I have spoken with some new, first time mums and some pregnant mums and what surprised me the most was how many knew not a thing. Now- I know that may sound rich coming from a mum of two, but when I say nothing, I mean nothing!!! They had read nothing, looked up nothing, found out nothing, gathered and garnered no information. Not good ladies...
Of course having a baby the first time round is somewhat shocking, some say terrifying. It shouldn't be, not if you are prepared. You wouldn't jump into a river if you didn't know how to swim?
First of all, get on Amazon. Please. I bought ten books in the first six weeks. I can safely say I read all of them, and then discarded over half of them.
Expecting- everything you need to know about pregnancy, labour and birth. (By Anna McGrail and Daphne Metland). This book gives a balanced account of the physical, emotional and the medical concerns in a week by week account. It isn't too hippy-dippy (some of them make out giving birth is just a breeze if you focus on mother nature and just breath...tosh!).
The Fabulous Mum's Handbook. (By Grace Saunders). This book has SOME good advice. Some is a bit preachy, and some is nice in theory, but you know you won't/can't do it... It does sound like it comes from a slightly manic point of view, and implies that we are all just "surviving" and its all about just getting your through each day. But its an enjoyable read.
Bouncing back after your pregnancy. (By Curtis and Schuler). This is written from a very factual, medical stance. Personally I like that. Straight talking facts.
The BAD ones;
The New mothers Survival Guide, a primer for the first year of motherhood. (By Eizabeth Wright) This does not give any mothers any credit that some of us have a brain. Its bonkers. It tries too hard to be funny and that you will give birth to the baby from hell and all children are just smelly, pooing, vomiting, crying little monsters. Rubbish!
Don't Panic pregnancy book, Tips for Moms-to-be and New Mothers. Its useless. And says some of the most obvious things that frankly if you haven't got the common sense to know, you should not be having a baby!
Only when you read a good broad selection will you even begin to know how you can filter out the bad advice from the good, and find out where your personal views on parenting may lie. If you only read one- say Gina Ford, then you're going to take it as gospel. But its not. Remember- its just one womans opinion. ONE woman. She may have added a whole heap of relevant "scientific evidence" in there to back up her opinion, but I dare some serial killers could do the same if they dug deep enough. I'm not for her personal style, but I know some people who swear by her, so point proven, its horses for courses. But how will you know what course you want to take unless you check out a few.
I'm fairly liberal and my views seem pretty ordinary when it comes to parenting. Politeness, consistency, fair discipline and thoughtfulness; happy mummy = happy baby. Stressed mummy = stressed baby. FACT!
I was super concerned as a brand new mum living in South London when on my first visit from the health visitor she told me a few things, I'll tell you the most alarming ones,
"Baby urine and poo stings a baby's skin like ACID immediately!"
WRONG! Yes- change them often and keep them nice and fresh, but you don't need drive yourself to panic and despair and go mad over it. if it smells... change it straight away. (Not the rigid every twenty minutes that my health visitor told me to do... 20 - 40 minutes ALL day and ALL night!) Thats bonkers.
"Never use talc on a baby- it will suffocate them and they will die!"
Er... only if you pour it down their throat! I've used talc almost everyday on both my babies for sorts of reasons, and neither of them either inhaled it, nor were there ever huge plumes of powder lingering around the house like clouds of soot!
"NEVER leave your baby unattended"
(arguably a strong sentiment, but surely they mean, "always make sure your baby is safe if you perhaps need a wee or a shower"!
"Never beat, shake or hit your baby, they might die!"
(Do you seriously need to tell some people this?!)
"Always use only warm water and cotton wool to clean your baby."
(Seriously!) She said never use anything else. (Never use wipes one said.... Hmmmm??)
"Never sleep with you baby in bed- you might roll over and they might die!"
Are you seeing a theme here?... "everything you do will kill your baby you incompetant mother!"
I could go on, but its safe to say that me and the health visitor did not see eye to eye. Not all health visitors are like this, but if you get one that treats you like the average Jane Bloggs with an IQ of room temperature, do not believe everything they tell you. They are told to tell you such shocking things in order to keep the most stupid individuals from killing their children!
When I had my first baby I was considered a young mum, (under 25), and I was subsequently treated like a retard. I think this had something to do with being in central London too. I'm sad to report this attitude towards me changed dramatically, when half way through my pregnancy I got married. All of sudden I was treated like a respectable woman. I can only say I feel sorry for all of those good respectable couples or even individuals that have to come up against this. This old fashioned stereotyping is alive and well!
I almost forgot about my check in appointment with the midwife for my second baby. My initial registration appointment. I hadn't got my wedding rings on, (I was gardening), and had literally jumped in the car and raced down to the appointment before missing it, without time to change. She took one look at me and thought she had me all summed up; size 6, plaits, hotpants, no wedding ring, string bikini, and dirty fingernails (I was gardening!). She spoke to me as though I was perhaps a deaf person, lipreading. In slow, careful, short words. I did laugh and quickly worked out she thought I was about 16, not married and this was my first baby. Ha!
"You. must. eat. vegetables. I. know. its. hard. sometimes. but. even. a piece. of. fruit. will. be. good. for. you. and. babe. " (yes she did say babe)
Despite my raging hormones I managed not to punch her. I was very pleased with this self-restraint.
My suggestion is read up. Know as much as you possibly can before they arrive and if it doesn't 'feel' right, chances are- it isn't.