We are a society that turns to experts to tell us how to do everything from making scones to finding our true calling. When it comes to the adventure of parenthood, the scene is no different. As a mama, I have found myself stressed out because things aren’t going the way they are “supposed” to go. Many of the families I work with ask questions about the gazillion topics covered by professionals. Trying to live up to an ideal can provoke a sense of pressure, failure, and overwhelm.
Here is the response I always come back to: What works for your family?
Let’s be clear that I am not asking, “What works for your baby?” Too often, I see parents struggling with extreme sleep deprivation, physical pain from contorting their bodies so that baby is comfortable, or denying themselves time/energy for self care. They have become so focused on baby’s needs, that theirs have practically disappeared.
Please set the experts aside, and listen to your family (the nuclear family you are creating, not the grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc).
If you would love a shower everyday, prioritize that.
If your newborn only sleeps well when held, and you just want to get outside, go for a walk with baby in the Moby each day.
If you sleep better with baby in your bed, do it.
If you sleep better with baby out of your bed, do it.
If you are breastfeeding, but waking up every 2 hours isn’t sustainable for you, let another loving adult give baby a bottle for one feeding.
What works for your family?
As a new mom in 2007, I heard that my baby should be going to bed at 7pm each night. My baby took a nap around 7pm, but then would wake up and happily coo and wiggle until 11pm. At that point, he would sleep for a longer time, waking only to nurse and I could get some good sleep too. This worked for our family because my husband didn’t get home until 8pm some nights and could spend time with our son then. Sonny Boy is now in 5th grade and is a champion sleeper.
Recently, one of my clients shared that she had a lot of pain in her back and shoulder because her baby nursed best in a position that was super uncomfortable for her to be in. Even though baby was getting what he needed, the arrangement wasn’t working for mama. I helped her set up a nursing station in her bedroom, and one in the living room, complete with lots of pillows to prop up baby and herself so that she didn’t have to contort herself. Now, both baby and mama are comfortable during nursing.
What works for your family?
This question still helps me. I tune into my children, my husband, and myself. When I slow down and am open, the path forward is clear.
So, Nurtured Mama - what works for your family?
Life Beyond Birth provides support for expectant parents, and new babies & their families, online and in-person. Find a class or contact Molly at www.lifebeyondbirth.com.