As a brand new mother, I asked myself this far too often. I made some different choices than some of my family and friends, and didn’t want to rock the boat--ok, some of my friends are snickering at that last comment, but really, as a new mom, I REALLY didn’t want to disappoint anyone!
But the questioning…always with the questioning.
Am I breastfeeding right?
Am I holding him right?
Is this the right thing to do when he cries?
Should I be co-sleeping?
Are cloth diapers really worth it?
Is attachment parenting really worth all this work?
Am I neglecting my husband?
Am I screwing things up for this kid?
Did you ask yourself any of these questions? One of the reasons I love being both a doula and an educator is that I get to set families up to talk through some of their decisions before baby arrives, and then I can be there to validate what they choose after they consider the tiny-but-vocal voice they hadn’t considered yet. Because once the baby arrives, I am no longer an expert on THIS baby.
I can only tell couples a general idea of what works for the thousands of babies I have worked with; but no one knows exactly what will work best for this baby but them--the ones that knew baby from the very beginning of their family. Can a doula help shorten the learning curve? Absolutely. But do they know the RIGHT answers? Not anymore.
Now that ALL the parenting questions are your responsibility, it is easy to question yourself, try to google at 3 am and get feedback from a thousand voices on your FB moms group. But what I love about postpartum doula work is that I can take all my knowledge and quietly believe in a family…until they believe in themselves.
And when I tell them their instincts are right on, they often start to believe.
It takes months and even years to quiet the parenting questions in your head and heart. And I’m not there yet—my kids are still growing and challenging me all the time! But I can often see what new parents can’t see. I see the heart to nurture and love a child that no one else shares for this particular baby. I see couples coming together on topics they used to disagree on, for the benefit of their tiny baby.
I see parents learning to recognize that tiny voice inside their heart that says, “I am doing this right for this baby.”
And I agree with them.