As soon as a woman announces that she has a positive pregnancy test, everyone has their advice and questions on choices she must make. Will you have an epidural or not? Will you use cloth or disposable? and the list goes on. This myriad of opinions can feel overwhelming, confusing, and even irritating as a woman begins her journey towards motherhood.
Because women have been conditioned to nurture and please others, we agonize over choices, worrying we are going to hurt someone’s feelings by not doing it their way or that we will make a “wrong” decision and harm our children. Society exerts considerable pressure to conform and attain a level of perfection in mothering that is impossible.
But parenting is more of an art than a science. Intuition is as important as what experts say. Learning to be ourselves and accept our choices, whether they conform or differ from others, is an important part of the journey of becoming a mom. The ability to transcend the opinions of others and make our own best choices enables us to become the mothers our children need instead of anxious, guilt-ridden mothers subject to the popular opinions of the media or others.
Following our intuition means we must take time to know ourselves, to nourish ourselves and to trust ourselves; it means we must take time for self-care or the voices around us will drown our own.
Jamie Bodily is founder and director of ParentsCount which provides birth and postpartum doula services, childbirth education and counseling.