The thought of having a baby is an exciting and daunting experience rolled into one. You are so excited to meet this little person and become a mother, but you have no idea what it will really be like and what your life is going to resemble after the birth.
So much is changing in your life it is so tempting to spend all your time talking about the changes, your excitement, your plans, your worries and your expectations.
From this day on you will encounter an army of women (and some men) who will see it as their duty to give you advice on every aspect of your life, current and future. Although this is well-meaning in the main, each of us is different and each of our children are different. What worked for you may not work for me, and what you believe may not be in line with my values.
Here are some examples of advice that I have been given throughout the years:
1) Push through the pain and keep breastfeeding
I remember a health professional giving me this advice with my first daughter.
I was in extreme pain; I hadn’t mastered the correct latching technique and as such was inadvertently causing myself problems. I was filled with dread before each feed and the first 2 minutes were excruciating.
Some mothers simply cannot breastfeed. For whatever reason – low supply, failure to thrive baby, painful feeding, tongue-tied baby. Giving advice that they should continue to attempt to breastfeed at all costs is not helpful. We all know “breast is best” for the majority, but it may not be best for us in the situation that we are in.
Don’t end up failing to bond with your baby or finding yourself suffering from anxiety because others expect you to breastfeed.
2) Do not rock/cuddle/breastfeed your baby to sleep
This was a common one as I fed both my girls to sleep every night for the first 18 months of their lives.
Apparently, I was making a rod for my own back. Teaching them bad habits. Although I was sure I wouldn’t be breastfeeding them to sleep at 15 years old, some people implied that I would have no choice!
To this day, I cuddle my 5 year old and 4 year old to sleep every night. Not because they can not sleep without a cuddle, but because they like it and I like it.
What could be nicer than drifting off to sleep getting a nice warm cuddle and back rub?
I am not looking forward to the day when they tell me that they would rather go to bed on their own. It is quite possibly my favourite 20 minutes of the day.
3) Get your baby into a routine and stick to it
Some of the mothers around me had read books. They had plans. They wanted their babies to sleep at certain times, wake for certain periods and feed at allocated times.
They often expressed or bottle fed to measure the milk intake. When the children moved onto solids, they talked in “cubes”. They had set amounts to feed their children each day.
I took a slightly different approach, which worked for me. I fed when my babies were hungry. They slept when they were tired. They went where I was going and fitted in around what was going on with the rest of the family. They ate however much they ate before they started turning away or spitting it out.
The pressure of a routine would not have worked for me and my approach would not have worked for these other mums. Nobody has it right. Just right for ourselves.
4) Use controlled crying to get more sleep
I am sure it works for some. But it would never work for me. My feelings are that my babies are crying for a reason and I will comfort them.
I still get up anytime my girls call me, even if they just want to tell me that they want to paint the next day.
I know other mums who swear their sanity was saved by using controlled crying or similar methods, and I am genuinely happy for them, as we are all well aware of the impact of severe sleep deprivation.
5) Don’t let your baby/children sleep with you
I understand that some people are concerned about the safety side of this, which is of course valid, but again this is a very personal choice for families to make. I know some families who sleep 5 to a bed and have done so for years. They are all well rested and very happy.
I also know families who will not let it happen and have a well established rule that every one sleeps in their own beds which works well.
I feel like I could have listed two hundred things that people offer you advice and opinion on. At the moment with my children at aged 4 and 5 years old, the hot topic seems to be the debate about starting your child at school as early as possible or as late as possible.
All of these decisions are very personal and in my case, a decision for one child may not even be the same as the decision for the other.
I know that most of the advice and comments that people give and make are intended well and hoping to be of some help, but at a time when you are transitioning through a big change and you are very tired, the best piece of advice I would give you is to ignore all the advice you get.
Through both trial and error and in line with your core beliefs work out what works for you and your family.
What advice did you constantly get when your kids were babies? SHARE in the comments below.