Going it alone is not a sensible choice, as Cassandra Stockwell is keen to point out, “In this journey, as much as you are a strong woman, you can’t do everything, and asking for help is not a weakness. It’s a strength.”
Cassandra is one half of the team that runs Mamas Maternal Health. Alongside Mikayla Wright, she supports women with autoimmune diseases during their pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding stages of life. Both women are registered dietitians and lactation counselors, and they are passionate about empowering mothers.
You Don’t Have To Do Everything Yourself
Many women are obsessed with the idea of self-reliance. They are so keen to be seen as capable and independent that they are reluctant to ask others for help, even when they undoubtedly need it.
“The idea of having a super-inclusive support system is so foreign to so many women because we’re supposed to be able to do it on our own,” Mikayla says. “We’re supposed to be able to not only take care of the baby but also get the groceries, get the money, take care of our partner, and everything all at the same time.”
Cassandra agrees, “There’s definitely a reluctance to seek help. The old phrase ‘it takes a village’ is worth paying attention to because modern society is very isolating for females. You’re expected to be the perfect mum, work a full-time job, look a certain way, eat a certain way. You have to fit in this mold. There’s not enough time in the day to do all these things, but we still put it on mums to do that and to feel that way.”
It is clearly a problem that society puts these kinds of pressure on women, but individual mothers cannot control the attitudes of the wider world. They have to focus on themselves and realize that they can do things their way.
“I think the biggest thing is dropping the mentality that you can and have to do everything on your own,” Cassandra says. “You need help from professionals, your family, your partner, and your friends, so go and ask for that help. You will be more successful if you get that support.”
It Can Be Dangerous To Compare Yourself To Others
“If you’re on social media and looking at other accounts of pregnancy, there’s a good chance you’re comparing yourself,” Cassandra explains. “It can happen without you necessarily realizing it. Social media shows ‘the best of us,’ the edited version, and it’s not as real as you would hope.”
The motherhood expert continues, “So you see a woman who is having this magic, glowing, goddess pregnancy, and she’s one with nature and herself, but it’s a show. She’s probably still struggling. And you’re sitting there, and you know your experience, and you’re like, ‘Wow, I don’t ever look like that.’ But she could be putting on makeup after terrible morning sickness, smiling for the camera and the lights, and doing all the editing, but she’s still struggling like you. So you probably see a lot of false advertising on social media.”
It is vitally important for mothers to retain a sense of perspective when they go on social media. As Cassandra explains, “There are some outstanding accounts out there with excellent information and advice. But not all of that stuff is going to be pertinent to you. If someone says, ‘this is how I did my pregnancy,’ you can’t model your pregnancy on that because you’re different. And your body, pregnancy, experiences, environment, and circumstances are different too.”
“Expert doesn’t mean an Instagram account with a million followers,” adds Mikayla. “They may have zero education in the medical field. So make sure you seek out credentialed professionals and not just mums posting about their personal experiences.”
Family Support Is Important, But So Is Expert Help
“Often, women look at their support as their mum or sister,” Mikayla explains. “And sometimes that’s great, but sometimes it’s terrible because they think they know everything about your pregnancy. But they’re not medical professionals, they probably don’t know what they’re doing in regards to your journey specifically, and they may just be making you feel guilty about your choices”.”
“So your family and loved ones are great, but they’re relying on personal experience. There is expert support out there that pertains to you as a woman. Everything about you and your pregnancy is unique, so let that empower you and let that take you to the next level to get that support you need.”
Cassandra agrees, “You have friends, neighbors, family with their own experiences. But one of the biggest things to understand is that you are an individual, and it’s important to set your own goals that feel comfortable. You need to understand that everyone’s journey looks different, and that’s normal. There’s no one right or wrong way to do something, and whatever is working for you is the right way.”