What are we without it?
Community makes up the fabric of our lives.
Who we spend our days with and how we spend our time are intricately connected to the community that we surround ourselves with. The people we choose to call into our personal space are a reflection of all that we desire to be. Community is the lifeblood of belonging, and it is no truer during pregnancy and postpartum that you will need a strong community to be part of your journey through these stages of your life.
As I embark on my fourth pregnancy journey, I am working to unlearn what I think I know about birth. And as a busy birth doula and mother, I am taking my time to create a community that will support me—judgment free! In order to do this, I must take inventory of my needs, my boundaries, my resources, and my expectations. While these things will vary from person to person, one thing remains constant: unbiased and unwavering support is critical to the success of birth, postpartum, and parenthood alike.
As we build the community that we need, what happens to relationships that no longer serve us? This has always been a constant battle of the ever-evolving woman. And surely we cross this bridge yet again in pregnancy, and then again in postpartum. For some, they’ll have relationships that might stand the test of time. Every stage of life will bring them closer to their current community, and everyone falls into their place. But for others, there will be broken friendships, ones that couldn’t handle the flux or the changing landscape that pregnancy, birth, and postpartum will undoubtedly bring. But, the truth is, our community is dynamic. It evolves as we do.
In birth, we will gather our troops: our doula, our midwife, our OB, our specialist, our support groups, our best friends, and our trusted family members. It is with these people we will find our guides. And as we begin to navigate the pains of birth, it is within that we find the true guide. But, lest we forget, it is with the community we chose that we are aligned enough to access our internal guide for birth. Choose who makes up the patchwork quilt of your pregnancy and birth journey wisely.
And then suddenly, you are a mother for the first time, or maybe this is your third. No matter what, your needs and your support system will shapeshift again. I am an ardent supporter of the postpartum doula as the main community member of the postpartum journey. This person will act as a light post, a beacon of support, a second pair of hands to support the partner, and a trusted resource. Creating a community around you for postpartum is the most critical aspect of planning for birth. Forget the things you think you need and plan for a community-centred postpartum, arranging your most trusted sources. From meals to lactation to pelvic floor therapists, the more support, the better we all are for it.
In the end, it’s this: a trusted, well-established community is the anecdote to so many aches and pains of pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. Trust it, believe it, build it.
Words by Kimberly Zuleger Muse. Leslie Pelonero