Everyone hopes for a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby. Let’s not forget that mom’s health, hopes, and dreams are important, too.
If you have ever been pregnant, you’ve probably uttered the phrase “as long as my baby is healthy.” Or else, someone has said that phrase to you. It usually goes something like this:
“I’m finding out the sex today! We’re kind of hoping for a girl, but I don’t mind as long as it’s healthy.”
“It’s okay if you don’t end up with a natural birth. The most important thing is that your baby is healthy.”
This seems like a nice sentiment. I mean, everyone hopes for a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby. So, why would I be advocating that we drop this phrase from the pregnancy vernacular?
Even if it’s not the intention, it takes mom’s hopes and desires out of the picture.
Sometimes we forget that birth is about so much more than having a baby. It has a profound effect on the mother. Physically, of course, pregnancy and labor are demanding on her body. It is also a highly emotional time. The way a woman is made to feel during her labor and delivery will stay with her forever.
However unintentional, telling a mother that something about her pregnancy, labor, delivery, or hopes for her baby “don’t matter as long as the baby is healthy” is essentially sending her the message that she doesn’t matter. It’s all about the baby.
The way they want to deliver their child is important. Where they want to birth is important. If they express that they are hoping to have a girl, that desire is important. Instead of defaulting to “it doesn’t matter as long as the baby is healthy”, we need to listen and validate their preferences.
The phrase can also make mothers feel guilty.
If a woman is hoping to have her baby naturally, it can be very defeating to hear that her birth plan is irrelevant as long as the outcome is a healthy baby. Similarly, if a mother admits to hoping for one sex over another she may feel like is being ungrateful for the new life growing inside her. She may feel like she shouldn’t be placing any emphasis on her own desires. However, what she wants is important. It is equally important for her to feel supported in her decisions. That support, or lack thereof, can set the tone for the beginning of her and baby’s postpartum journey.
What should we say instead?
The answer is: nothing. We need to learn to listen. Or, better yet, ask questions “Can you tell me more about your hopes and dream for birth?”; “how can I help?” Women need to be heard and know that they are a vital part of the picture.
Furthermore, if we’re placing the highest emphasis on health, we need to also remember that “healthy mothers equal healthy babies.” Physically and mentally.
What do you think? Has anyone ever said this to you? How did you feel? Please tell us in the comments below!