Mother’s gut

Experts, research and parenting style. DO they make you happy and confident? If not maybe time to trust your own instinct instead.

If you have internet access and minimal interest in parenting methods you know that the number of experts, theories and research to back everyone up is overwhelming. What’s more, it’s impossible to fit one method to every family, I’d even say that it’s impossible to fit a full method to one family because the hypothetical family from experts philosophies doesn’t exist.

Families are all different, with so many challenges and personalities. Children are all different. Parents of more than one know it best – it is so rarely possible to raise both children the same way with same effects. Yet, experts try to convince us they have solution for everything that their way of thinking will sort out every parents problem with every child. They all contradict one another, it is scary that they are all basing their theories on research or backing it up with research only proving that science can’t help much with parenting: number of variables is simply infinite.

Not believing the experts 100% is how I do understand parents who identify themselves with gentle parenting but use CIO method for sleep training or choose to breastfeed but not agree with attachment parenting. This is why we should all go back to basics and start using the best method every mother is armed with – intuition.

The only problem is intuition can be confused with so many things, e.g. parents needs. In theory there’s nothing wrong with it. A child must accept that it is a part of family and, later, society. But there’s a limit to everything, extremes are never good. Parenthood requires compromises and sacrifices.

Intuition works when we take time and patience to get to know our children, respect them, respect ourselves and our families. Only when we take time and tune into our child. Only then can we rely on our intuition.

It is very hard to rely on intuition these days. Ironically it’s much more difficult for educated women, those lacking self confidence and those who need to know everything. Education brings knowledge and hunger for knowledge. Educated women need reasoning, ask questions and have doubts. The more they read, them more they dig, the more they know, the more confused they become. They realize they can/t rely on knowledge when it comes to parenthood, it may cause panic attack!

I was like that during my pregnancy and first 6 months (or so) after Z. was born. It made me insane. I was unsure of everything, had questions about everything. Had no idea how mothers functioned ages ago without pediatricians available 24/7, internet and instant access to other moms knowledge via smartphones, playgroups etc.

I don’t remember what happened but a day came when I had enough. Stopped listening to experts. I choose people I could trust. It’s not that I divide parents into good and bad, it’s just that some match my lifestyle, and my parenting style, better than others. After few weeks I started becoming confident. I accepted that the perfect parent and perfect method simply don’t exist. I also accepted that having doubts is normal – it’s all about how you deal with them.

Stop beating yourself up. Trust your gut!

But maybe it’s just me. Maybe you find experts advice helpful.
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Tolerance, part 1

I was writing this post at midnight with brain full of thoughts, heart full of good will but mind so tired the post turned out not saying what I had meant. I am very sorry if it offended anyone, the purpose was opposite. I mean for mothers to become more assured in their decisions, more informed and more respectful towards one another. I hope re-editing will successfully put my thoughts into words.

Breastfeeding vs bottle feeding, natural birth vs C-section, vaccinations.

These are main topics mothers argue about. These are differences, not denying that, but should they really result in, sometimes very aggressive, discussions? You’d think well informed, educated, thus tolerant mothers should not fight over baby milk and birth protocols, yet they do.

Both sides are to blame. Each feels, it’s better than the other. The reality is, it’s not those topics that make us good or bad mums The reality is, there should be no fighting over what science has already solved. Mothers should accept, there’s more than scientific facts when making decisions. We make choices based on medical facts, emotions, family situation, our needs as social human beings. Each mother and her situation is different, you may breastfeed your baby till she’s 3 years old, but this other woman you’re criticizing for bottle feeding her 3 month old may have her reasoning, she has a different life and child than you. Nobody means causing any harm. We all do our best.

But let’s establish some facts:

Formula milk is not as good as breast milk (talking about healthy mum and healthy baby situation). For so many reasons: antibodies, unique composition for every baby, and so on. I don’t mean to offend anyone or make any mother feel bad or guilty. Bottle feeding mums are not bad! They are not even tiny bit worse than breastfeeding mums and anybody who even thinks differently is simply a bad person. Both bottle and breastfeeding mums do what’s best for them and their children. They deserve the same respect. I do understand why a woman can choose a bottle over breast, it’s not even a choice sometimes and so many judgmental women seem to forget that. I am happy that formula exists to help mums out.  Working mums need it, sick babies need it, abandoned babies need it, and so many more women and babies need it. Not every mum enjoys BF, not every mum gets help and the support essential at the beginning of BF, some mums need their social lives back to feel good (happy mum=happy baby). The world without formula would be a very complicated place for mums around the globe.

