Dummies, breast, formula, co-sleeping, screens, no screens, sleep training, routine, no routine ARGH
This is by no means a medical blog, it is one written from my own experience and chatting to new parents every day in my studio. I am not a health visitor or a midwife or a doctor. But I am a mum myself and a newborn photographer and I have often experienced the sheer confusion and anxiety of new parents having to make choices about their babies and being faced with a mountain of (often contradicting) advice. A lot of pressure for a new parent.
Just in the last two weeks I had so many mums in the studio, all new to the job of being a mum after years of being very independent and successful women. They were frazzled.
"What if I cannot carry on breastfeeding as long as I should?" This new mum had already been hospitalised for severe mastitis.
"I can't put baby down in the night - it wakes up as soon as I touch the Moses basket!" Mum gets about 1-2 hours sleep a night.
"If I give the baby a dummy - will it be forever addicted and not speak properly?"
These are just a few of the conversations we have in the studio :-(
And I so feel for these young parents. It reminds me so much of my own story 9 years ago, being completely overwhelmed with choices I had to make and the sheer responsibility attached to that:
I breastfed my firstborn. Until a health visitor ordered me to get sleep and introduce a bottle for dad to give to him. THE RELIEF! I got a bit more sleep and I started enjoying my newborn. Has it damaged him? Nope - he is a strong independent 9 year old.
I also tried to completely avoid a dummy in case it would harm his speech development and for fear of seeing him walk to school dummy sucking... I lasted 8 weeks, then, I bought the whole shelf. It saved my sanity. He is talking like a waterfall by the way ;-)
After weeks and weeks of ninja moving away from the Moses basket, I also gave in and slept with the babies on my chest. It was sheer desperation, but also turned from dreaded night manoeuvres to lovely bonding time (Kindle and Haribos at hand too). Yep the was against all advise, but I thought about all the other cultures and how we used to bring up babies in the past and it did feel like the right thing to do.
I was adamant that a strong routine was the way to go. And while to a certain extend it helped me - I had to really watch to not get obsessed with it. Specially when baby did not play ball. With my second I relaxed. Bedtime routine - yes. Napping yes. Not going out because it interfered with a routine - NO! Phew, so much nicer.
Screens - amazingly lots of new parents talk about screen to me (although they have babies). It plays on their mind. And rightly so, I think. We have yet to see a generation grow up that is that involved with screens. I have always been very very nervous and strict with screens, but I have learned that complete avoidance just makes my kids obsessed with it and, let's face it, there is no getting away from screens. So we have got them. Limited. But they are part of our life. And obviously the best thing since sliced bread...
So to all new parents who are faced with choices, you are not alone feeling the way you feel.
There is no right or wrong.
There is what works for you and makes you enjoy being a mum and a dad.
You are on a journey.
And the fact that you are thinking about choices makes you wonderful and caring and loving parents.
AND THAT IS ALL BABY NEEDS!
Love Antje x