeks pregnant with my first and I loved reading this! Pregnancy for me has been full of ups and downs and not just a rosy, easy time, so I appreciate the more honest picture her advice paints. Right now I am working on hiring a doula for my delivery and I hope I find someone as wise as Erica. It is comforting to think of having an experienced, supportive person there to help with challenges of labor. It makes so much sense to me that physical and psychological support matters!

  78. Tiffany says...

    I love that mental health is addressed in this. I am a LPC who has a specialization in perinatal mood disorders. If I could, I would have every single pregnant woman start therapy while pregnant. Perinatal mood disorders are the most common complication of pregnancy. Being able to process various stresses, concerns, fears, family dynamics before the baby is born can be incredibly helpful in reducing your risk factors. Also, being educated through therapy about what signs to look for and already having a connected relationship built with a therapist makes it so much easier to ask for help when you need it.

  79. “THERE IS NO UNNATURAL BIRTH.” Preach. After 24 hours of unmedicated labor, I ended up having an epidural and then a c-section. Many tears were shed, and afterward, even though I was so thankful for excellent care and most of all for a healthy baby, there was nothing that triggered me more than other women talking (or posting on social media) about their natural births. Even though it’s been almost 2 years, a little while ago a friend and I were talking about births and she said, “2 kids, all natural!” and pumped her fist in the air. I wanted to punch her. (Even though she has every right to feel proud/thankful for her experience!) There’s things we can do to give ourselves the best odds, but so much of it is genes and the luck of the draw.

    • Cara says...

      You’re a total warrior doing 24 hours unmedicated — wow!

    • Isabella says...

      Yes to this! The judgement around pain management for labor, in our society, among women, among other mothers, so SO intense, and so strange, and so counter to what *should* exist among mothers: a culture of nurturing and empathy and pride and support. Of course every birth is “natural,” and there is no moral high ground to be scored in having one type of birth over another. To all the mothers, new and seasoned, and expectant mothers, and future mothers-to-be out there: you are so, so strong, so fierce and incredible, and no matter what horse caca society tries to sling at you, that strength will be something you’ll be able to draw upon for the rest of your life, to create a zone of safety and normalcy for your loved ones in times of duress, to give you a reason to stand tall and proud and sure for all days.

    • ME TOO, JOY! 24 hours of unmedicated labor at home, one hour unmedicated at the hospital, then nine hours with Pitocin and an epidural (to try and get that last centimeter of dilation so he would drop down…) before heading to the OR for an emergency c-section at hour 35.

      I felt so defeated that all of my pain and hard work resulted in a c-section, and shed many tears my first six months postpartum, over how my birth story played out. Social media, and honestly any birth stories of “natural” births used to make me feel so inadequate, like I just wasn’t good enough at birth to make it go the way I’d planned. My surgeon told me that our son was literally stuck in my birth canal, due to the way his head/neck dropped in, and that no amount of pushing or laboring would have changed that fact. I spent months reviewing the trauma of that experience over-and-over-and-over in my head, and am in such a better place with our family’s story now.

      Fast forward life, and now our son is an amazing, happy, healthy, friendly, hilarious 14mo, and I realize I did better than “good enough” giving birth, because I did what was best for him.

      You are amazing, and you did what you needed to do for your child to be as healthy and safe as possible. Congratulations on being an incredible mother to your child. Sincerely, LK

    • Emma says...

      Feeling you. I had to have a c-section and I was so shocked by how many people told me all the ways I could have prevented it! Not getting an epidural, a chiropractic realignment, etc. I think for the most part women don’t want to be sliced open and then deal with recovering from surgery while taking care of a newborn (the only post surgery where you absolutely cannot recover the way your body needs to because newborns=sleep deprivation). Any ways enough complaining! I like to tell new parents, “You are doing such a good job! You are just what your baby needs!” Along with, “You do you!”
      That last paragraph made me tear up!

    • Carrie says...

      Yes! When everything goes easy, some people tend to think it’s just because they had the right amount of willpower or something, not luck of the draw. I struggle with the stories of unmedicated births too, even though logically, I know I would also be celebrating. Sometimes I make myself feel better by reminding myself that I did 36 hours unmedicated with a posterior baby (+12 more hours medicated) which is actually often a longer amount of time to deal with contractions than many who went unmedicated. Sometimes people forget that women with medicated labours also usually have had hours upon hours of painful contractions as well. ALL labours require an incredible amount of strength.

  80. Cynthia says...

    Excellent advice! The worst thing during my first pregnancy 35 years ago, was hearing all the labor and delivery scare stories. I wanted to stay pregnant forever! However, everything was great. I did have an unmedicated delivery by choice, and everything was fine. Do what works best for you.