For all these reasons it is truly amazing that formula milk was invented. Yet, it does not make it as good as breast milk. Formula is not unhealthy, harmful or bad in any other way. It’s just not as good as healthy mum’s breastmilk and we should all just accept that. People are entitled to their beliefs and opinions, but I cannot understand and accept ignorance and pursuing fight with scientific facts with beliefs. If you chose formula, don’t go around saying it’s as good as breast, don’t use silly arguments. Be honest.

To be fair. Breastfeeding mums should accept that it may be uncomfortable for a stranger to sit next to you while you breastfeed in public, especially when you’re showing a lot. It is possible to nurse without the cover without making people around uncomfortable, it just takes some practice. They should also accept that it may be weird for a lot of people when they see a 2 year old nursing or 3 year old asking for a booby. Breastfeeding mums have to also accept that they are not any better than their bottle feeding friends. It’s not breastfeeding that makes a good mother. It’s surely great you managed to nurse your child for several months or more, but it’s not heroic. So many breastfeeding mothers act in a way that makes others feel bad and guilty. Mums should be a supportive community, not a bunch of angry witches.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with C-section for medical reasons. C-section saves lives of mums and children every day. Medicine made birth more safe and bearable. Without medicine/science the day my daughter was born could become the worst day of my life, but I didn’t even realize it until she was one week old, pink and healthy, because that’s when I read more about what had happened during my labor. I’m not one of those people saying we should go back to caves and heal our bodies with herbs. We need medicine, we need research to do so much more! At the same time we have to accept, every drug we take, every medical procedure we go through bears risks. If you chose C-section without any medical reasons, you have to accept there are some risks involved and you will be deprived of some physiological benefits of vaginal birth. Research has already proven that children born via C-section are in higher risk of, for example, developing allergies. C-section is a surgery. Would you have your appendix removed just in case there’s an inflammation in few years? Surgeries should not be performed just so, just for fun, just in case. Surgeries are always dangerous and anesthesia has negative influence on our bodies. Surgeries are for medical problems not for fear or time management. Natural birth is also risky but healthier for the baby – for her lungs, for her immune system and so much more. It’s also better for the mum (check here). These are the facts. You gave birth by C-section because you chose to, not because you had to? Fine. I respect your decision, you had your motives. I am very happy it all ended good for you, but don’t argue with science. If you want to be respected, be honest. Accept your choice and don’t make an angry face when you hear vaginal birth is better. It is. Period. But it does not make you a worse mother, a worse human being. C-sections mum are as great, awesome, loving parents as natural birth giving mothers. I have no doubts. It’s just making them guilty, makes them using silly arguments against scientific findings. So please, let’s not make each other feel bad with our decisions, or worse – feel guilty. It won’t result in anything good. I also don’t understand why vaginal birth group is often so aggressive towards C-section. Is it the silly jealousy of shorter labor, of having courage to make a different choice? Is it the feeling of being better (why?). Wouldn’t it be nicer to accept others’ choices even if science tells us which option is healthier? Medicine only concentrates on medical point of view, it rarely takes into account motives behind decision-making, emotions, family situation, careers, work-life balance and so many more reasons that are behind our choices.

Vaccinations. Oh lala. They save lives, they are needed, risks are minimal. It’s a huge topic. Please, for the sake of your child – vaccinate (I invite you to watch a youtube video that will explain my position on this issue much better than I can). I totally stand by science here, but I do understand that despite understanding the research, some people may decide not to vaccinate. Can we please argue nicely? Can we please RESPECT the beliefs and opinions of others? We should also remember that very often one research contradicts the other. That so many questions are yet to be answered, so many questions have more than 1 answer, and others have no clear answer.

I’m not arguing with opinions and beliefs. Everybody’s entitled to have them. My point is, there’s no fighting solid facts with beliefs, it does not make any sense. We all make choices, not to make the world feel happy, but for ourselves, for our children. Nobody means causing any harm. We all do our best. I wish mothers were a strong, supportive community, where differences exist alongside with peace and acceptance, with respect to other people’s feelings. I wish for a group where a mum-in-doubt switching to bottle feeding will hear she’s great and doing the right thing. Facts are facts but it doesn’t mean we can forget about respecting an individual who chooses differently. Research is not the whole answer.

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