First off, let me state this is in no way a judgment on mothers. Each of us finds our own path and should pat ourselves on the back for the good choices we make. There is little to be found in the way of encouragement for mom on the web, and sometimes from our own friends and family. Everyone has their own style, limitations, knowledge, and should be able to make the best choices for their family. I’ve just been thinking about things I would do differently with the knowledge I have acquired since training as a doula, working with hundreds of families, and a personal reflection on my experience with pregnancy, labor, and motherhood.
Some of the things I would have done differently:
- Home birth, or the Lisa Ross Birth Center, a local out of hospital accredited birthing center. My hospital birthing experience taught me a lot as far as making sure your personal philosophy and choices for birth match the place you choose to give birth.
- Hiring a labor/birth doula. It’s odd and funny to me that I didn’t really know what they were or how important they are for the mom and dad during labor.
- Bringing the placenta home, for either placenta encapsulation or using it to create art/plant a special tree. That would have meant far more to me than a Diaper Genie.
- Cloth diapering. I did cloth diaper some, and it’s true the cloth diapering environment is much more easily accessible now than it was thirteen years ago–at least where I live–but I wish I had educated myself more about the benefits, ease of doing it, and the environmental impact of commercial diapers.
- Taking an experienced mom with a similar family and environmental style to help me do my baby register. Why? See the next bulletin.
- Items. Oh so many items that weren’t truly necessary. The expense, the returns, the outright waste of things not being used. My daughter never slept in her crib until she was over six months old. Many of the fussy outfits bought by myself and others weren’t even worn, or were put on for a photo op. In hindsight, my baby would have been fine with some onesies, sleepers, cloth diapers, booties/socks, swaddling, etc.
- Baby-wearing. Yes, I used a sling. We hiked with her being carried. It’s not that I didn’t appreciate having a stroller at times, but it would be wonderful to look back on more memories of carrying my child close to me. Why did I fuss with that car seat and stroller (travel system) when I could have carried her close to me and still had full use of my arms and hands?
- Not using the car seat for naps. So much more information has come out about the oxygen levels being lowered when an infant or newborn is in a car seat. Well, that’s because car seats are meant for car trips! Most premature babies have to do a car seat “test” before they can leave the hospital, and this is to make sure their oxygen levels do not dip dangerously low.
- Bottles. This is really something I couldn’t have foreseen, as I exclusively breastfed for the first six months of her life. My daughter never took a bottle, she absolutely refused, and I ended up being glad for it. Bottles of different brands and types were a total waste for our family.
- Feeling pressured to return to pre-baby body as quickly as possible. I just helped create a life! Who cares if Hollywood moms, supermodels, and society displays post-baby bodies as more important for their sex appeal than for their mothering experience? Those new curves are there for a reason–sustaining your new little one. By all means, lead a healthy lifestyle of nutrition and exercise, but don’t put the pressure on yourself to fit back into designer jeans within a month or two.
- Re-doing the nursery with potentially harmful materials. New paint, new wallpaper, a new little rug for the floor, new crib mattress. Many potentially harmful materials all releasing chemicals into the air– of the nursery! There are many other environmentally better choices out there — you just have to look into it.
Again, these things are from my distanced perspective, in a time now where being green and eco-friendly is applauded and there are numerous choices for safer products. It’s also from a perspective of being the mom of a tween, nearly a teen, who looks back with self-praise on many of the good choices made. I think we as mothers need to set an example more so than being judgmental of others choices. Thirteen years ago, there were mothers who cloth diapered, wore their babies, and realized babies need very little in the way of material items. My suggestion to anyone who is planning to have a baby, or who is pregnant, to spend a little time figuring out what your style is when it comes to diapering, baby-wearing, choosing eco-friendly items and personal care products, and so on. Talk to experienced moms who fit into your ideals, search the internet, attend a local baby-wearing or cloth-diapering class to get more information. Educate yourself; you may be surprised to find something that seemed hard or like too much work is actually the easiest and most simple choice. It could potentially save you a lot of money and then you can buy those adorable outfits to dress your baby in for precious photo memories.
Leave a comment if you would like to share what you would have done differently.
All Rights Reserved, Kimberly Sebeck, Knoxville Doula