My water broke as I got out of bed on a Sunday morning. Twenty-four grueling hours later, I gave birth to a beautiful and healthy baby girl. We spent that day getting to know one another and that night discovering one of those universal mom truths; this sleep thing is hard. The next day a well-meaning visitor asked how the baby was sleeping. I told her that the baby slept fine as long as I held her. The woman told me knowingly, to be careful, “that’s how you spoil a baby.”
This advice seemed so ridiculous and wrong, but I was so full of new-mom-doubt it became one more nagging worry. What if I really could spoil my baby? As the weeks turned into months I
realized that what I needed most as a new mom was the confidence to follow my intuition. The road to motherhood is paved in advice and sometimes it takes gumption to pick out the good from the bad. Now that I’m a more experienced mother, I can see that it’s a time-honored female tradition to impart our wisdom on the mommy-to-be. Our nurturing instinct makes us want to help our friends, or sometimes perfect strangers, have an easier time of it than we did. However, when giving advice we need to think about how different those first few weeks would have been if others had sought to impart strength rather than wisdom. While that never-fail burping trick may be helpful, it’s not anything a new mom can’t read in an article. The thing that will truly make a difference in a new mother’s life is giving her the gift of confidence.
We need to empower new moms to do their own research, search their own hearts and confidently embrace their own choices as mothers.
I’m curious if anyone else received bad advice as a new mom? How did the advice you received affect the way you approached motherhood? What kind of advice do you give to newbies? Here’s some of mine:
#1 Learn everything you can before the baby comes. Read all the books, take all the classes, talk to all the other mommies. Not only will this help ease anxieties, but when your baby is crying uncontrollably you’ll need a veritable toolbox of things you can try to soothe him.
#2 Find a doctor for your baby that you like and trust. You are going to worry a lot and feel like you are doing things wrong a lot. Your baby’s doctor should be a source of support and encouragement. You should never be made to feel silly for worrying about your child.
#3 The end result is the same regardless of how your birth story goes. Know what you want, but also know that you might change your mind or things might not work out as planned. Your birth story will be yours, however birth unfolds. Embrace it and know that whatever is in store for you, in the end, you’ll have a beautiful baby to hold.
#4 Google “How to get baby to sleep in his own bed?” and you will get advice running the gamut from, “buy earplugs and close the nursery door” to “let baby sleep in your bed with your nipple in his mouth until he’s four.” Whatever your question, you will find conflicting information. I know it’s tough, but all any of us can do is read both sides and make a choice.
#5 From the moment you see those pink lines, you will feel pressure to be a certain way. Aren’t you excited? You must be terrified of birth. When you hold that baby it will be love at first sight. Motherhood is an experience unique to you. Your feelings most likely won’t fit into a neat little package of motherly bliss and that’s okay.