Those first few hours after she was born were packed with new information for both my husband and I. The best way to swaddle her, how to bathe her so she’d actually enjoy it, different ways to hold her while breastfeeding.
She was born very early on a Monday morning, and the focus for most of the day was breastfeeding. At one point in the afternoon, my primary nurse was in to check on us and offered to put her in the bassinet so I could rest. I told her that I felt like she might want to try nursing again first. The nurse didn’t even hesitate and handed our daughter to me. She said “well then that’s what she’ll do! Trust your gut!”
I smiled at her and got to work trying to get her to nurse, then quickly unleashed a whole bunch of questions. How do I know if she’s hungry? How do I tell if she’s had enough? What do I do when she wont sleep? Do I need to change her diaper at each feeding in the middle of the night? She calmly answered my avalanche of questions, and then said something I’ve come back to many times over the last 2 and a half years.
“You know, there’s a whole lot of information out there, but don’t forget to listen to your instincts. There has never been a momma-baby pair exactly like you two, so no one else’s experience will exactly fit what is best for you and for her. No one else will pick up on your babies subtle cues the way you can. So, TRUST your gut.”
When my parents give us advice, I listen. When our pediatrician offers suggestions, I listen. But this nurse assured me from day one that my opinion matters, too. That the little, quiet (sometimes loud..) motherly voice inside of me has some really good ideas, and the level to which we know and understand our babies gives incredible insight into what our babies need at that moment.
Sometimes I feel completely overwhelmed by the amount of information that’s available about the current “best” way to raise children. Thoughts on co-sleeping, breastfeeding, babies first food, etc, etc, etc. While some of this information is incredibly valuable, my nurse gave me the perspective from day one that what is best for other moms and babies might not be what is best for us. The things that provide us with health and happiness override what everyone else is doing.
Now that I think of it, this is pretty sound advice no matter what phase of life you’re in. Whether you’re figuring out how to get your baby to sleep, deciding if your teenager should be allowed to go to that party, or choosing whether or not to accept a new job, we could all stand to give that quiet internal voice a little more credit.