  81. Lacey says...

    I was a mom that was consumed by guilt over an inability to successfully breastfeed my daughter. I felt so much shame over it – it drove me into a darkness I never want to revisit – mostly because my prenatal yoga teachers, my midwife, my breastfeeding 101 class teachers, and my lactation consultants all said “don’t worry, it gets better” and when it didn’t for me, I just felt like such a failure.

    So, I opened this post expecting to feel triggered based on my experience but was so pleasantly surprised and thankful for such a balanced, inclusive post. I cringe to think of my narrow-mindedness, the superiority I felt as I planned my “natural birth” and “breast is best” feeding strategies prior to REAL LIFE happening. :) In some ways, I am grateful for my breastfeeding experience now – it was humbling in such a good way. I feel such empathy now for the journeys all new moms embark upon -less shame, more compassion and understanding! :)

    Thank you.

    • Kait says...

      Yes! I was unable to make enough supply to fully nourish my daughter. I bought every supplement and lactation product on the market, had a lactation consultant, rented a hospital grade pump, power pumped every hour, drank Guinness while I nursed..it was ridiculous and exhausting and a very very dark time. I was in denial for a long time until the pediatrician officially said my daughter was failing to thrive and that my pride should not stand in the way of supplementing with formula. I felt waves of failure and shame. First, for not physically being able to make enough milk despite my efforts, second for letting some idea of breast is best perfection stand in the way of being the best mom I could be. I was so guilty of being some perfect mom handbook thumper.

      Of course, my first trip to the formula aisle was met with some horrible woman telling me “Breast is best, you know that stuff is full of chemicals!” and I completely broke down right there in the grocery store. Women can be so hard on each other. The tone of this piece is so refreshing. Do what’s best for your individual child, body, and family.

      I, too am ultimately thankful for this experience because it humbled me in a way I could have never anticipated. I continue to be humbled by this sweet girl of mine, and that first horrible mountain we climbed together prepared me for the challenges that lay ahead.

  82. Mirte says...

    “THERE IS NO UNNATURAL BIRTH. It’s not Westworld. It’s all natural.” Love this, thank you!

    • Allison says...

      That’s exactly what I was going to quote! Love it!

  83. Karli says...

    I love all of this!! I can’t wait to read her book.

    I got some of the best advice about labor from a doula/prenatal massage therapist about a week before my son was born. She said “There is a difference between pain and suffering. If while in labor you’re in pain but feel like you are coping, that’s great, keep it up! However, if you cross over to the point of suffering, don’t hesitate to take advantage of the various pain management medications and strategies that are available to you. There is NO reason you should suffer in labor. Pain – yes, suffering – NO.” I felt so empowered and far less anxious going into labor having already made this distinction in my mind.

    • S says...

      YES to this. I’ve described labor pain as painful, but not bad or wrong. Pain can be good. That pain is bringing your baby!

    • anon says...

      I’ve never heard it described this way, but that’s such a good way to put it!! I’ll remember that.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that is such great advice, karli!

  84. I love this and would also second some of the other requests for a ‘getting pregnant’ post. I recently lost my first pregnancy at 20 weeks and heartbreaking doesn’t even come close to describing it. We had told everyone, begun to plan with earnest, and were completely invested in the next chapter we were about to begin. The sudden loss has been traumatizing and disorienting – it was months ago and i’m only just now able to say the word ‘miscarriage’
    I want to be a mother so badly but the thought of trying again and going through the whole process is terrifying at this point. I would love to hear from some other women who have gone through and come out the other side of the often grueling process of starting a family.

    • Cooper says...

      Me, too, to all of this. I think there’s a particular kind of pain when it’s your first – you’ve become a mother but have no baby to show for it, so the world is slow to acknowledge. I recently found a tiny bit of solace in a Huffington Post article “50 Celebrities Who Opened Up About Their Miscarriage” – to see even powerful women like Beyonce describe miscarriage as “the saddest thing I ever went through” made me feel a little less alone!

    • Lucy in England says...

      Hi Maggie,

      So sorry to hear of your loss. You may find the blog “Feathering the Empty Nest” helpful. The author writes beautifully about grief and conception after losing her son.

      Love to you.

    • I am so sorry, Maggie. I am so sorry.

    • cj says...

      I am so sorry Maggie. Hugs to you. Mi first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage too. It was a devastatingly painful period for me. It took me several months before I got to the point of trying again even though I wanted to be a mother so badly. I now have a 3 year old but I still vividly remember the sadness that I felt. You are not alone. Hugs and best wishes to you. I am so sorry.

