Who, me? Yes, YOU!

This is a totally scary thought for many new moms but it is true: you know her best.  You've known her the longest and are likely with her the most.  And here's another scary thought: this may be the first time in our lives that we have had to take responsibility for a being other than ourselves.  We may not have ever advocated for ourselves, let alone a baby who we feel like we barely know.  But advocate we must.  If we don't do it now, when do we? Advocating for our child is a healthy habit that it's best to start now.

Advocacy is a habit.  Starting now will help later on when the "should" people are quickly multiplying in number, queueing up just behind your pediatrician.  It's always harder to voice your difference of opinion to a large group when the stakes are high than to one person over something that's, in contrast, pretty small, right?  So, advocacy starts now with two can-do's: trusting your gut instinct and relying on common sense.

Pediatricians aren't much different than the post-partum nurses in the hospital after you deliver.  After they learn that this beautiful jewel is your first baby, out comes the instructions to feed every four hours and other out-dated mumbo-jumbo.  Sigh. So, listen to your gut when the pediatrician, your sister, the best friend who had her babies two years ago or your mother-in-law admonish you for allowing your darling to sleep in the BOB when you arrive home.  You know her best.  You really do.  But if something happens and you find yourself at a loss, use this opportunity as a reminder to really pay attention next time. 

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In addition to listening to the gut, what about common sense, when it comes to advocacy? This sometimes seems to be missing from some of the "my pediatrician said" statements that I hear.  For example, if Baby wakes up in the middle of the night, chances are she's crying. Crying is the only thing that babies can do to tell us that something is horribly wrong.  If she wakes in the middle of the night, might she not be hungry?  Makes sense to me.  But ignoring a baby's crying doesn't. Not only does it not make good sense but ignoring a baby's crying can lead to a wealth of developmental -both emotional and physical-issues that can span beyond childhood. [For more details on what kind of developmental issues can arise from neglecting babies crying, see Dr. Bruce Perry's work in _The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog_.]

Let me be clear: I'm an expert in helping women advocate more confidently for themselves but not a medical professional.  So if this post is helpful to you or gives you permission to trust yourself more, I'm glad.  {And please share it!} If it doesn't work for you, that's okay too.  Remember that advocacy is a habit best practiced often.  Using gut instinct and common sense when it comes to advocating for your baby will help you make the best, most informed decisions possible. And who can't use a little more of that confidence??

What about you?  Where do you have challenges advocating...for yourself or baby?

Posted on November 12, 2013 and filed under parenting.