First Time Mom Stigma

In our social media obsessed society today, being a mom is so much harder. Being a first time mom especially because there’s always someone out there who is quick to tell you what to do and judge your actions. We see news stories very often about a horrible tragedy involving a child and in the comments all you see is mom-shaming. “Where was she? What a horrible mother! I would never let that happen to my child”! Please. Go say to that mother’s face what you so boldly say behind the protection of a computer screen. Stop the mom bashing. It’s hard enough without being afraid the world is going to judge you based on your mistakes.

No mother is perfect. We are ALL learning. Whether we have one child or ten, all of us are learning. Each child we learn too, since each one is different. What worked with one, may not work for your others.

Our perception of first time moms in our culture is that they are clueless of what it means or what it takes to be a mother regardless of their age or life experiences. If you’re having your first baby you just don’t know what you’re doing and need help. They’re naïve; they have no idea how to raise a child. They have no idea how to give birth. They have no idea how to breast feed or formula feed. They have no idea how to do any of it. So I must do it for them and tell them how to do it.

It’s like our culture thinks first time moms are incapable of being mothers.  Newsflash culture, every woman who has had children, was at one point a first time mom. Frankly, I’m tired of the assumptions of a woman’s ability to mother based solely on the number of children she has.

Those people telling you what you should or shouldn’t do with your baby or doubt your abilities because this is your first time, remind them that at one point they were a first time mom too and they learned. Just like you will learn.

Those people also place comparisons where they do not belong. “Well by the time so-and-so was that age he was sleeping through the night. I let so-and-so cry and he turned out fine.”

Your baby is not my baby. Stop comparing him to yours or what you did or do with yours.

Don’t let anyone make you questions your mothering. God gave you that baby, not anyone else. He gave him to YOU. Not to your friend, not to your mother, your grandmother, your aunt, uncle or joe-shmo on the street. That baby is YOURS. Everyone around you will have an opinion about what you are doing and they may not agree with it—that’s okay. What these people need to do is disagree, but still respect you as the mother, support you, and follow the guide lines you put in place for the care of your child while he/she is in their care.

Moms, we have got to stop second guessing ourselves. And we have got to stop letting comments of others, whether they are close to us or not, second guess our decisions that we feel is right for our baby. If it feels right to you to hold your baby during naps, pick him up the very second he starts to fuss, nurse to sleep, do it. You are creating a trusting and loving relationship with your baby from the beginning by responding to every need, physical and emotional. You’re not spoiling your baby, you’re meeting your baby’s needs.

Our culture has conditioned us to believe that because we have never had a baby before then we must not yet possess motherly actions. First time mom or not, you have motherly instincts and you have got to trust them, dismissing anyone else’s opinion. If anything, first time moms are more aware because we worry about everything. Being a mom is an adjustment; also it’s a huge learning curve for sure. That doesn’t mean we are incapable, though. We can respect our elders’ opinions, but if we verbalize that we prefer not to do something a certain way, our elders need to respect our differences and drop it. Let us raise our kids. It’s our turn.

We also blindly follow the lead of doctors and need to stop. Doctors practice medicine, they are not experts. They are a great resource and they do wonderful things for our children when they are sick, but in my opinion, they need to stop giving parenting advice. Doctors are for medical advice.

My heart breaks when I read stories from moms whose pediatrician made them feel like a terrible mother for whatever reason or second guess themselves. And they believe them because “they’re the doctor.” For picking them up at night when they stir, for nursing their child to sleep, for bed sharing. For going to their child during the night. Just to name a few. When the sun goes down that doesn’t mean we stop being a mom. Mom-ing is 24/7, 365.

“My ped said blah blah blah, so I tried and it just broke my heart! Is there and easier way to do it?” Yeah, don’t do it at all if you don’t want to. If what you were doing was working, why stop? Because some doctor said to do it? Not a good enough reason if you ask me.

I had a negative experience with my son’s first pediatrician. We were having issues with him spitting up frequently when he was just a couple weeks old. His instructions were to only feed him for 10 minutes then stop, whether he was finished nursing or not. And if he cried, give him a pacifier or try to calm him in another manner. Looking back at this, I wish I never listened. I tried it for less than a day then thought better of it instinctually and after talking to numerous other breast feeding mothers and lactation consultants. Then I was angry that this doctor made me question everything. It literally gave me so much stress I was a mess. I knew enough about breast feeding to know that his advice was just wrong. You don’t breast feed on a schedule, you breast feed on demand.

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Megan Vining Photography

 

My motherly instinct to comfort my child when he cries for me, trumps your medical “advice” to let him cry it out to prevent a “dependent child.” What’s wrong with my child needing me, and me providing that need? Nothing. How many mother’s follow the doctor’s advice? Too many.

We are not incapable. We are strong, badass women. First timers or not.

Here’s a funny concept, what if that first time mom actually researched a ton about a topic before making a decision to do it or not? You know, we are able to think for ourselves and learn. Just because we have never been a mother before doesn’t mean we can’t research something. Instead of telling first time moms what to do or telling them what you did, why not ask them why they’re doing it the way they are? Ask questions.

I am doing things differently than what my parents did but my family asks questions instead of being condescending. They respect me as the mother and follow my lead. I am so thankful for this, that I don’t have to justify myself to those close to me. I wish so badly that the family members of every mother are this way. Unfortunately that is not the reality.

First time moms often can be insecure with their decisions because the people around them, including complete strangers, may have something to say that makes them question themselves. I often feel like when I explain why I do something the way I do, or share something I have learned about a topic, my information is dismissed because this is my first child. Do not dismiss us; we very well may know what we are doing despite what you think. Truthfully, on the inside, we know we are doing right by our kids, but doubt ourselves. Sometimes we seek validation and get the opposite.

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Megan Vining Photography

 

We are capable. Stop making us feel inadequate.

All you first time mother’s out there, you’re doing great! You are strong and capable! Don’t be so hard on yourself and it’s okay if your beliefs differ from the way you were raised. And it’s okay to lose your shit as a first time mom when you become overwhelmed. Let’s face it, being a first time mom is difficult! Even “seasoned” moms lose their shit. It’s okay. Don’t let anyone question your mothering. You are doing a great job and keep on mom-ing and loving on your babies!

 

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