Have you ever thought about where so much of the stress and frustration comes from in motherhood? More often than not it comes from your baby or child not behaving in the way that you expect them to. Or more than that, the way that your family and friends tell you that your baby or child should be behaving.
Think about it. From day one, people ask about how your baby is eating and sleeping. Now this is often well intended but it right away puts pressure on new parents who may be “struggling”. Now we say struggling in quotations because when it comes to eating and sleeping, the standard seems to be the ideal case and not the typical.
If her baby is struggling to latch (which can often be the case with a lot of newborns) mom might feel like she is struggling, instead of dealing with the typical or expected learning curve. Breastfeeding is a very natural way to feed your baby, but it being natural does not mean it comes naturally to everyone. It takes some adjustment and learning on both mom and baby’s parts to figure out exactly how to make it work.
If her baby is waking up at night, which again is normal and to be expected, mom may feel like she’s doing something wrong, not that she’s experiencing typical baby sleep.
Fast forward to toddlerhood. These little ones begin to grab, bite, hit, and do other things that mama might prefer they didn’t do. She shifts her mentality to what am I doing wrong instead of seeing them as immature, impulsive people who simply lack the self control and mixed feelings to behave any differently.
So why is it that so many mamas feel the burden of these expectations? Where do they all come from? Aside from doctors and family members, a lot of these unrealistic expectations come from the sleep and parenting industry, which traditionally take a behaviorist approach instead of a developmental one.
We want everyone to really take a step back and understand that the way A LOT of these sleep “experts” make money is by convincing families they have a problem that only they have to answer to. Whether it’s a blogger, author, or sleep consultant, we see it over and over again that they’re putting out unrealistic expectations on teeny tiny babies, which does nothing for parents’ mental health other than make them feel like they’re failing their babies.
Now think about how much easier life would be for a new mom if we told her from before her baby arrived that feeding may be challenging, because it is for a lot of families. If we told her that her baby will likely not sleep through the night in the first year of life, but that is a design feature, not a flaw. If we helped her to view her children in their current state and capacity and to adjust her expectations to what is fair, reasonable and realistic to expect from her children.
We might shift from moms feeling alone and isolated in their struggles and move toward moms who understand and accept their challenges as something all families go through and just a season in their lives. They may work with their baby instead of against them. They may go back to trusting their instincts because they really understand their babies’ true needs and abilities.
So let’s change the conversation. What should you expect? Let’s connect and support new mamas. Join our Virtual Mama Group
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