Many new moms are called 'stupid' when they make a mistake at their new job as a mother. But too often the mistake in not the mom's fault. The problem is that there is just too much bad information out there. I've made mistakes, and when I learned better, I stopped making them, and I constantly aim to improve. If I could go back seven years to when my first was born, I would have done a lot differently, though I don't regret anything I did -- I know I was doing the best with what I knew then. I was also mislead a lot by people and things I thought were trustworthy as well.
I've spent over seven years researching and learning about baby care, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and everything involved in my job as mom. I learn more each year and try to understand recommendations and even the motivations of different sources. It's HARD! But because I care so much about kids, I soak up as much as I can and I share that info with others.
For example, some formula companies try to interfere with breastfeeding under the guise of being helpful. They give pamphlets to your doctor to hand out with info that is too often more harmful than good. We all want to trust our doctor, but some are wrong. Maybe that breastfeeding seminar at their last medical conference was hosted by a formula company -- I wouldn't trust that information. Very few doctors actually specialize in breastfeeding, unless the doctor has sought out their own certification in lactation. Some MDs have even been known to say crazy things like, "Formula, with all the added vitamins, is actually better than breast milk."
Instead of calling a new mom "stupid," we should help her. And to help, we need the new moms to be open to advice from other moms. If a new mom is pointed towards a certified lactation consultant for help, and told to throw the "breastfeeding" pamphlet from the formula company in the trash, that doesn't mean the woman trying to help is a conspiracy theorist or thinks she knows it all. She just might be someone who made a ton of mistakes and is trying to help a new mom when she needs it most. Because she wishes someone was there helping her when she was a new mom, too.
Just because a new mom makes a mistake, it DOES NOT make her stupid, nor does it mean she should have "known better." And THAT is the message women try to get across when talking about how damaging things like iPhone apps, hospital bags with formula pamphlets, or other formula company tricks are to breastfeeding relationships. Saying that we don't give moms enough credit isn't fair either -- we do. We know they're going to read up and do the best they can, which is why we want to try to help them make sure they're not reading the WRONG things or being mislead by tricky and expensive campaigns.
If we all decided moms don't need to be told that the AAP isn't a great source of breastfeeding advice, that "Lactation Consultants" often have no training, or that they need to be careful of the source of any breastfeeding advice, many moms would make the same mistakes over and over, and we'd have even lower breastfeeding rates than we already do. We need to stick together and not insult people who are trying to help or moms who have made mistakes, even if they seemed obvious to you.
New moms aren't dumb, and they ARE trying really hard. There's just a ton to learn, and not enough time to do it. Seven years later, I still made mistakes. And I'm still learning -- from research and other moms. I work hard to share things I do know to help moms not make the same mistakes I have.
Do you try to help other moms if you know they're getting bad advice or stand back and let them sink or swim? Are you comfortable getting advice from others?
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