As a new mum you receive advice galore, every person you meet seems to have some words of wisdom on how you should feed, burp, rock, change and generally act around your baby. The majority of it is also unsolicited and can be delivered in ways that can make you either doubt yourself or make you feel annoyed and upset. However, it can also be welcomed supportive advice that leaves you feeling empowered to make the right choice for you and your baby based on what you’ve heard.
Recently I had some concerns over my newborn and had some family members on the end the phone and calling in to help me middle through it. It was just what I needed, I have always been a worrier and an over thinker that’s pessimistic so I needed their support more for building up my confidence so I could make my own choices and take action in the way I felt I should. They didn’t boss, they discussed, shared their experiences and opinions, helping me to draw up my own conclusions. I walked away from them feeling like the confident, decisive, loving new mum that I want to be, knowing I was doing right by my daughter.
Unfortunately though I’ve also had some negative experiences and “advice” which has left me feeling frustrated, deflated and also a teary, hormonal new mum that was criticised rather than supported. Deep down I know that when this advice is delivered I need to take it with a pinch of salt but it’s not always easy to do that. Parenting my child is personal, and my husband and I, have made decisions that are what we feel are the best for our daughter. As a new mum you question and query everything so when someone criticises this in an antagonistic way it’s hurtful.
We made the decision to breastfeed Baby P and although it’s been a bit of a journey we know it’s giving our daughter so much goodness that formula milk can’t as well creating a bond (not to mention releasing epic amounts of oxytocin) that is good for both me and baby. Unfortunately though I wasn’t prepared for the negativity I would receive for choosing to nourish my daughter in this way. According to some, I shouldn’t breastfeed because it means they don’t get to cuddle my baby, my baby wants comfort on the boob, it takes too long, my baby gets hungry, my baby cries and ultimately they don’t like it. This really hurt and wasn’t advice, I felt preached at and didn’t need this as a new mum.
It took awhile for me to rationalise the thoughts in my mind, because firstly I didn’t have my baby to be passed around and cuddled (she prefers playtime and to look around anyway the nosey Parker) I had a baby to love, nurture and grow into a young person then adult. Yes my baby will cry, it’s what babies do to communicate so would happen regardless of whether or not they were breast or bottle fed. As for it taking a long time and my baby wanting comfort on the boob well it doesn’t bother me how long it takes, I like the experience of feeding my baby and cradling her as she suckles, and finding comfort on the boob is one of the bonuses of breastfeeding I think. If I’m struggling to settle her and cannot fathom out why she’s crying because you can’t over feed a breastfed baby I can latch her on to ease her discomfort!
In short one of the main and biggest decisions we’d made as parents, long before Baby P was born, was being criticised but under the mask of advice. This has happened with other things but not as openly and harshly, however it has still happened. What it has made me learn is a few things; firstly, that just like when you plan a wedding, people lose all sense of respect and manners and feel the need to make quite personal comments and disapprovals of your choices. Secondly, I’ve learnt that you need to take comments with a pinch of salt, listen to what people tell you, nod, smile and then take on board what is useful and discard the rest with the dirty nappies. From there you can then form in your own mind what’s best for you and your baby in your situation.
I would never openly condemn someone else’s parenting choices-it doesn’t come with a rule book and we’re all muddling through trying to keep our little ones alive, happy, loved and healthy. I’m not living in another mum’s shoes so I don’t know what’s right for her and her off spring just like others aren’t walking in my shoes. So I’m now, almost 9 weeks in, trying to take things with a pinch of salt.
I’ll find it hard, I’ve a bad habit of worrying too much about what people think and taking comments to heart, but hopefully by venting through this post, I’ll take more comments with a pinch of salt and care for my baby how I feel is best.