If there is one thing that continues to amaze me it’s this: well educated, well read and well informed women suddenly being riddled with anxiety and insecurity once they have a baby.
And I get it. I really do. I’ve had three kids and no amount of book reading or internet surfing can really prepare you for the realities of becoming a mum. We all do it though. We all buy books that will tell us how to birth our babies. We’ll read books or websites that will teach us how to care for a newborn. We’ll ask friends and family for advice or join NCT classes to learn everything we need to know.
We live in an age where we have access to all the information we could possibly need on parenting.
Which is great. Except not all of this information is in agreement. A lot of it is opinion rather than fact. There’s a little bit (or sometimes a lot) of scaremongering that goes on (we’ve all read horror stories about things going wrong). And there is no definitive way of parenting that everyone agrees is best for both mum and baby.
Essentially what this means is that it is hard to know what is right for us or our babies anymore. We get caught up in worrying about why our baby is doing something different to other babies. Hearing how friends or family care for their babies can leave us wondering whether we’re doing it wrong. We might feel like we are entrenched in bad habits that are judged by other people. It can knock our confidence and make us feel like we are bad mothers.
Luckily there is a simple remedy to this.
Learn to trust your instincts and do what is right for you.
In the last week alone I’ve spoken to two mums who felt like their babies should be able to sleep independently and separately from them. They feel like other mums around them are either doing it better (because their little darlings apparently go to sleep in their cots and don’t wake up till morning). Or that they are doing something they shouldn’t, which isn’t good for them or the baby. In short, they feel guilty for co-sleeping and pressured to try and change it.
The thing is, both these mums love co-sleeping and deep down, don’t want to have to change it. And why should they? If it’s working for them and their babies; if they are happy and baby is content and secure then what is the problem?
I have to say that I found it hard to observe the level of insecurity they feel about what they are doing. Simply because that insecurity isn’t coming from them; it’s coming from those around them and that’s not fair.
Both these women are amazing mothers.
They are intelligent, sensible and practical. They are kind, caring and compassionate. Both of them have good instincts and there is no doubt in my mind that they are absolutely nailing parenting. So it’s heartbreaking to see that they feel insecure and unconfident about whether they are good mothers simply because they have some people around them telling them they should do it differently.
Fortunately both these mums were able to see that, actually, they do know what is best for them and that they didn’t need to bow down to pressure from others to change the way they do things. It shouldn’t have been an issue in the first place though and it’s a real shame that we get so caught up in what’s right or wrong in how we look after our babies that we feel we can’t trust our instincts. Which is really the most important thing.
So if you are feeling doubts about how good a mother you are then ask yourself if this is coming from you or the people around you. If it’s you then it could be really good to get some support to help you get your confidence back. If it’s not you then I suggest you politely (or not) tell anyone who is criticising your parenting to fuck off. It’s your life, your baby and your motherhood journey. You get to do it your way.