A Reminder For the Mamas: Be Your Own Advocate

As I do some review of the literature around perinatal social support for my Masters course, I started thinking. I mean – thinking about more than what I was reading. I was thinking about the purpose of this blog and I wanted to highlight something really important. Advocacy. And you – what you want, need, and desire.

I know that I constantly write “listen to your HCP” and “they are your best source of information”. For reliable, evidence-based health information that takes into consideration your own personal health history – this is certainly true. I stand by my statements, and I will continue to recommend seeking the advice of your HCP when you have questions about your health.

But I wanted to also highlight the importance of your knowledge – of yourself and your child. Of your needs, wants, and desires. These are equally as important and I’m sorry that I don’t always clearly reiterate that in every post, because just as much as I recommend talking to your HCP, I should also remind you to be considering what you want/need; what is best for you; and letting those things also inform your decisions. I think I manage to do this in most posts, but going forward I’ll make a more active effort to do so.

I should also be consistently highlighting the importance of advocacy. I try! I constantly tell you all to ask questions, bring up your concerns with your HCP, and expand your knowledge on topics so you can be informed to make health decisions. This is self-advocacy – if you’re concerned about something, don’t be afraid to ask. I repeat: find a HCP you trust so you can have open conversations with them about things that worry or concern you; things that matter to you.

My goal here with this blog is to provide informational support, but also a form of social support.

In terms of information, I try to consolidate and curate reliable resources for you, so that when you have a question or concern, there is a compendium available to you that doesn’t involve hours of Google searches. I put everything in one place and try to focus on popular topics so when you see a tweet that makes you say “wait, is that true?!” you can look in one location for current research, recommendations, and more.

As I constantly repeat – I am not providing advice. Just information. And experience – I do like to include my personal experiences where applicable, because this is valuable to people (I think). Having a peer you can relate to or who has “done it before you” or maybe at the same time as you even, is helpful or I personally found it to be so.

I know not everyone has that person to rely on, or sometimes we like to seek information/opinions/informal advice from a variety of sources so that we can compare them, evaluate them, and make our own decision. I try to make my blog “like” that experience in real life – I include resources and recommendations, but also what I did, or how I experienced something.

I try to talk about my struggles and my silver linings in motherhood and parenting because I think some sources of support we use like Instagram (and I use it too, so I know) focus too much on the silver and not enough on the cloudy day – which we all experience at some point or another, some more often than others.

Some might not have that silver lining – maybe it’s all dark, or it feels like that. That’s why I try to provide resources, or just a push – seek help. Don’t be afraid. There are resources and services available for you that can help. I try to use my blog as a tool to disseminate information on those types of things too.

So my blog is a tool. It’s a form of support. It’s a call to action for the moms. Here is some information; here is peer support through my experience; and now it’s your turn to go forth into the universe and make decisions.

Speak to your HCP – this is still so important, and I know there is a ton of mistrust around HCPs (always, sadly), but that is why finding someone you trust is important. Sometimes this might be multiple sources – an interdisciplinary team. That’s good. Your “team” may also include your partner, your mother, other family members, and your friends (whether they be IRL or online – how you connect makes no difference on the quality of the relationship).

But in the end, you’re taking all of this in – all this information – and you are the one making a health decision. Don’t devalue your knowledge. You know yourself, and you know your children. This is SO valuable – no one else will have this intimate knowledge. Not even your HCP – a personal health history has its importance, but no one will know your story like you do.

That is why it’s important to be your own advocate. Tell your story. This is the message I am constantly trying to send you in each blog post and even just through my creation of this blog. I want you to know that you are the one making your health decisions, that in the end – it comes down to you and that what you want or what works for you matters.

A deep breath – inhale information, medical advice from your trusted HCP, and the stories of other women, parents, or people. A moment to think – and this can be a long moment. Use your critical thinking. Think about your values, what works for your family, what matters most to you. If you’re still unsure – speak to your provider about what is worrying you. Talk about how your family life works and what is ‘possible’ for you and what is not. What you can make work and what you’re not sure about. Ask questions about what you don’t fully understand or what you’re not sure you believe/trust/rely on. Advocate for yourself or your child. Take this all in again – weigh your options, use your decision-making skills once you have all the information that you need.

Then – a deep breathe out. Make your decision. Speak up. Don’t be afraid to say what you need with conviction. You are mama, and you should have a big role to play in your own health and life. Don’t you dare forget that.

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