Raise your hand if you’ve heard the following phrases:
“You’re carrying high. You’re going to have a girl.”
“From the look of things, your baby is going to be huge.”
“I just hope your labor isn’t as horrible as mine.”
“You better eat, sleep, and be merry now, ‘cause that all stops when the kid gets here.”
Why do people do this?? Why are people more likely to be negative and feel compelled to share horror stories rather than find an encouraging word? Did their mothers forget to remind them if they can’t say something nice they shouldn’t say anything at all? Does it make them feel better to scare the whiz out of a first-time mom and dad? The person bestowing their “words of wisdom” on you was probably what I call a “Mall Stalker Joy Stealer.” A MSJS is a total stranger who approaches you out in public and takes the liberty of rubbing your belly and talking at the same time. What talent.
Sadly, the MSJS is not your only source of unsolicited advice. The real fun begins when 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 advice. You reach the pinnacle of frustration when you realize that none of your advisors agree! You’ve absorbed advice from your obstetrician, pre-natal class instructor, breastfeeding class instructor, parenting class instructor, hospital nurses, pediatric office nurses, lactation consultant, pediatrician, your Aunt Mabel, mother, mother-in-law, stepmother, as well as assorted books, magazines, and television commentaries. You’ve done your duty. Now what?
Go with the lactation consultant. Just kidding. When you aren’t sure who to trust, trust yourselves. This is your pregnancy, your baby, your life. Parenting is over analyzed anyway. When in doubt, ask yourselves “What would Charles and Caroline Ingalls do?”
They didn’t seem real wigged out about parenting strategies to me and the kids turned out great. They let their faith and their common sense guide them. 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 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.
So, you can smile sweetly and gratefully accept the advice of others or choose to tell them to “stick a cork in it.” Whatever works, but when the noise fades, this is your gig. They all go home eventually and you are the mommy and daddy now. Through the years, parenting advice and encouragement will come from a variety of sources.Your parents, doctors, nurses, friends, neighbors, coaches, and ministers will be wonderful listening ears and will offer encouragement and some 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