Everybody loves babies, and has strong opinions on everything the baby does, everything the baby eats, how the baby is dressed, how safe the baby is, whether you should be breastfeeding, or not breastfeeding. Is he dressed too warmly? Is he cold? Cloth diapers, disposable wipes, sunscreen, pick her up, let her cry. Even if you wanted to follow everyone’s advice, it’s not possible because not everyone’s advice agrees with everyone else’s advice anyway.
You need a strategy.
The advice from strangers might be the most astonishing to you, because well, amazingly, not that many strangers took such an interest in you before you became pregnant or become a parent as they do now. Now, everyone on the bus or in the supermarket, wants to tell you what you should do. With strangers, the best thing to do is to just smile, say thank you, promise to think about it and try and move on.
With family members and friends, try the same strategy, but remember, that your aunt, or your husband’s mother, your sister or whoever is pushing their ideas on to you are only trying to help because they care. Let them know that you appreciate their love, and that you are thinking about and listening to their advice, but if you are not sure that it’s the right thing to do then explain why and have some words from your doctor to back you up.
The best strategy is to listen, consider, and try to find a point where you can both agree. If you find that you can take something away from the advice, then do so. If you need to offer a counter argument, have some facts to back you up, and be firm about what you want. After a while, your instinct might be to try humour or sarcasm in order to give the impression that you are gently standing up for yourself, but most of the advisors are not intending to be mean. The advice is coming from a place of love.
Why all this advice? In the case of advice from strangers, most people tend to see a baby as something that they have in common with the mother, and advice is a way of establishing that connection. It’s not that they think that mom doesn’t know what she is doing, or that the baby is in any way at risk. It’s human nature to want to share and be a part of the circle of life.
Those giving their advice freely could remember that all this advice can be unintentionally hurtful to a new mother, who is dealing with her own changing hormones, excessive tiredness, and self-doubt of her own as well as her own worries and concerns for the baby. Eventually, though, everything will be okay, and baby will grow up just fine thanks to some great advice and the love of family members.
If you have concerns as a new parent, or WANT advice, contact the Pregnancy Care Centre for more information.