  85. ADO says...

    This may be the best list I’ve seen yet!

  86. amen to all of this. Kind of like saying I love you to yourself whenever I’m soothing my toddler or baby, or both of them at once, I soothe myself too – which might go something like “it’s okay Cecelia, it’s okay Evie, it’s okay momma, we’ll be okay” somehow that helps me get through the crazy moments – I’m pretty sure everyone looked at me like I was crazy during a mid aisle meltdown in rite aid, but I needed the self encrouragement!

    • Love this.

    • You are a genius. I’m going to try to remember to do this during my next stressful parenting moment. I’ll be you are also subliminally teaching your children how to speak kindly to themselves in the process. Seriously, genius.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      love. xoxo

    • Lisa says...

      Wow. I love that. Mothering yourself too. So wise. I’m going to remember that.

  87. AJ says...

    This is hands down the best, most balanced and helpful thing I have ever read about pregnancy and birth! So compassionate, level headed and unbiased (apart from the bias of being somebody who clearly cares a lot about people!)

  88. Cambria says...

    Yes, yes, and YES. This was wonderful. Her advice on feeding the baby and ridding ourselves of the term “natural birth” is spot-on. So much wisdom and compassion here. Also, realizing there’s not one perfect way to give birth and be a mother reminds me of Amy Poehler’s “Good for her! Not for me” mantra. Say it, mean it, repeat it!

  89. Needed this! I live in Los Angeles and just reached the 12 week mark!

  90. Alissa says...

    I immediately remembered Erica from your post a couple years ago on her beauty routine. I still use the Jaw Clenching Remedy essential oil blend that she recommended, and try to pretend I’m nearly as cool as her every time I put it on.

  91. addie says...

    This is one of the best things I have ever read about birth. I am blessed to have three boys to call me mom and Erica’s piece is spot on to everything. you don’t have to “grin and bear it” and what works best for you is best! Nothing else, nothing more. Thank you for sharing this.

  92. Dee says...

    I think one other thing every new Mom needs is one understanding, experienced Mom friend who will let her vent about ‘how overwhelming her new life is and the fact that she misses her old life’ without judgment.

  93. Genevieve says...

    This list is so wonderful. :)

  94. Emily R. says...

    This was exactly what I wanted to read today, as I am almost at the end of my 1st trimester and am once again faced with the emotional challenges of growing and birthing a child. I may have done it once, but there is no guarantee how things are going to be this 2nd time, and it can be hard not to be anxious.
    I love her voice, how she speaks to new and expectant mothers. Thank you so much for sharing this. I definitely plan to check out her book.

  95. Lisa says...

    I longed for my first pregnancy; I’d been sick and then pregnancy just took a while to take achieve. but I was full of expectations for the next 9 months and motherhood in general. I expected pregnancy to be rainbows and unicorns; instead, I mostly felt curiously detached and fearful. Watching my friends mother with such intensity filled me with the fear that I could not possibly give that much to another person. My doula was an amazing friend, guiding me through one pregnancy and then another.

    The best advice I could give would be to check your expectations at the door. Motherhood is a journey!

  96. Jaclyn says...

    Yep – let’s all work together to stop calling a certain type of birth “Natural.” You grew and birthed a tiny human – how much more natural does itget?!

  97. Eve says...

    I’m due with my first very soon and really hope that breastfeeding comes to us easily. I intend to use lactation consultants if not, for sure. I also want back-up formula on hand because like you said, the most important thing is that the baby eats. I’d be happy to take formula recommendations! From what I’ve gathered, they are mostly all “safe” now due to regulations but babies show real preferences.

    • E says...

      My daughter takes the milk-based Whole Foods brand (365), but she’s also had Enfamil and CVS brand, no preferences. She was exclusively breast-fed for five months, then weaned herself abruptly. It was hard, but now I have such peace with formula. My lactation consultant told me all formula is essentially the same, it’s just marketing.

    • Em says...

      We switched to formula at 6 months, and we loved the Aldi brand…it’s half the cost of brand names and our son didn’t notice a difference. Some babies do, I’m sure, but we were lucky to save some money on that. Good luck!

    • Caroline says...

      Sign up with one of the formula companies. They’ll send samples and coupons. That way you have it if you need it, if not, give it away to someone who does.

    • Lacey says...

