It started when I was pregnant, bundles of advice for pregnancy ailments. Most were completely useless, a few gems were very useful, but in the most part the advice was outdated and the fact of the matter is that each woman’s body is completely different from the next so we all feel differently – you have to figure out what works for you. And follow the recommendations as you see fit. Some of the worst comments came from the older generations – ‘I ate and drank anything I liked and my children were fine.’ Well that’s great for you lady but we know more about the potential consequences nowadays and I’d rather not take the risk.
When your baby arrives and you proudly show them off it continues in various forms, advice on what to do, questions over the decisions you’ve made, snatching the baby to tap them a certain way for wind then promptly passing them back when their method fails and your babe continues to scream with discomfort.
Heaven forbid you show an iota of weakness or stress – they jump in, pushing their methods and opinions onto you.
Of course any experienced mother will be completely unmoved by these unhelpful helpful people. In fact, many likely don’t receive the comments or advice because the unhelpful helper can see that even breathing a suggestion would likely end in their verbal decapitation.
As a new mum you’re hit with advice from all angles – mostly contradictory – you can easily convince yourself that you’re basically failing as a mother. If I was doing ok surely they wouldn’t need to drown me in pointers and tips?!
I struggled with breastfeeding, we now know that this was due to retained placenta sending mixed messages about hormone levels. One extremely unhelpful family member declared, when we had visited them with our 2 week old baby and I winced as Arabella latched on; ‘I don’t know why you’re bothering to breast feed, it’d be much easier if you just bottle fed, why don’t you switch to bottle feeding?’ UGHHHH. Thankfully someone pointed out that breastfeeding was better for the baby. She was undeterred and continued to propose I switch for the following weeks, it’s safe to say that we now keep that part of the family at arms length for our sanity’s sake.
In the early days someone soothingly said ‘trust your instincts’, the rest of that day was a breeze – I had this, I knew what I was doing, being a mum was built in, I made this little person – and then after the third wake up in the early hours I decided I had zero instincts and cried as I resorted to a bottle of ready made formula when my breast milk wasn’t enough.
The point is, most people don’t mean harm by giving their opinion, even now as a mum with pretty limited experience I find myself dishing out advice to others on whats worked for us. It’s like a really bad habit. I try to remind myself how much I hate it but in those moments it’s like word vomit involuntarily coming out of my mouth. It’s ok to give advice when asked but let’s all try to refrain from forcing our opinions on others – you don’t know the other person’s mindset. It definitely had a negative impact on me when I was sleep deprived and run down. Sharing is important but only when it’s appropriate.