As you may already be aware, I became a mom in March. I alluded to this in one of my previous posts but I’m guilty of having downloaded apps to help guide me through my pregnancy. Now that my baby has arrived I’m guilty again, this time of falling in to the trap of the online mom groups.
The one I would say I’ve followed most closely is a local group, with the majority of its members based out of Victoria. I contribute the occasional post. In the early days of having a newborn I didn’t have a clue what I was doing and felt like I needed some additional guidance. Even as my baby got older, there would be days when I was thrown a curveball (read: every day of motherhood), and I’d constantly wonder if I was handling it the right way.
My baby is now four months old, and in those four months I have confidently come to the conclusion that when it comes to being a new mom, the internet and social media can be your worst nightmares. And yes, I can appreciate the irony that I’m writing about social media on a form of social media, but I’m trying not to overthink this too much…
Case in point: my baby girl started off as a great sleeper. We were getting eight-hour stretches followed by a quick wake up for a feed, and then right back to sleep until morning. One day it stopped. She started waking up every three hours like clockwork and needed a feed every single time.
How did the mom group respond? Sleep train. Over and over they said “sleep train your baby.” I was told I had created a crutch, “she’s a habit waker,” and she needed to learn to self soothe. So, I started googling sleep training, and that’s when I started reading all these approaches parents use to help their babies/toddlers learn to fall asleep independently. I got extremely overwhelmed. “Let your baby cry it out” seemed to be a common theme. I also started reading about night weaning, and how I should stop her night-time feeds so she would eat more during the day, and thus stop waking up hungry.
At the end of the piles of feedback, blog posts, online articles, you name it, the basic message I was getting was: you need to train your baby not to be hungry so she will sleep longer.
I’m sorry, but that didn’t sit well with me. I’m not knocking anyone who chooses to sleep train, or who has gone through the night weaning process. For me, right now, it’s not something I feel I can do and be comfortable with. I felt pressured by the external advice I was getting (but to be fair, yes I did ask for it), and when I reflect back I should have known my answer even before I asked the question.
The truth is, the internet hasn’t been around forever. Information is far too accessible these days and can drive you crazy. Our parents and grandparents raised children without Facebook groups and message boards and we all turned out fine! We have almost become our own worst enemies because we know TOO MUCH!
The internet tells us when baby should nap, eat, rollover, and the list goes on! All babies are different and all parents are different, and now more than ever I’ve learned that the best thing I can do as a mom, for both myself and my baby, is follow her cues and not overthink her behaviour. So she’s waking up hungry - she’s a baby and is trying to get a basic need met - it won’t last forever.
I’m not knocking mom groups; they definitely have their place as they can offer support and words of encouragement. Especially when you feel like pulling out your hair and need to hear you’re not the only person going through a tough time. But for me, when it comes to making decisions about how to raise my kids, I think I’ll kick it old school and trust my gut (and maybe my mom too, she seems to have it all figured out).