Posts Tagged ‘unsolicited advice

In the early months, most of the unsolicited parenting advice I received revolved around breastfeeding and having enough milk. Lately it’s all about … standing?

See, Ashelyn mastered pulling up at around six months. She loves being upright, loves to stand and walk while holding onto our fingers. I’ll set her down in the crib or playard, and three seconds later she’s peering at me over the edge.

So I’m getting a lot of flak from people who say that it’s too early for Ashelyn to stand, that because her legs aren’t yet fully developed standing will cause them to become crooked. And then I’ll have a bow-legged child. Once I was even told that any standing before the age of one would stunt her linguistic development.

Seriously, where does this stuff come from? Because my understanding was that it’s normal for babies to be a little bow-legged from being squished inside the womb. And that the legs will straighten soon enough – helped along, in fact, by the redistribution of weight that comes from standing and walking!

Besides, how am I supposed to keep Ashelyn from bearing weight on her legs if that’s what she wants to do? Am I to push her over when she pulls up? Because I can hear the resultant screaming already.

That’s my complaint about this kind of alarmism, I think. New mothers tend to have pretty fragile psyches, and words like that – well-intentioned as they may be – stoke issues of fear and insecurity. Then, in the drive to be safe over sorry, to do everything right, all the joy is drained out of baby’s first year.

That’s a lot of joy to be cheated out of, really.

So I discard a good 95% of what people tell me, without guilt, and I’m able to relax and savour this brief time. I heeded my midwives, I trust our family doctor, and I have a robust filter for internet misinformation and pseudoscience. And I know my daughter.

She’ll be fine.

got milk?

Posted on: 24 August 2012

I’ll never understand why so many heads explode over the breastfeeding vs. formula debate, and why mothers on BOTH sides are so defensive about what is, at the end of the day, a personal decision.

I breastfeed for all the same reasons every other breastfeeding mother breastfeeds. There’s no controversy in the scientific community over the benefits of breastfeeding, especially to an infant’s brain development, although scientific information generally does a poor job of filtering to the public without suffering distortion.

I breastfeed because I can, and I’m thankful that I can, because I know not everyone is able to say so.

It was a smooth enough ride for Ashelyn and me, not that the first several days of latchings weren’t kind of brutal. At the time I called it a “sting,” because apparently denial is one of my best defenses against pain. Ashelyn’s suck was so strong that our very first nursing session left me with a blister. Yeah, on the nipple. (You owe me, girl.)

My biggest thorn in the flesh wasn’t anything to do with the actual act of breastfeeding, though. The truth is, I quite enjoy breastfeeding. It’s my eye of the storm, a moment of stillness in the inexorable 24/7 nature of babycare. Rather, my biggest thorn in the flesh was pressure from older-generation Asian mothers to use formula!

Did you see that one coming? I didn’t.

Invariably the first question they asked was, “Do you have enough milk?” And then some variant of surprise or skepticism when I answered in the affirmative. My mother-in-law (graciously) cooked us food that would “boost milk supply” and bade me avoid food that would “dry it up.” My mom worried that Ashelyn fed too long and too frequently, and hinted at supplementing with formula. And everywhere I turned, the question: “You have enough milk?”

Why, yes. And I know because:

  1. Plenty of dirty diapers.
  2. Ashelyn was gaining weight like the Hulk, skyrocketing from the twentieth percentile to the ninetieth.
  3. Hello, fountains of milk leaking and spouting everywhere.

Just to clarify, I don’t hold anything against these women, all of whom genuinely care about me. (Of all the unsolicited advice I’ve received to date, only one person didn’t mean well and was just being obnoxious, and that was a complete stranger.)

Isn’t it odd, though, that insufficient supply is assumed by default? According to my midwife, a more common problem is actually oversupply. I know of other young mothers who use formula because they “didn’t have enough milk.” Did they really not have enough milk, I wonder, or do they think they didn’t because that’s what everyone told them?