      I was CRUSHED when breastfeeding didn’t work out for us. 3 bouts of mastitis, low weight gain, and a supply that just never really picked up. I had to supplement early on and in my rage over having to use formula I picked the most expensive I could personally afford because I was convinced all American-made formula was evil- I used a German formula called Hipp. I eventually got over my pride of having to formula feed in the first place and settled on Target’s off brand version of Enfamil. She did great on both with no issues! Maybe if we weren’t broke at the time I would’ve continued with Hipp but only because we never had problems with it- I just couldn’t justify the continued cost. I’ve also heard good things about Kirkland’s formula if you have a Costco membership. A lot of “crunchy” type mom websites also recommend the brand Baby’s Only. I tried a free sample (you can request one on their website) of their Whey-based formula and found that it didn’t mix well for me. More recently, another friend used Baby’s Only Dairy and didn’t have the mixing problems I did with the Whey version.

      Hope that helps! Fed is best! :)

    • Annelies says...

      One thing I learned with my baby is that the formula itself isn’t as important as the water you’re preparing it with. My baby started getting formula at night when he was 7.5 months old because he had become quite a big drinker and my breast milk wasn’t enough to fill him up for the night anymore. For the first two weeks he had terrible cramps, like he had had as a newborn as well. Then my midwife suggested using a different brand of water (Evian, I live in Belgium so I’m not sure whether you can get it in the US as well). Apparently it contains less (or more, I forgot which one it was) of a certain mineral, which makes it better suited for babies with a tendency to get cramps. The result was incredible!
      I’ve always just drunk tap water but when it comes to my baby I’ve become quite the water snob :)

      Also a small tip for breastfeeding that’s really helped me: it’s wonderful and all but it’s true that the first few weeks are difficult. As a mom you tend to forget about all the trouble once those weeks are over and everything works out, and that makes perfect sense since it is a magical feeling. But because we often focus on all the positive feelings and ‘natural’ aspect of breastfeeding, women only hear the romanticized side and they feel terrible when it doesn’t work out straight away or it hurts. For me it was a huge help that my sister – who is a midwife – was very honest about the pain and the hard work as well. It made me feel less like I was failing and less alone. Yes, breastfeeding is natural but it’s also something that you need to learn, both you and your baby. So hopefully this will take some of the pressure off for you. Good luck!

    • So, here’s what our doctor told us: there are three basic types of formula. The first level is a standard formula- it is made with cow-based proteins. The second is for lactose babies. The third is a cow-based protein, but the proteins are more broken down. This is so it is easier to digest, because some baby’s digestive systems are not as developed and it can be hard for them to break down the proteins.

      There are other things, like some formulas may be organic, have probiotics or be non-GMO etc. etc. And these things may or may not be important to you, but all three types of forumla can be organic or Non-GMO etc. Likely, you will want to start with the basic type of formula, as it tends to be the cheapest, and change to the others if you child is having issues.

      Our son drinks Similac Gentle Pro (has the broken down cow proteins) because he experienced a lot of digestive issues when we breastfed and when we tried the other kinds of formulas.

  98. Anna says...

    This brought her tear to my eye, her advice is so and wise and sensible. Thanks so much! I’ll definitely remember this if we’re lucky enough to have a second baby (secondary infertility, so tough)

    • Rebecca says...

      I’m so sorry, Anna. I’m in the dreaded “secondary infertility” boat with you and it is so tough. I’m hoping for light at the end of our tunnels, be it a second angel or peace in our hearts with our only. Hang in there!

    • Lisa says...

      Secondary infertility too here. Because you have one, people just naturally ask you when the next one is coming, and I’m like, “I’m open! It hasn’t happened yet, but I’d love a second one.” That usually stops the inquiries. But yeah, I’m right there with you ladies.

    • karla says...

      Yes to all of this! The “when’s the next one coming” question is so hard!

  99. LS says...

    This is a great post – seriously no hard feelings – but I’m wondering if you might do one soon specifically for women struggling to get pregnant. I feel like pregnancy/maternity/motherhood/parenting content is chasing me around these last few weeks, and it’s like salt in a very ugly wound.

    • Ally says...

      Agreed. Pandora has been playing a lot of infertility and egg freezing commercials this week. It’s been rough.

    • Carolyn M says...

      Ditto. We are carriers of a rare fatal genetic disease and it has been a brutal journey. I shed tears almost every day and we have been going through this for years. I have been pregnant four times and three of them have been affected by the disease – which means zero chance at life. But we do have one absolute miracle baby at home, who is now 2. When you’re in the thick of trying to get pregnant, or getting over the loss of a pregnancy, or whatever it is, it can be so triggering to read happy posts about pregnancy and birth.

    • M says...

      Yes to this! We are going through IVF and it’s been the most difficult and isolating experience we’ve ever had. Most people don’t even know we’re doing it so we’re carrying on normally on the outside but have a whole different self when we’re at home. It’s emotionally exhausting to say the least.

    • Sophia says...

      100% agree.

