Have you just found out you are pregnant? Have you recently become a new parent? Firstly – congratulations! Secondly (and here is the scary bit) you are now public property so prepare for your choices to be discussed by family, friends and the old lady in the doctors’ surgery.
Remember those normal conversations you had pre-baby with people about world events? Politics? Fashion? Hopes? Dreams? Well expect them to take a back seat while you navigate some rather mundane and occasionally judgmental subjects that you never imagined you would have to deal with. Here are five of the best…
1.Pregnancy Do’s and Don’ts
You are blessed with happy pregnancy news! Now expect much discussion and confusion around whether you can eat smoked salmon, drink alcohol or whether you look puffy, tired or plain fat. Welcome to a new world where the choices you make for morning tea are suddenly a very public affair. Coffee? Should you be drinking that? Sushi? Should you be eating that? Glass of wine? Controversial!
Avoid the judgement for a while by keeping your good news a secret from the wider crowd for as long as possible.
2. Caesarians Versus Natural Birth
Whether you go pain free in a blow up birthing pool or have the baby surgically removed by an obstetrician – it is your body, your baby and your choice. The correct answer when someone asks you what your birth plan is, ‘To have a healthy baby’. None of the other stuff is really anyone else’s business and anyone who passively aggressively refers to ‘easy options’ has either never had a baby or is extremely insensitive, so just ignore them.
3.To Breastfeed or Not to Breastfeed
Fact: women have boobs. These boobs were designed to feed our young until they moved onto berries, root vegetables and donuts. Science says that breast is best for babies, which we all know and are told the moment we conceive. Preachy magazine articles, forums and pushy health professionals can give the impression that any woman who doesn’t breast feed must not understand this fact. But breastfeed in public without hiding your offending boob and you may be asked to cover up those teets.
Whether you breastfeed, bottle-feed or do a combination of the two – the main thing to remember here is to try and enjoy it; they’ll be flinging vegetables across the floor and demanding ice cream in the blink of an eye.
4.Baby’s Eating, Sleeping, Pooing Habits
Once you have recovered from childbirth, there comes the New Parent Coma phase and suddenly you realise how many of your conversations centre on basic bodily functions. Discussion around how often baby poos, ‘goes down’ for a nap, attaches themselves to a nipple; can go on for hours. When you are in the thick of new mothering, it is necessary to have these conversations to determine that you are not the only person stuck in this brave new world.
You have a vague recollection of what it was like to talk about parties, new restaurants and politics in far-off countries but these subjects feel beyond you and are surely only discussed by people who have time for such fripperies.
The key is to realise it is okay to indulge in baby-centric chat with other new mums and dads, but perhaps choose your audience wisely and remember that the other non-baby world will still be there when you are ready to jump back in.
- Parenting Techniques
Parenting can evoke the most wonderful feeling of comradeship ever, or it can be a scary place of tribes, routines, one-upmanship and boredom. Somewhere in the last twenty years, the noun ‘parent’ has turned into the verb ‘to parent’ and the art of parenting is now a ‘thing’ that (mainly) women feel excessive guilt about.
Questions as part of this conversation relate to: Is your child getting enough tummy-time? Have they been going to baby-sensory? Baby-yoga? Tumble tots? Gymbaroo? Bounce n’ roll? If not, then with all those hormones flying around, it is easy to feel like a terrible mother with a baby destined to life on the dole.
Take heart, we are all in this together and as long as we pay attention to the important stuff like keeping baby from harm and giving him or her lots of love as well as doing the odd bit of fun stuff (for mums too) then we’re on the right track.
Life after childbirth can sometimes seem repetitive and hard work and it really helps to chat about it with a friend over wine. Sometimes outsiders can be judgmental or opinionated when really they are just telling you what they did or would do if they were you. Take those opinions with a pinch of salt.
The reality is we are all just muddling along as best we can so lets show each other kindness and support as we face down sleep deprivation, poo and gymbaroo, while trying to remember who we are, what we like to do and who the hell that politician is on the news.
Have you had one or all of these convos?