From the minute I fell pregnant I was inundated with (unsolicited) advice about how to parent my unborn child. From feeding styles through to letting the baby cry out, weaning, co-sleeping and lots more… I was educated by well-intentioned yet judgy Mum’s.
Over time I have felt more confident making decisions for me and my baby based on what feels right for us and what suits our needs. As long as he is happy, healthy and developing well, then that is all that matters. Below I outline a handful of the things people tried to steer me on.
Breastfeeding – Breast is best is the mantra from the midwives on the labour ward, through to the health visitor and every single ‘experienced’ Mum that I knew. Yet I had decided pretty early on that I didn’t want to breastfeed. Mainly due to personal reasons (medical) and partly because I wanted my partner to have half of the feeding duties rather than have that as solely my responsibility. I read the leaflets I was given, and I listened to all of the reasons as to why breastfeeding would be a great start in life for my child but after weighing up the pros and cons for me and my family, I decided that I wasn’t going to breastfeed. This decision of mine has been scrutinised time and time again by fellow mum’s, nurses and other people along the way but I’ve stuck to my guns. Breastfeeding isn’t for everyone.
“First and foremost, remember that ‘every mum has to make the decision that’s right for her,’ says Dr Meek. The pressure to breastfeed can be overwhelming at times, but you are not a failure if you can’t or choose not to breastfeed for any reason.”whattoexpect.com
Having a C-Section – Whether you choose to have a caesarean or not (the decision was taken out of my hands when I was given an emergency c-section delivery) there is a huge debate among the Mum community as to whether women who have had their baby surgically removed really ‘gave birth’ compared to those that delivered naturally. All I have to say on this matter is that every single woman’s experience of labour and birth is different. I started with natural labour which progressed from having a pessary inserted, an epidural, through to an attempted forceps delivery! Every mother’s story is different, and those who have had a caesarean aren’t any less of a mother for having had their baby delivered in that way.
“With an estimated 1 in 3 births happening via c-section, there are a lot of moms out there who are all too familiar with the fear, long recovery and, yes, often guilt that comes with not delivering your baby the “natural” way. And yet, some people still consider this delivery method (which, to be clear, is considered a major surgery) to be the ‘easy way out’ when it comes to childbirth.”Thebump.com
Snapping back to pre-pregnancy weight – This one is annoying because again every single body has a different experience with pregnancy and that includes the changes the body goes through during those 9 months and after the birth. Some women gain stretch marks, some have wider hips, some go up a shoe size, some experience glossier hair and better skin… everyone is different and there should be no judgement here. Whether you snap back to your pre-pregnancy weight a month after giving birth or it takes you a year or more… it doesn’t matter. The body has just done something pretty amazing and should be given a break!
“Weight gain is an important – and natural – part of any pregnancy. Gain too little – or, equally, too much – and you could be putting yourself and your unborn baby at risk of health problems. That’s why following guidelines such as those from the NHS, and listening to your pregnancy care professionals, is crucial.”Women’s Health Magazine
There are plenty more areas that ‘judgy Mum’s’ have tried to guide me in when it comes to being a First Time Mum and in a lot of cases they do come from a well-intentioned, good-hearted place. These include not letting my baby get used to sleeping in my arms *eye roll*, commenting on my choice to use a dummy *really?* and advocating the ‘crying out’ method *no thanks!*… I think people forget that sometimes just because they have done something a certain way or they’ve read an opinion piece on why it’s the best approach… it doesn’t mean it’s the be-all and end-all, and sometimes how advice is imparted can come across as preaching to the choir.
I hope that new mum’s reading this can take away that they are doing a fabulous job, it’s not always sunshine and rainbows and the pressure to always be the ‘perfect mum’ just isn’t needed. You’re doing great Mummy!