  100. Jenn says...

    LOVED LOVED LOVED this post. What an amazing woman. Her thoughts on “natural birth” are inspiring. My first baby just turned 2 months yesterday and… wow. What a humbling whirlwind these past 2 months have been. Loved her perspective on this wild journey.

  101. MG says...

    I always tell pregnant women to wear their compression hose!! Not the most glamorous advice but so worth it in the end…. reduces spider veins and varicose veins, keeps the swollen ankles away, and helps prevent dangerous blood clots.

  102. This was so helpful and reassuring. I’m bookmarking the book as it sounds like such a great resource and Erica’s tone seems so helpful. Thank you Joanna and Erica.

  103. Jenna says...

    Just wondering if you have a Google alert calender on my life because every thing you post is exactly aligned with where I am at in life and what I need to hear! Or maybe you are just running the world’s best and most relatable blog? :)

    • Liz says...

      Same here! I’m almost 5 months pregnant (halfway, oh my) and this was exactly what I needed to hear today. What a humbling experience this has been and will continue to be. Cheers to you and to all longing for, expecting or parenting sweet babies.

    • Elizabeth says...

      Right?!? I’m having a hard couple of days after weening my 10 month old and remembering Jo’s post on weening blues from a while ago. And then I open this lovely post with its beautiful warmth and not a hint of judgement. I’m also a yoga teacher and had two unwanted c-sections and students and teachers ask me all the time if yoga helped with my “natural” births. I want to punch them, but then I smile and talk about non-attachment. ?

  104. Kate says...

    Wow! Erica is fantastic and as a mother of three who judges herself this made me sit back and think…every thing I’ve done was right for me, us, our family! Thank you!

  105. Sara says...

    I wish I had this advice before giving birth to my children…thank you for your acceptance and openness! Beautiful.

  106. e.claire says...

    I went to 42 weeks, and after 36 hours in labor, both mine and my son’s heart rate were dropping, so super fast c-section it was! I had expected only a short stay at the birth center, but we ended up staying at “Hotel Hospital” for 5 days. My husband brought my bedside lamp from home ( over 17 years old, and shaped like the Eiffel Tower). I never would have thought of that, but it created such a soft glow in the room. It was great to not have the harsh over head lighting.

  107. EmilyR says...

    Such great words of wisdom! My babies are almost adults now, but I still wish I’d understood that postpartum depression is not always obvious, even to you, the new mom. Weeks after giving birth, I finally mentioned my feelings to my mom, who for the first time shared she’d suffered from it terribly after my birth. We spoke on a Saturday, and I planned to call my doctor Monday morning but awakened feeling back to normal. The body’s changes during pregnancy and birth are so enormous, and I love reading words of encouragement and self-nuturing to all moms. Thank you!

  108. Ashley Dierickx says...

    Wow. This gentle advice almost brought me to tears and I’m not even pregnant!

    • Same!!

  109. Carrie says...

    I’m not a mom yet, but this post is so full of wisdom and encouragement! I’d love to hear what she has to say about all life topics! I’m totally saving this for my “some day”.

    • Meredith Leigh says...

      Just echoing Tori! Weeks 8-12 I was pretty much a zombie; I managed to shower and go to work and that was about it. I’m 18 weeks now and feel like a completely different person. I was expecting the rest of the 9 months to be that way and wondering how I would cope, but I hit 14 weeks and suddenly went back to normal.

  110. Lindsay E says...

    I’m in my 10th week of my first pregnancy. This advice is well-received! Especially the reminder to love myself. I’ve been feeling pretty BLAH lately, despite being thrilled to be pregnant, due to the hormones. That particular piece of advice hit home and brought tears to my eyes. What a lovely reminder. Thank you for this!

    • Barbara says...

      OMG ME TOO. I just hit 10 weeks also and I’m struggling a little bit. The low energy level is killing me…I feel like I should be able to still do 10 things at once and go for 10 mile runs because I’m not showing yet, but I just CAN’T. It’s nice to have a reminder of why we should be “taking it easy”.

    • It gets better! I just hit 13 weeks and it’s night and day from where I was a few weeks ago. I kept repeating Wilson Phillips’ song “Hold on for one more day” in my head when the days were rough. Much love to you ladies!!

    • Sarah says...

      You are doing so much already!! You are making a SPINAL CORD inside of your body for goodness sake! Rest and be proud! :)

  111. Maggie says...

    This is great! I would add that you should be prepared for your birth not to go as planned. I have friends who were committed to having a natural birth and were disappointed to end up needing interventions. I planned to have, and had, an epidural with my first and my second came so fast there was no time for one, and I was terrified and pretty unprepared to do it unmedicated! Luckily, I had listened to exactly one, one-hour hypnobirthing lesson – I definitely wore out the two breathing techniques and three mantras I learned!!

