A colleague of mine is very close to having her baby. While for many this is beautiful news, for me I can't help but feel a little bit sorry for a new mum knowing what they are about to embark on (you can obviously tell I had a spiffing time in those first few months 😳).
While I try not to scare the absolute shit out of expectant mums with my horror stories (although sometimes they just slip out) one thing that does rile me up is the expectations set on new parents by some healthcare workers (Specifically those at new parent classes).
I had thought since my first class over 4 years ago that maybe things had come along a bit. Maybe they weren't so one sided and pushy.
Turns out I was wrong, as my colleague started to tell me how she felt a little nervous and under pressure. During her class she was told that she should exclusively breastfeed and remain by baby's side for the first six months. Nothing really new in the advice guidelines there then. But when her partner asked if he would be able to help with night feed's so she could rest, they were told "NO, women have it built into them to wake in the night while men just don't, so she won't need help!"
1. I seem to have missed this alarm clock chromosome that all women are supposed to have.
2. The advice I received to take time alone for myself each day from my doctor, health visitor and therapist after my PND diagnoses must have been seriously wrong.
3. What the fuck! Just simply, What.The.Fuck!
I was gob smacked and could only roar 'DON'T LISTEN TO THEM!'.
I felt my parenting classes did nothing but set me up for failure. Although they are in place to prepare first time parents, and I was certainly prepared, it was just a shame it only prepared me for 'the perfect parenthood' (that mythical ideal that only those who are extremely lucky can find).
I was prepared for that perfect birth; The one where a TENS machine takes away all pain, the babies head glides smoothly out of your lady hole with a few pants, and the baby magically latches onto your breast for that first all important feed.
I was prepared for breastfeeding; I knew the perfect position to place a sturdy doll to my breast, I was prepared for the little and often amounts of milk my baby would need for its marble sized tummy (I was determined my child wasn't going to have the golf sized formula fed one, oh no!), I was looking forward to the exercise-free weight-loss programme with the 500 calories I was going to lose a day.
I was prepared for baby safe sleeping; I was trained on the right positioning of a baby in a cot and I was an expert in the dangers of co-sleeping.
What I wasn't prepared for was real life with a baby!
I wasn't prepared for baby getting stuck in the birth canal.
I wasn't prepared for baby to stop breathing.
I wasn't prepared for baby's unwillingness to latch on to my breast.
I wasn't prepared in how to make a bottle for baby or any other way to feed it.
I wasn't prepared when baby only wanted to sleep on mine or daddy's chest and nowhere near the dreaded cot.
I was nowhere near prepared when I didn't feel that new mum joy or the 'baby blues' still hadn't left me after 2 months.
I can understand that these classes are trying to do the best for parents, that they are handing out the advice and guidance that has been created at a higher level. But I think they forget a vital point. That it's not one rule fits all.
Many women are suffering because of the effects of not reaching these levels of parenting. We see them as the only way, the right way to parent, because that's what professionals are telling us. We begin to think we have failed, that we aren't good enough, and I know from experience that that can lead to some very dark times.
The better outcome would be to tell us about our options. Prepare us on the many routes of parenting and enrich us with the belief that if one option doesn't work it in no way means we have failed.
Because motherhood isn't a straight road we all follow, it has many turns. Yet none of us are worse or better than the other for deciding to take a different route to the rest.
This post originally appeared on www./fightingthemumfunk.wordpress.com .