The Only Pregnancy & Parenting Advice You'll Ever Need
The only parenting advice you'll ever need as a new mom comes from deep within, and not a book or other parents.
When I found out I was pregnant for the first time, I sought advice everywhere—books, friends, complete strangers with kind glances that begged to know how it was going. I would ask simple, open-ended questions that begged for their knowledge in parenting, their expertise on issues I would soon find myself in and the promise that I, and my child, would be okay: “What’s your best parenting advice?”, “How did you get through xyz?”, or “What was the one piece of baby gear that you couldn’t live without”. In addition, even while I heard other pregnant moms become frustrated at unsolicited advice, I craved it—I loved to know how other new moms got through this momentous time of their lives.
Eventually, once my first born was entering her second year of life, I stopped asking for advice. I had gone through the baby stage and survived. I had breastfed the first year. She was sleeping through the night. We were heading towards potty training. My child and I had survived—perhaps we even flourished. I no longer sought the advice of anyone willing to share, and even started to get annoyed at those who gave it without solicitation. But how can I blame them? After nearly two years of information gathering, I had become the person on whom you could dump your advice and get a gracious reception in return.
When I got pregnant with my second child, my son, the desire to seek guidance and perspective from moms of multiple children was great, but I opted not to ask for advice. Because here’s the thing, not all the advice I received from my first pregnancy worked for me. Though much of it did, a lot of it was conflicting and confusing. Sometimes the advice left me asking even more questions, seeking advice for the advice that was supposed to make my transition to parenthood easier. In truth, all the advice (that I had willingly asked for) was doing more damage than good.
More than anything though, asking for so much advice made me feel inadequate and doubt myself as a mother. It also gave the impression to others that I wasn’t confident or had issues with becoming a parent, which of course made me feel even more terrified at my possible shortcomings. I sucked before I even started.
After I had my second child, I realized that it wasn’t advice or information that I sought—it was companionship and the reassurance that others had gone through this phase and survived. A mom village to support me through a time of my life that would undoubtedly be challenging, yet unique to me and my family.
Last week, I found out one of my best friends is pregnant with her first child. In my excitement and her joy, it occurred to me that the best advice I could give her was truly no advice at all. We talked about pregnancy cravings, body image and baby gear, and when I felt her asking for advice, I told her what I wish someone would have told me:
“You won’t know what it’s like until you know. But when you do, you’re going to do what’s right for your baby and it won’t really matter what anyone else says about it. I’ll always be here for you, but you are your baby’s expert.”
And with that she took a big sigh, knowing that a beautiful, new road of parenthood awaits her…
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