  112. Savannah says...

    Someone (was it on here?) compared childbirth to a tooth extraction- no one faults you if you have pain control for that or says “oh you’re not going natural?” in a judgmental tone!

    I just keep repeating to myself that by 5 no ones will be able to tell that my kid was a csection or if she walked “late.” Kids turn out great raised all sorts of different ways.

  113. Sara says...

    This is the kindest, most comforting & sensible advice I’ve heard yet. Thank you, Erica! There’s so much judgement out there…

  114. Meredith Leigh says...

    I’m 18 weeks pregnant with my first and reading this made me teary. Thank you for this.

  115. Amanda says...

    Love love love. Thanks for such a beautiful post. I’m bookmarking for a resource for any upcoming pregnancies of friends and family :)
    I had my son 8 months ago, and one thing I did was make a playlist while I was pregnant of any music that I connected with. I played it at my birth, and I love that when I still hear these songs I’m taken back to such an incredible day.

  116. Cindy says...

    I echo another comment: this might be the empathetic article on pregnancy I’ve ever read. Specifically, I anticipate that I will be repeating these two sentences in the future:
    * “It’s not Westworld. It’s all natural.”
    * Childbirth pain is sophisticated.

    Bravo!

  117. Cadence says...

    I love this, so much good advice. I just gave birth to our first child on Tuesday and I had no idea how difficult breastfeeding would/could be. The appointment with a lactation consultant was an absolute lifesaver.

  118. Elizabeth says...

    Her words are amazing and so spot on for a new mother, mother-to-be or anyone!! Wow! The part about natural birth is so thought-provoking and reassuring (and I have two small children and no plans for another!). Thank you for this awesome post.

  119. Katie says...

    Thank you for this! I am 23 weeks pregnant – my first. I am getting excited but am also totally terrified. I’ve never been very hung up on “natural” anything but am scared of pain and of the hospital environment. I have never felt my body is much good for anything – not a big exerciser, not into meeting physical challenges, just feel like it gets me from point A to point B. So the idea of having to depend on it to get something so daunting done is terrifying. I just want to come out on the other side not completely traumatized, and I am not sure how to do that. This at least gives me some ways to think about that- thank you!!

  120. Kate says...

    Lovely, non-judgmental advice in this post.

    After having my daughter I felt terrible mentally and physically depleted. I had taken medication for mild depression for years, but this felt much more pronounced and frightening, and it went on for months after her delivery. Thinking it was post-partum depression, I saw my doctor. She tested my thyroid levels via a simple blood test, which were extremely low. I was diagnosed with post-partum thyroiditis, something I had never heard of. My energy-levels and mental health quickly stabilized after I was put on a daily dose of thyroid-replacement medicine. Now I tell every woman I know who has a baby: if you’re feeling bad, or just not like yourself: include the possibility of getting your thyroid levels checked when you speak with your doctor about post-partum care.

    • Em says...

      We switched to formula at 6 months, and we loved the Aldi brand…it’s half the cost of brand names and our son didn’t notice a difference. Some babies do, I’m sure, but we were lucky to save some money on that. Good luck!

    • Em says...

      Oops replied to the wrong post!

  121. Three cheers for writing on “natural” birth. I’m not a mama, but many of my friends are and the subtle preening about birthing question drive me bonkers. My friend likes to say there is no such thing as natural birth, just medicated and unmedicated.

    As someone who hopes to be a mama one day, I’m glad to have this filed away in my heart and mind.

  122. Emily W says...

    I just found out I’m pregnant with our first. It’s still VERY unreal. This was a great post to come across. Thanks for sharing!

    • Robin says...

      Congratulations! What an awesome blessing!

  123. SAM says...

    Tears and YES and THANK YOU!!!

  124. Lauren Benninger says...

    What a wonderful, well written post! I also wanted to mention that many hospitals offer lactation consulting, free of charge- even long after you have left the hospital. After bottle feeding my twins, I breastfed my third daughter and was still having difficulty after about five weeks. The lactation consultant at my local hospital was a huge help. I did have to go to hospital with the baby for an in person consultation, but they were also available by phone 24 hours a day. Though I’m sure the availability of these types of services varies from community to community, I would encourage any new mom who is struggling with breastfeeding, or any other postpartum issue, to check out what their hospital has to offer- you may be pleasantly surprised!

  125. Leslie says...

    Amazingly informative and encouraging. Love it and wish everyone would read!

