No More Unwanted Advice – Let Me Raise My Baby
It turns out that becoming a parent is a confusing minefield, filled with unwanted advice. At every single step the whole world wants to give you their two pennies worth. They mean well but people are very often wrong; their advice outdated and occasionally dangerous.
Unwanted advice starts when you’re pregnant
Before my son was born I was contending with the ‘helpfulness’ of strangers. The same kind who think they can just come along and touch your belly. People stop you in the street and let you know you should sleep “whilst you still can”. I knew this would happen when my belly got bigger but I was not prepared for the reality. It can even make you fear the arrival of your baby.
I hate the idea of women going into childbirth afraid. Afraid of giving birth, afraid of what will happen afterwards. Please don’t ever listen to people trying to scare you, just do your research and stay calm – you’ve got this!
It doesn’t end there…
From the day my son was born I got a stream of conflicting advice. I had midwives lecturing me about only using one breast per feed and your baby MUST sleep on his back. My mum told me it was nonsense – “20 minutes on each boob and sleep him on his side” she’d say with the voice of experience. I had people telling me “it’s cluster feeding but it gets better”. Other people would whisper in my ear that it never gets easier. Mums on the internet tell me that he’s overtired and it’s probably my fault. Well-meaning parents and in-laws tell me not to give in to his crying because I will make a rod for my own back (I always ignore this one; I’m a cuddler). I could go on.
Even old ladies in the supermarket stop me and tell me how to get him to stop crying. Wrong again – he’s actually a bit hungry, I know how to make him stop crying but I’m in the supermarket. Leave me alone so I can get this frozen food home and feed my child.
No wonder my head was spinning – with all the things I prepared for when I was pregnant I didn’t even think to prepare myself for the endless stream of well meant advice that I was going to listen to, nod along with maybe even consider but mostly just ignore. The thing is, he’s my baby. He is different from every other baby in the world and I am different from every other parent. That’s not to say that there aren’t some very close similarities but lets face it, no one is going to have all the answers. You need to work them out for yourself with a lot of trial and error (read: blood, sweat and tears).
Finding our own way
Together, we have been muddling through and finding out what works for us. As luck would have it, every time I think I’ve sussed it he has a growth spurt or catches a cold. Here we go again, be back to square one! Stumbling blindly through it all and accepting advice from all directions before cherry picking the bits that seem to hold the most credit and trying them.
Not all advice is unwanted advice. If there is ever well documented medical advice or safety advice from experts in their field then follow it. There is no such thing as ‘mother knows best’ when it comes to certain issues. If that kind of information is presented to you and you have been doing the opposite then that is the time you need to swallow your pride. Take the advice but please don’t ever get upset if someone points out something that could be safer; they aren’t usually doing it to shame you, they just want what is best for you and your child.
I have had some helpful tips and reassurance from all sorts of places – not all unwelcome, but it can be overwhelming. I wouldn’t want people to not listen to the people around them that have experience or professional qualifications but I will say this, your baby does not have an instruction manual. You will get to know what works for them and you. If something works and it goes against the advice of your great Aunty Betty because that worked 40 years ago with her babies it doesn’t make you a bad parent – you are doing everything you can for your baby.