By Stacia Biltekoff and Terry Landey (from BirthWays.org’s summer newsletter)
If you’re anywhere along the pregnant/postpartum journey, you will doubtless have been inundated with advice and opinions on how you’re ‘supposed’ to be doing it. Given that parenting wisdom and know-how changes on a monthly basis, how does a new mom begin to discern what choices she wants to make for her baby and herself? How do you sift through the mass of opposing wisdom and remain calm in the face of it all?
Parenting may be the first time in a woman’s life that she allows herself to be the ultimate authority. Yes, there are experts who know things, but no one knows a baby like its mother. NO ONE. Which means that you get to be the expert, from day zero. What does that mean? It doesn’t mean that you discount everything you’re told about how to parent, but it does mean that you learn to trust yourself when it comes to your baby. Trust that you have every instinct needed to mother well, that you really can provide this child with the care and love it deserves, and that your gut feelings are usually right. You get to choose exactly how you want to raise this baby, and if that means re-thinking conventional wisdom, you can do it. If it means sticking with conventional wisdom, you can do that too. Literally every single choice is yours to make, which can be overwhelming, but can also be incredibly liberating. Whatever makes sense to you is yours to choose, and if it flies in the face of those around you it is even more important that you have examined what you believe, what you think, and what you KNOW deep down about what’s best for you and your baby. After all with experts on polar opposite ends of the spectrum saying that they know the “right” way to do something, there can’t be that many wrong ways!
There’s a lot of power waiting to be discovered inside us and the sooner we tap into it the better for ourselves AND our children. You can start today by simply looking at any of the choices you are making (big or small) and asking yourself ‘am I doing this because I really thought about it and know it’s right for me, or am I doing it because it’s ‘just the way it’s done’? If it’s the latter then you can pull it out for examination under the bright light of your own wisdom and see if it still makes sense to you. Does it resonate as ‘right’, or just ‘familiar’? You can do this with everything from how you plan to give birth to how you plan on raising your child. Do your research, find what makes sense to you, and then be proud of the fact that your choice has been arrived at through your OWN attention and diligence, and not just because the world around you thinks it should be a certain way.
Developing your ‘wise authority’ muscle ultimately benefits your baby in ways both large and small – exercise it daily until it’s shapely and impressive!
Stacia Biltekoff has been serving pregnant, laboring and postpartum women and their families through her work as a pre-school teacher, birth doula, postpartum doula, childbirth educator and support group facilitator in the East Bay Area since 1991. Through non-judgmental guidance, a full bag of time tested baby soothing techniques and a belief in the inherent wisdom of parents, she helps families to ease their transition into parenthood. She loves to knit, meditate and cuddle with her daughter.
Terri B. Landey has lived and worked in the San Francisco Bay Area for the past 20 years, but is originally from South Africa and the UK. She has a Masters Degree in English Literature from Cambridge University and completed a four year Consciousness Studies course at the Life Resources Institute of Ashland in 2004. She is a certified Family and Life Coach and is passionate about improving and the experience of women during the birth and the postpartum period.