  126. Liz says...

    Currently expecting our first baby and I loved everything about this post, especially the part regarding “natural birth”. I feel much more confident about making the choices that are right for me and my baby when it comes to labor and delivery.

  127. Kelley Anne says...

    Ugh, I wish I’d read this before my first child was born. There’s so much competition and divisiveness around birth and feeding your baby. I had to have an unplanned emergency c-section after 21 hours of labor and then couldn’t exclusively feed either of my children at the breast. Eventually, my third lactation consultant told me flat out that I just didn’t have the breast tissue to produce enough milk and that I just needed to make sure my baby was fed. I felt like such a failure in the first few months of motherhood and started to realize soon after how many women had similar experiences. Luckily I found fantastic nurses, pediatricians, lactation consultants and mother friends along the way over the past five years who’ve helped me ease up on myself and realize that every child, birth and family is different. What a fantastic post!

  128. Lindsay says...

    I love this. I’m 21 weeks and some days it’s no big deal and other days pregnancy seems monumental and nearly impossible. I’m constantly trying to be kind to myself, my body and my energy, not putting too much pressure on myself to do things and accept what I can’t do with grace, but it sure is hard some days. Hers sounds like a book worth reading! Thank you for sharing! :)

  129. sydnee says...

    What an insightful read! I was last pregnant 8 years ago but it feels like yesterday.

  130. Katie Peshek says...

    This is the loveliest, most empathetic post. I so hope that moms-to-be read this and take it to heart. Thank you so much for sharing!

  131. I really appreciate the “natural birth” section. I’d never thought of it in those terms before—so helpful.

    • helen h says...

      I second that! I had an unplanned C-section and felt horrible guilt, exacerbated by this “natural birth” mandate which seems so pervasive and can be so punishing! I really appreciate Erica’s POV on this. xo

  132. Elyse says...

    This is so funny because I just started following loom on instagram. I loved their perspective on the entire pregnancy/motherhood process. I have hormonal/mentral issues and we will be trying for a child soon. I sought out places (although I live 4,000+ miles from LA) to help support me virtually and physically through the process. Thanks for showcasing such a great person/business!

  133. Sarah says...

    This is awesome! As a new Mom everything here is right on. I WISH I had brought my own pillow to the hospital.

    Also THANK YOU for touching on mental health. I decided to continue on my SSRI through my pregnancy despite initial push back from my primary caregiver. My OBGYN was much more supportive. I am so thankful now to be 6 months postpartum with no serious panic attacks.

  134. Wendy Garrett says...

    You should feature Erica in a style or beauty post!! She has incredible style :)

  135. Kim says...

    I love, love, love Erica’s messages about acceptance and the recognition that there is no one right or best way to be a mother and navigate the process of having a child. Am done having kids, but will be ordering her book as part of baby shower gifts!
    Also, I highly recommend having a doula. My doula was amazing – She made such a positive impact on the experience and was an incredible advocate for me.

  136. yes to all of this! i just had my second baby 12 weeks ago and wound up having a repeat c-section. i had planned to try for a vbac, but in the end, a second section was the best choice for our family. i found myself referring to how i didn’t give birth “naturally” until one day i realized i was just reinforcing the idea that a c-section isn’t a “real” way to give birth. so forget that! now i make a point to try not to distinguish between types of births at all.

  137. Joanna (Not that one) says...

    This is the most sensible, empathetic, and undogmatic thing I have read about birth/ becoming a parent maybe ever. Love this. Thank you.

  138. My babies are 12 and 9 years old and I totally cried reading this. All such true, wise words.

  139. This is probably the best thing I’ve ever read on this topic! I just had my third baby three months ago, and found myself saying “yes!” out loud several times!

    As a mom your gut is your best friend, always and forever. A wheelie bag is such a good idea, and I don’t know why I made my husband lug my giant bag around the hospital all three times! I HATE the term “natural birth” and the guilt and judgement associated with birthing any way but the “right” way. It’s not fair, and it’s mean, to put that kind of pressure on someone doing such a magnificent thing! From now on I’m telling everyone to put lactation services on their baby registry! Can you even imagine a better gift? Amazing!

    As for the mental health aspect, I was just discussing this with a friend. I had terrible depression during my first pregnancy, terrible PPD after my second child, and fortunately I seem to be doing OK three months into life with my third baby, but I’ve still been too hard on myself. As a culture we tend to put our babies’ needs so far ahead of our own that it’s actually detrimental to the baby. A healthy mom is a good mom, and mom’s mental health should be our primary concern. Everything else will fall into place if we care for mothers first. As I always say, “first mother the mother.”

