I am often amazed at some of the comments pregnant and new mums receive from both their nearest and dearest and complete strangers who feel the need to share their words of wisdom.
Comments can range from observations on the size or shape of their bump (“you’re going to be early/late”, “it’s definitely a boy/girl”, “are you sure it’s not twins?”), criticisms of their labour choices (“don’t mess about – have an epidural”, “homebirth is so dangerous”, “you’ve got a rubbish pain-threshold, you’ll need everything going!”) and advice about parenting (“don’t cuddle that baby too much as you’ll be making a rod for your own back”, “that baby’s hungry you need to give him more milk”, “you need to be careful she’s not always hanging on your apron strings”). These comments are rarely based on knowledge or research and are more frequently based on old wives tales and a wish to say something and although I believe that they are meant to be supportive, helpful and positive, often they have the opposite effect and mums can end up feeling isolated and unconfident in their ability to make decisions not to mention worried about the weeks and months ahead.
Having worked as a midwife for many years before having my daughter I thought I might be immune from these comments as firstly I thought people would be a bit more reluctant to tell me their views and secondly I thought I would let them wash over me as I felt fairly confident about my choices. What I didn’t take into account was the fact that my body would be full to the brim of hormones, I would be a bit sleep deprived and, like every other parent, I would suddenly be aware that I wanted to do things right first time – an impossible task if ever there was one! So, for example, when people would tell me how small my baby was my immediate reaction was “What am I doing wrong?” and “Should I be giving her more milk?” even though I knew that she was active, alert and gaining weight as she should be. I think that the secret to dealing with these comments is to discuss them with someone who’s opinion you value whether that be your partner, your mum, your midwife or your doctor and then decide if you need to seek more advice or if you can file it away in your mind marked “No further attention required”. Whatever you do don’t turn to Google in the wee small hours as you will be sure to find something to feed any paranoia!