There is no relationship quite like the relationship between a mother and baby. We carry our babies inside our wombs for 9 months, birth them and then once they are out we have no idea what we are doing!
Parenting is hard, there is no doubt it will be one of the hardest things we do in our lives. There is no handbook, no rule book, general guidelines to follow but let’s face it, every baby is different and follows their own rules, which we as parents need to figure out.
There are hundreds of so called “Baby Experts/Baby Whisperers” who all claim to have the secret to having the perfect baby who will sleep when we want and will stop crying when we want. Most will even claim to have the scientific research to prove their method is best. In my experience, after spending 5+ years on various parenting forums, these cause more harm than good in terms of OUR mental well-being. They put too much pressure on us and that helps no one especially baby.
I am a mother of 3 girls and they were/are all completely different as babies, what worked for one, didn’t work for the other and I felt like a new mum each time, fumbling my way along, trying this and that to achieve some peace and harmony in my crazy insanely busy life! My motto is and has always been – GO WITH THE FLOW! And do what works for you! Parenting is a lot of TRIAL and ERROR – No parent is perfect, just every baby is perfect!
Ignore all the well meaning advice from friends who say your baby should be doing this or that. As long as your baby is happy and healthy, they will reach all the milestones in their own time.
Babies aren’t meant to sleep through the night, it is perfectly normal for a baby to wake throughout the night (you as an adult wake throughout the night at the end of each sleep cycle – just as kids do). Feeding at night is 100% ok too! It is normal for any baby to cry when you put them down to sleep, they don’t want to be left alone, they would much rather sleep on their mummy, where they can hear your heartbeat and feel your warmth. To give them that is not spoiling them, it’s meeting their needs and nurturing them to be confident and know their mum (or dad) is there for them.
Breast feeding isn’t easy in the early days, we all get sore or cracked nipples. Both mum and baby have to learn the art of correct latch/position. Not every mum can breast feed, so bottle feeding is 100% ok**. Speak with your midwife, local child birth educator, La Lache League or a lactation consultant if you are having trouble. As long as there is no medical reason but not being able to breast feed, you will be able to overcome the hurdles you face with breast feeding with the right support and perseverance.
Do not feel guilty or let anyone make you feel guilty for the decisions you make as a mother.
I have just recently learnt that using a dummy is perfectly ok too*. My baby is breast fed and loves to comfort suck unfortunately I can’t have her sucking on me 24.7 (in an ideal world we all would do this!) and she tends to over fed and spill if I let her comfort suck after a feed. I made the educated decision to introduce a dummy for 2 reasons…she was a very happy spiller and it allowed her to comfort suck. Since introducing the dummy, she was spilling less and was happy to be put down from me. Not all babies will take a dummy (my first 2 didn’t) and not everyone agrees with dummies. I do not recommend toddlers using dummies as they can interfere with speech development. I have also found that my baby will spit the dummy out when she doesn’t want but wants a feed or a cuddle or to smile or to talk with me.
You don’t have to swaddle your baby – I never swaddled my babies and they all turned out ok.
Most importantly, listen to your mothering instinct – if you think something is wrong, get it checked out, if you aren’t feeling happy, talk to your doctor. If you are struggling with getting your baby to sleep or settled, talk to your local Plunket nurse for some suggestions.
Happy Mum = Happy Baby / Happy Baby = Happy Mum
* Please be aware that most birth and child professionals disagree with the use of dummies and feel mothers use dummies in place of attending to babies needs and can slow speech development in toddlers.
**5% of women may encounter breast feeding issues that cannot be overcome and may find using donor breast milk an option or use formula as a last resort.