Before giving birth to my daughter in 2016, I considered myself the ultimate perfectionist. I sought baby advice from everyone– experts, family and friends. Once my daughter was born, however, I soon realized there were certain things about raising her that no one could tell me. I had to learn on my own even if I felt clumsy doing it.
While I was learning to take care of my newborn, I faced a lot of pressure from other moms and aunts to care for her in ways they believed best. Being a first-time mom under all of that pressure, I found myself quite confused. My advice to new moms with similar feelings would be to stay calm and learn to trust your instincts.
Before I tell you about my experiences, I want you to know that you or your child may not experience the same problems I did. And only you and those you trust the most know what is best for you and your child.
- The Crying Baby vs. The Calm baby
For five blissful days I had a calm baby who did not cry without a need. I fed her every four hours which was enough for her to sleep well. Once I came home, though, things changed. My nights became restless. My once calm baby cried all through the night. She also needed to eat throughout the night and would only fall asleep if I held her in my arms. That my baby was crying for something other than hunger was my first instinct because she was certainly filling enough diapers. I heard the usual comments from people– “Your baby is hungry”, “Your breasts are not creating sufficient milk.”, “You should eat more nutritious foods”, “Your baby is addicted to sleeping in your arms”. Ah well, I thought, there are worse things for her than an addiction to sleeping in my arms. It was my daughter’s pediatrician who affirmed my initial belief that lack of food was not the issue. It turned out to be colic.
- Breastfeeding vs. Formula
There came a time when my daughter slept for only a few minutes then woke up to eat. It was a little crazy. My first instinct to restore a saner sleep pattern for both of us was to act on a piece of advice given by a family member. I alternated breastfeeding with giving my daughter formula. People wrinkled their noses and criticized my choice to add formula to her diet. “Breastfeeding is best.” “You shouldn’t give her formula!”. I always wanted to say, Excuse me, I know what I’m doing I’m her mom.” I understood that after drinking formula, my daughter slept peacefully.
- The Family Bed vs. The Crib
Before my daughter was born, more experienced moms told me I should always make sure my child sleeps in her crib. “Never let her sleep in your bed!”, they admonished. In my case the first few days and nights after we got home from the hospital were extremely difficult. My daughter would wake up every time I laid her down in the crib. Sometimes, despite all the advice to the contrary, I followed my instincts and let her sleep with me just so I could sleep myself. Again, what worked for me may not be the right choice for you. In my case, my baby slept more soundly when she was in bed with me. This mattered more to me than whether it was “approved of” by other people. Gradually I started improvising on when I’d try her in the crib and eventually she was able to do it just fine.
- The Pacifier vs. Self Soothing
There is nothing like taking your new baby for her first vaccination. Expect him or her to bawl! When we went for those first shot, the nurse suggested I give my daughter a pacifier. But I was a perfectionist and worried about the research I had read that warned pacifiers might ruin her teeth or that they are germ carriers. But hey, my little baby was in wailing in pain and my nerve endings were on fire. Let’s just say — pacifiers can be greta. If your baby refuses it, that’s one thing. But it’s definitely worth a try.
Lastly, I’d say to you fellow moms that, of course we all want to do what’s best for our children. So, despite what all those well-meaning “other people” advised me to do, I found that it was okay to trust my own instincts. Whether it’s the bed or the crib; breast milk or formula; or pacifiers — you too will develop your own set of motherly instincts. Just trust yourself