Rebecca Schiller on her new book – Your No Guilt Pregnancy Plan. “It’s my way of countering some of the judgement, bullshit, guilt and narrow representations of motherhood that are out there.”
As a mother, doula, CEO of human rights in childbirth charity Birthrights and a parenting writer I get asked almost daily about which pregnancy book is the best. I have a bookcase full of candidates and always point people to a few chapters from one, balanced with another with a different viewpoint, supplemented with a dash of a third book and so on, until I realise I have had to suggest a whole library-full to ensure all bases are covered.
A lot of birth and parenting information comes from a place of believing there’s a right and a wrong way to give birth, feed your baby and become a mother – and that the author rather than the reader knows best. I have struggled to find one that really offers information without bias, trusts the women it’s written for and thinks beyond the birth to all the things that I know can really matter during this amazing but terrifying time: changes to our sense of self, emotional wellbeing, relationships, sex lives, work challenges and finances.
Your No Guilt Pregnancy Plan: A revolutionary guide to pregnancy, birth and the weeks that follow is my way of countering some of the judgement, bullshit, guilt and narrow representations of motherhood that are out there. In it I give information not advice, ensure readers understand their rights, remind them relentlessly that they matter and encourage them to set up self-care habits in pregnancy.
I think it’s a confusing, pressured and yet opportunity-full time to become a mother. If we can prepare women fully, listen to them actively and treat them as the adult humans they still are we will help them to emerge from birth ready for the wonder and challenges of parenting.
An excerpt from Your No Guilt Pregnancy Plan: A revolutionary guide to pregnancy, birth and the weeks that follow by Rebecca Schiller…
I have been a mother for eight wonderful and terrifying years. Motherhood has changed, exposed and expanded me. It has taken from me and offered back so much more – things I’m still scrabbling around in the dust for, trying to fit in to my understanding of who the hell I am and what I want to be. Pregnancy, birth and parenting have given me opportunities beyond the profound and simple wonder of making and getting to know my children. I’ve learned more about myself than at any other time in my life – things I am brilliant at, the many, many things I need to work on and what I need to just let go of and watch float away.
I’ve made the kind of friends who would walk over Lego pieces in bare feet for me – smiling encouragingly and carrying a gin and tonic. I’ve created two unique humans who I can claim at least 50% of the credit for, and discovered a flesh-eating virus of love for them that somehow leaves me both emptier and so much fuller than before. I’ve grown in to my body and, thanks to a new kind of respect for it, I feel more comfortable in it. It has been a joy-filled, horizon-expanding, riot of ride in so many ways for me and for the people who will tell their stories in the pages that follow.
But for each of us, the journey to today hasn’t always been a simple one. There have been contradictions, doubt, difficult decisions and plenty of conflicting and oh-so-strongly opinionated advice. The presence of a bump seems to gives the rest of the world permission to poke about in our personal decisions, comment on our bodies and tell us that we aren’t allowed to do as we want. How we feel about our births can have a long-lasting positive or negative impact on how we feel about ourselves. The staggering changes to our minds, bodies, lives and relationships aren’t properly acknowledged and we’re encouraged to scoop ourselves up, back into our jeans and former lives as if nothing had altered.
In a world that puts a lot of pressure on mothers, but doesn’t do a good job of trusting, valuing, supporting and nurturing us, it’s time to start a revolution and insist on a better, deeper, more realistic and less guilt-filled way to prepare for pregnancy, birth and parenting.
Excerpt from the introduction to Your No Guilt Pregnancy Plan: A revolutionary guide to pregnancy, birth and the weeks that follow by Rebecca Schiller. Published by Penguin Life, 3 May 2018.