I am a Midwife and Lactation Consultant who’s passion is to enhance a parents’ self belief and demystify the old wives tales from the truth. There is so much confusing advice out there it is often difficult to know where to start or whom to listen to.
We have become a society who doubts our own ability to birth naturally and feed our babies. As women we have been created for this sole purpose and we need to confidently embrace this and have a resounding self belief in womanhood if we are to succeed in passing on these natural abilities to our own children.
For women in the 21st Century it can be extremely overwhelming to even know where to start once they find themselves pregnant. Consider the average 1st world child’s exposure to birth and breastfeeding. We grow up in a society obsessed by media, sex and airbrushed flawlessness. The icons of today are not the suffragettes of the early 1900’s but spuriously famous celebrities who’s only talent is being famous. Our first exposure to breasts are most likely on MTV or in a magazine and they are most definitely not being used for feeding! Celeb pregnancy is often a buzz theme and the images we are exposed to show them “blooming” over the weeks and finally going to a very exclusive hospital to have their C section, all the while glammed up. We wait with baited breath for the first pictures of baby (inset strange name here) and then a few weeks later the media frenzy when X arrives at the Ivy already back into her pre pregnancy clothes. Cut to the ‘real’ woman who finds out she is pregnant and is faced with the many dilemmas ahead of her. Nearly all of her pregnancy will be focused on the day of the birth; which obstetrician should I have, which is the best hospital, natural or C section, what about these midwives and do I need one, is midwife-led care safe, what is a birth centre, what’s a doula….? Apart from buying nearly everything in the baby shop this poor mother-to-be has probably not even had time to stop and think about how her life may change once her baby arrives.
It seems unreal how 99% of all celebs seem to breeze through the initial weeks of parenthood, when from experience we know that this is probably the most amazing and beautiful but tiring and teary and exhausting and overwhelming time of a new mothers life! Why are these women not shouting out the truth from the rooftops? Why are young women rarely aware of what is ahead with a beautiful new baby? Is this not setting us up to fail by giving us a false reality? I think yes. I think we have lost the art of nurturing instinctively. I think that the years of doctors telling women what to do has led us to feel shocked and helpless after birth. The biggest problem now appears that society is so ingrained with these old fashioned ways that our own mothers, aunties and friends will frequently be heard telling new mothers what they should do. “Don’t spoil that baby by picking it up too much.” ” You know, controlled crying is the only way to make that child sleep”. “Why do you keep feeding that baby you will give him wind.” The origins of this information does not come from women sitting together telling real life stories to the next generation, but from ‘Mother’s handbooks’ written in the late 1800’s by male paediatricians. Remember this was also the era where children should be seen and not heard, women had to cover their own ankles in long dresses for fear of inducing arousal in men! How many other books do we still relate to from that era? Why then are we still advising new mothers of these out dated and potentially harmful customs? Should we not be encouraging women to listen to their own natural instinct? How do we learn to listen to our instinct in our technology savvy, career focused, yummy mummy orientated world?