There is no shortage of advice for expecting and new moms out there. Between the internet, Facebook, relatives and complete strangers, it seems everyone is ready, wiling and able to provide mothering advice. This is both the best and worst thing ever. (Because, really? Crazy lady at the supermarket? I didn’t ask about your crazy method for getting your 3 week old to sleep through the night.) With all the well-meaning folks offering their two cents and the genuinely brilliant advice you’ll receive, the best thing you can do when baby arrives is trust your instincts.
“Go with your gut” or “You really do have a maternal instinct, so listen to it” may sound like a total cop out when it comes to advice, but it’s honestly the best thing you can do as a mom for both your baby and yourself. Besides, crazy lady from the supermarket won’t be at your house at 3 AM when you’re actually living motherhood. No, it’s up to you to make the call so you may as well go with what feels the most natural and instinctual.
I’ll go ahead and admit that my gut has ruled my parenting since my first son was born over 5 years ago. Before he arrived I read a stack of parenting books, had plans in place and thought I knew what would be best for us. And then I actually had a baby and all those plans went out the window. Instead, I followed my instincts. When my instinct told me my son was hungry, I nursed him. If he fell asleep in my bed, we co-slept. Indeed, my parenting style quickly became “Do all the things I said I would never do.” Because that is often what feels right for me and my baby. Of course, what’s best for me and my baby might not be what’s best for someone else, which is exactly why you need to do what your instincts tell you is right.
Now, I’m certainly not suggesting you sail a one-woman ship because, in many ways, it really does take a village to raise a child. And it certainly takes a village to support a new mom. Whether it’s family nearby or a parenting forum online or friends on Twitter, find people who support you and your parenting decisions. This is never more true than when it comes to breastfeeding. Learning to breastfeed your baby can be frustrating and exhausting at first and having a supportive partner, family or community is vital. I needed and cherished support as a brand new mom when my first son arrived and I have needed it from the moment baby number three, Max, arrived.