If I didn’t know better, I’d say that pregnant couples have a flashing neon sign above their heads that reads “Please tell us everything.” Why else would everyone you meet automatically offer advice?
You have absorbed advice from your obstetrician and ob nurses, your prenatal, breastfeeding, and parenting class instructors, your hospital and pediatric office nurses, your lactation consultant, your pediatrician, your Aunt Mabel, mother, mother-in-law, and stepmother, as well as assorted magazines and books. You’ve done your duty. You are informed. The time you spend in preparation for this new season in life is time well spent. Have fun with it.
The “real fun” begins, however, after the baby is born and all your friends and relations show up in your hospital room, your living room, and sometimes even your bedroom to offer further advice. They mean well, but everyone has something to say and none of them are saying the same thing. Due to some sleep deprivation or just plain information overload, your head starts to spin as you realize that most of your advisors don’t agree! Now what?
Just do whatever the lactation consultant says. Just kidding. When there is a difference of opinion and you aren’t sure who to trust, trust yourselves. This is your pregnancy, your baby, your life. We tend to over-analyze stuff in the twenty first century anyway.
When in doubt, ask yourselves “What would Charles and Caroline Ingalls do?”
Inside the “Little House on the Prarie”, they didn’t seem real wigged out about parenting strategies to me and the kids turned out great. I don’t recall that Caroline ever said, “Oh, Charles, what if we don’t do this right and damage her for life?”
The realities of their pioneer life dictated that Caroline couldn’t hover over the cradle all day waiting for the newest Ingalls infant to need her, and even when he worked two or three jobs, Charles couldn’t provide a home as fancy as the Olsens’. Did the children suffer? “Suffering” is not to be confused with “doing without”. The Ingalls family met the needs of the children and the parents while still managing to serve others. They were balanced. They worked hard and laughed hard. Above all they loved each other. They couldn’t Google “pioneer parenting”. They let their faith and common sense guide them. So can you.
So, when you are standing under your neon sign, you can smile sweetly and gratefully accept the advice of others or choose to tell them to “stick a cork in it.” But when the noise fades, this is your “Little Home in the Subdivision”. Everyone else goes back to their own homes eventually and you are the mommy and daddy now. Through the years, your parents, doctors, nurses, friends, neighbors, coaches, and ministers will be wonderful listening ears and will offer encouragement and some very good advice on occasion.
Trust yourselves to know whether to stick the cork in your mouth or theirs.
Gloria Dudney, RN, IBCLC, RLC is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant and has taught new parent classes for more than 10 years.
Gloria Dudney, RN, IBCLC, RLC