Psst… Listen to more than just the answers you get.
I was speaking to and getting to know a potential client on the phone. She was telling me about the challenges she faced during her previous postpartum experience and also inquired about the services I provide as well as some baby care questions. This lovely mom-to-be was doing her due diligence in researching postpartum doulas.
Then she asked me a “what-if” question about her soon-to-be baby. As in, “What if “X” happens? What should I do?”
An excellent question, I assured her, but one that was not possible to answer right now. I explained that we would have to come to know her baby’s temperament, abilities, and overall health. Until the baby is born (and then some), we just couldn’t know. This can be very unsettling for expectant parents. The unknowing, the not knowing, the waiting to figure things out, the trial and error, and all the “what-ifs” can be stressful when baby care is a parent’s responsibility.
I offered a general recommendation based on research and experience, wanting to offer some reassurance. She then tells me that she received different advice from someone else she spoke to.
It’s no wonder new parents are anxious. They must navigate new terrain while deciphering information that is sometimes as clear as mud. Parents confer with a slew of varying professionals whose credentials and knowledge differ from each other (ex. pediatricians, doulas, lactation counselors, night nurses, midwives, OBs, sleep experts and nannies). They seek help from other parents, family and even strangers. But are they getting the answers they’re looking for?
There are very few hard and fast rules about safely caring for a newborn. And just when parents think they’ve got it all figured out, their baby enters a new developmental shift and it’s time to come up with a new course of action. But as long as a baby has a safe place to sleep, is sufficiently fed and feels attached to a loving caretaker, there are endless ways to parent. New parents need research-based information and guidance when faced with a parenting challenge. But they are the experts of their own baby and must follow their gut when deciding what is best for them and their family.
I commiserated with this expectant parent on the phone. We agreed she would listen to what felt right for her and her family. And equally important to observe was how she was feeling while receiving information. Did she feel listened to? Respected? Cared for?
New parents also need to be taken care of because thanks to their babies, parents are born too.