Everybody seems to have an opinion these days. How do you handle all the parenting advice that is given to you by outside sources?
I have to say that this hasn’t been much of an issue for me. I’m pretty headstrong and believe in following my gut instinct when it comes to everything in my life, be that moving to the U.S. or what to major in in college or which career path to follow.
So when I got pregnant I did what worked for me: I wanted to try to have a natural birth with no or few interventions, so I researched on the web what I needed to do that would help me achieve that wish. I settled on going to a 12-week Bradley class with my husband and hired a doula.
Surrounding yourself with a great support group who is on your team is important, and it was easy to take advice from those people – like my doula – because I knew she wanted help and had my best interest in mind.
I wanted to do everything I could to have a healthy child, so I didn’t touch the microwave for 10 months, ate very healthy, and exercised a lot to get strong legs to have the stamina for the birth and did yoga for core strength and flexibility. I think all those things really helped me to have the drug-free birth I wanted.
Once our son was born, I didn’t let them take him to the nursery – he stayed with me to facilitate the important bonding. I insisted on them letting me have him for the first hour so he could get his first nursing session in, and only after he fell asleep did he get the eye drops, etc.
Once home with him, I let my instinct be my guide, not an artificial schedule. I actually didn’t keep a schedule – my son was nursing all the time and thriving, what did I need a schedule for? I wanted to learn from his cues what he needed.
Since my mom hadn’t breastfed me, she didn’t try to give me advice and thankfully also didn’t encourage me to bottle-feed when things where hard in the first two weeks.
When the pain from breastfeeding became unbearable, I again sought out people who would be on my team: I was determined to breastfeed, so I reached out to breastfeeding experts. I went to a class for new moms offered the Pump Station in L.A., and the lactation consultant there taught me how to latch on my son correctly. Her help made all the difference, and we’ve been going strong ever since.
I now always suggest that expecting moms who want to breastfeed go to a La Leche League or similar meeting before the birth so you have the contact info of a supportive, knowledgeable mom or lactation expert when you need it.
Moms know when something is wrong with their child, and I encourage you to trust that instinct and fight for your child’s health. You will be the best advocate for your child, not a family member or a neighbor who thinks you are doing something wrong.
I figured out that people feel compelled to give you unsolicited advice if you are doing things differently — and that sometimes makes them feel like they did something wrong. But making different parenting choices doesn’t make their choices wrong or your choices wrong. It’s not a competition — we all want the best for our kids.
Stand up for what you believe in — in the end only your parenting decisions matter and someone who is overly critical has to just get over it.
I don’t mess with how other people parent or attack them personally, and I expect the same courteous treatment from them.
Parenting styles change over time, and I keep that in mind when I get advice that I know wouldn’t work for our family. I believe in gentle attachment parenting and co-sleeping and extended breastfeeding — that might not be the choice of someone else, but that is what feels right for me.
Children’s health is at the top of every mother’s mind. What’s your favorite tip for raising a healthy baby?
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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Million Moms Challenge. The opinions and text are all mine. Contest runs November 14 to December 18, 2011. A random winner will be announced by December 20, 2011.