As new parents in today’s digital world, it’s so quick and easy to “Google it” when we are concerned or unsure about something. However, it’s not so quick and easy when we are faced with an abundance of conflicting advice readily available to us. We then find ourselves scrolling through and trying to figure out which is the most reliable and accurate information, that then leads to self-doubt and further confusion. In fact, navigating our way through conflicting advice is a common challenge in parenthood that we can be faced with along with the peer pressure when it comes to our decisions.
Preparing for the arrival of a new baby is such an exciting time for expectant parents, but all the contradictory information can also lead to us feeling very overwhelmed as we try to build as much knowledge as we can before our babies are born. During pregnancy, there are masses of resources where we can find information. We are given advice by our maternity care providers, many of us attend antenatal classes, read books, research online, join pregnancy due date groups, download apps, sign up to email updates etc. Not to mention the advice and tips being given to us by relatives, friends, work colleagues, neighbours and so on. So, it’s no wonder that our heads are spinning with all of this new information that we seek out for ourselves as well as being given whether we want it or not!
We end up questioning every baby care and safety aspect there is. For example, when it comes to sleep, we may ask ourselves, where is the best and safest place for my baby to sleep? Should we consider co-sleeping, should they sleep in a moses basket or next to me in a crib, what about a sleeping nest? Can they go in a sleeping bag, or should I swaddle them with a blanket or do I tuck them in? When do I move them into the cot? Are they too hot, are they too cold, what should they be wearing? Should they have a dummy / soother? What’s the best position for them to sleep in? And that’s just covering where they sleep – what about feeding, weaning, bathing, playing, travelling etc.
Of course, we could just “Google it” or ask a friend for advice, but you know they’ll all say something different and then where does that leave us? Then there’s the peer pressure from those around us that can sometimes make you feel pressured into making a decision or choice based on what others are saying or doing but doesn’t feel quite right for you or for your baby, how do you deal with that?
The truth is though, we can never fully be prepared for parenthood and each stage will come with its own set of new challenges for us to face. When our babies arrive and we take them home, it will take time to get to know them and understand their needs, and by the time we think we have it all figured out, it will likely change again! We will feel nervous, or scared, or worried, or confused at times and all of these feelings are completely normal. There will be questions and concerns that we don’t know the answers to right away, but we always get there. And as much as it is important to listen to and take on board the advice given to us by healthcare professionals, we also need to learn to trust our mothers instincts, to feel confident in ourselves and our decisions, and to remember that we truly do know our babies better than anyone else.
Feeling overwhelmed by conflicting advice or parental peer pressure? Here are some tips that may help you:
· Of course, do your research and as much prep as you like, but aim to take your information and advice from professional, reputable, reliable, and trustworthy resources
· Try to limit your resources too – for example, one favourite book, download one app
· Give journaling a go, noting down your feelings and anything you’ve found helpful to use in the future
· If organisation is your thing, write lists of best resources, pros and cons of methods etc.
· Take a break to clear your mind of all of the thoughts and information, then revisit when you feel more relaxed. Just 5-10 minutes. You could..
o Practice a mindful activity such as taking a walk in nature, feeling the fresh air on your face, colouring in or something that you enjoy that you can focus all of your attention on.
o Try some calming and relaxation techniques such as breathing, yoga and meditation (there are lots of guided meditations out there)
o Herbal tea and essential oils are also great for helping you feel calmer.
· Appreciate the advice you are given by peers but remember that what worked for their baby, may not work for yours and everyone has different opinions and ways of doing things that we should all be respectful of
· Give yourself some slack and allow yourself to learn along the way
See here for more on parental peer pressure: