Experts are great. It’s great for us to be able to look to those who have studied and have years of experience in lactation, pediatrics, baby delivery, stroller manufacturing, parenting toddlers… whatever we’re dealing with, in the moment. Information and opinions are readily available and easily accessible in various formats these days. It’s great to have reliable, validated, thoroughly-studied advice at our finger tips.
Many of us even want to be seen as experts in our chosen fields of study – whatever these fields might be. Some of us spend a good deal of time jockeying to get our expert information out there and accessible. (I know I do! I’m working to be known as an expert pregnancy coach who supports expectant moms mentally and emotionally and helps them find their most empowering way to “do” pregnancy.)
So…we want to have experts. We want to be experts. There’s value to expertise.
And…there’s a downside to always looking to the experts. I think especially in parenting-related endeavors. We can begin to believe that others have the final say about what works for us and our family. When we doubt what an expert says, we can begin to doubt ourselves. If we experience something different than what the experts say is “normal,” we can feel that we’re doing it wrong or insufficiently.
Instead, I want us all to consider ourselves to be parenting experts. YOU are the expert about what works best for you as an expectant mom and in all the subsequent stages of parenting. Sometimes the most empowering action for you will fly in the face of what experts report. Trust yourself. You know best.
Bridget had learned from the lactation consultants provided at the hospital that a nursing baby was supposed to feed on one breast for 10 or more minutes in order to get to the “hind” milk, the most valuable and nutritional milk. That made sense to her, but her daughter wouldn’t eat for that long on one side. The milk would be gone and her daughter seemingly satisfied long before they reached 10 minutes. Many feedings consisted of only four minutes on each breast, although they took place at normal intervals throughout the day. The feedings just went super fast. Bridget made note to ask her lactation consultant and others about the short feedings.
That’s when it occurred to Bridget that although the feedings were fast compared to what she was told was “normal,” they didn’t feel fast to Bridget. They felt normal. She suddenly wondered why she was going to pursue the question with the lactation consultant. She didn’t need to talk to others. She realized that she felt peaceful and knew deep down that her baby was getting the milk and nutrition that she needed. Actually, it made her feel lucky. She got to experience the joys of breastfeeding in half the time! Her confidence that all was well was validated at her daughter’s four-day-old doctor appointment when her daughter was already back to weighing more than her birth weight (babies typically lose a little bit of weight just after being born).
Bridget took on the idea that she could simply trust herself and her baby, and carried this notion with her into her next pregnancy. She didn’t worry about what others were doing or what was typical, she simply looked for what seemed to work for her. It was a completely refreshing perspective for Bridget. When a question arose, she took a moment and tuned into her own intuition, rather than running around and asking others a bunch of questions. That realization she had when she was breastfeeding changed the way she approached motherhood and her next pregnancy. She felt much more grounded and self-assured.
This was Bridget’s experience. What about you? When have you had to set aside what the experts say to allow yourself to be the expert?