  140. VP says...

    Great post! One thing I wish I heard as a first-time expectant mother was that it’s perfectly ok not to breastfeed (BF). I’m in the medical profession and clearly knew the benefits of breastfeeding. It was my goal, and I had this idea that it was natural and therefore easy. My own mom never had problems with breastfeeding aside from producing too much milk while at work! I ended up with the opposite problem – not producing enough, not to mention other complications which were my worst nightmare. I truly resented the breastfeeding classes I went to for drilling it in that formula was bad and BF was best. Sometimes, women can’t BF for whatever reason. And sometimes, they don’t want to, which is ok too. Looking back, I laugh at myself for thinking I could have possibly pumped at work every few hours given the nature of my work. The most important thing is keeping your kid alive, and that means feeding the kid what they will eat — breast milk or formula or a combination of these! I actually feel lucky that I could afford formula because so many women can’t. I have a friend who quit her job because formula was too expensive and she had to stay home to figure out how to breastfeed. That’s how much effort it can take! There’s no reason to feel guilty or ashamed about the decision to not BF or to stop breastfeeding sooner than planned. You should only feel proud that you are doing the best you can for the well-being of your child.

    • Meg says...

      Absolutely! To say that “all women can breastfeed” is a lie. I could not. I just didn’t produce milk! and i had a pre-term baby who would have starved. I felt very isolated and judged. It was tough to enjoy that first year with my precious little guy when I was so torn about breastfeeding. I would encourage anyone and everyone: do the best you can. Formula is not rat poison!

  141. Rosie Leach says...

    Slow claps all around. I had an amazing birth experience with my first and I want to buy this book to support such an incredible woman and message!

  142. Rebecca says...

    This is so beautiful! I wish I had had her by my side during my transition to motherhood. I put so much pressure on myself throughout the entire journey, and when I didn’t live up to those expectations I felt like such a failure. I wanted to try labor without medication, but 15 hours in I was freaking exhausted, scared, and in so much pain…getting the epidural was the best decision I’ve ever made, but I still feel some shame that I chose it. I love how positive and inclusive Erica is, and her reminder that every mother is to be respected and celebrated for giving of herself to bring new life into the world!

  143. Oh wow I love this so much. Especially your wise words re “Natural Birth.” I had a hospital birth, and a (on purpose) home birth, and I always cringe when someone calls them “natural”. It seems unnecessarily devisive, and unproductive at the least. What works in one situation, might not be the best approach in another– and I am good example of that:) “It’s not Westworld. It’s all natural.” Yes! Thank you!

    PS. A sound machine at the hospital was super helpful for recovery! I always tell expecting parents to bring one:)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, a sound machine! i wish i had brought that. great idea.

      and such a lovely comment, gaia.

    • Amy says...

      What???? Why was a sound machine not on all 500 hospital packing lists I googled? That’s brilliant!

    • Emily says...

      I second the sound machine and also recommend ear plugs. It was very surprising to me how many people played their televisions so loudly in their rooms and post delivery I was so jarred by that noise. The sweet nurses brought me ear plugs but the sound machine would have been incredible!

    • Katherine says...

      There are great free apps you can get for your phone too. One less thing to pack!

  144. JD says...

    Reading this brought tears to my eyes, especially the part about unnatural vs natural birth. I was induced at 43 weeks, eventually needed a C-section, and even today I have a hard time mentioning it within earshot of my sister, who talked endlessly about her own “natural” birth. Thank you so much for sharing this!

  145. Al says...

    as a fellow doula & childbirth educator I love this post. THANK YOU for saying all birth is natural. This has been my personal crusade and one that’s become increasingly difficult in the bay area where unmedicated birth is seen as something that makes you a better parent (eye roll). I do love packing a diffuser in my doula bag, but a word of caution – sometimes a scent that a person loves during labor can quickly become something they hate! Once a scent is in the room it’s hard to get it out. I like to bring roller balls of essential oils too so that a laboring person can smell them or I can rub it on their temples during labor.

  146. Stephanie says...

    Thank you, thank you! I will be 31 weeks into my first pregnancy on Wednesday, and everything you’ve shared about pregnancy–both in this post and others–is so refreshingly open and free from judgement. In other words, a miracle just when the world seems to think it has ownership (however well-intentioned) over your body.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      congratulations, stephanie! hope you’re feeling well xoxoxo

  147. Cindy says...

    hey Joanna! don’t kill the messenger, but you have a typo in the first paragraph…”Nuture” instead of “Nurture”…
    love the post!

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Thank you, Cindy!!

  148. Megan says...

    All the best advice in one post!!!

  149. Cassidy says...

    What an incredible person! I wish she could coach me through every aspect of my life.

    • Jane says...

      Right! She is incredibly wise!!