I watch 16 and Pregnant a lot. I started watching it when I was pregnant, when most people watch A Baby Story or Birth Stories or whatever else makes them feel better about the human being they’re growing.
While I was watching 16 and Pregnant, and watching my own belly grow, I also watched The Business of Being Born – which I recommend to everyone who is having or thinking about having a baby.
(Yes, I know the documentary was made with a specific viewpoint).
Watching the documentary, and taking a prenatal class, and talking to other moms, reading their blogs, and learning through 42 weeks of being pregnant, having to be induced, and going through labour, 16 and Pregnant has changed for me.
(Yes, I know they try to get the most drama out of the mothers they choose).
The thing that bothers me most about the show is that these girls, these poor, young pregnant girls, is that they have no one to hold their hand and tell them that they have choices they are allowed to make.
Today I watched an episode where the girl was 39 weeks and her doctor told her it was time to induce. No one told her that she wasn’t even really full term yet, and that she could still wait to go into labour naturally, and that they were probably only inducing her at 39 weeks because Christmas was coming.
No one seems to talk to these new mothers about breastfeeding. I have seen a handful of them try in three seasons, and one of the mother’s mothers told her that she shouldn’t breastfeed because it would make her boobs sag.
It makes me think about all the things I wish I could tell these girls:
- Expect to have difficulty breastfeeding, even though you might be one of those lucky women that it just works for, the harder you expect it to be the easier it will be.
- Listen to the people who tell you to take it easy the day after you give birth. You’ll be running on adrenaline, but the more you do the more it’s going to hurt the next day.
- The first night, before your milk comes in, the baby is having a whole new weird experience and it’s going to be really freaking hard. You probably won’t speak at all.
- Tell the father what you expect from them before the baby is born. Don’t let your frustration build up until you start fighting. Tell them you need them to help change the baby, or rock the baby, or give the baby baths. Give them a job, it might actually help them. They’re confused, and you’re the mom and everyone expects you to just be able to do this stuff and no one has told them what they’re supposed to do.
- Get out of the house. Those first few months the baby can’t do much at all, and you’ll be scared to leave the house with them, but go for walks, sit in the park, go to a coffee shop and just sit with them. Try and find mom communities online or in your city. A support system outside your support system is – spending all day at home alone with a baby doesn’t seem like it should be hard, but it really, really is
- You don’t realize how easy it is when they’re so small until they get bigger and mobile
- Know that you are not alone, that no matter how angry or sad you feel you love your child, know that it’s the hardest job in the world – made even harder if you’re struggling with your relationship at the same time. Relish the great moments and just get through the rest.