I am enough, you are enough, and your baby is enough
When you are pregnant or a new mother, it is almost like you have a large sign attached to your forehead that reads – “please give me advice about how I should birth my baby.” Or, if you’ve had the baby – “please tell me what’s wrong with my baby, and why my baby is crying.” I’m sure you will relate to the unsolicited advice that comes thick and fast, from all directions. From the stranger in the street, to the colleague at work, to well-meaning family members – some who have never even had children. It seems like everyone feels they have the right to give advice.
I’m not saying that the advice is good or bad. However, the very nature of giving advice whether asked for or not, implies that the advice giver knows better than the intended target. It leaves the receiver feeling like who they are and what they are doing is not enough.
When a mother is pregnant and having a baby – particularly her first baby, she is in a process of emergence. She’s waking up to her mother nature which is bringing out new inclinations, behaviours, new ways of thinking and being. She is moving from the woman to the mother, which is a bigger version of the woman. With this emergence comes new fears, uncertainty and vulnerability to other people’s suggestions. I think people sense this – and hence, shoot their own arrow of arrogance and advice, in the belief that they know best.
Imagine for a moment, watching a child learning to walk for the first time. We don’t give them advice in the form of where to put their feet, how to balance their arms and where to focus their eyes. No, of course not. We delight in watching them learn and celebrate their stages of learning and ultimate success. We trust they will work it out and ultimately succeed. It’s just a matter of time.
Pregnant women and new mothers need the same approach. When we give advice, even when asked for – we send the message that you are not enough.
Pregnant women get comments like;
- “Darling, just have the epidural, don’t put yourself through it.”
- “Mmm big belly, means big baby – good luck getting that out.”
A new mother might hear;
- “Why are you persevering with painful breast feeding, just put the baby on the bottle.”
- “Your baby should be putting on X amount of weight per week.”
- “Your baby should be sleeping X amount per day.”
- “Is your baby sleeping through the night yet?”
- “Is he/she a good baby?” Like they come out evil …..
All of these apparent harmless comments, all communicate one thing – You are not enough.
So how do we support pregnant women and new parents?
1 ) Don’t offer advice unless it is asked for
2 ) When offering advice, offer it in the form of your story – your experience – what you discovered.
- Like offering a plate of chocolates. This leaves the person free to take the chocolate, pop it in her pocket for later, or free to leave the chocolates on the plate.
This is what it can sound like;
“When I went through a similar situation, I did…… and it worked really well for my labour/ baby. Everyone is different though, so it may not work for you. You will work it out, we all do eventually. You’re doing such a great job.”
There are so many messages in the world that leave us all feeling like we are not enough, but the truth is;
I am enough, you are enough and our babies are enough. Reclaim your enoughness