5 Decisions You Didn't Know You Had To Make
What? You're pregnant?
Congratulations and welcome to the parenting club. You'll love it here - there are so many family members, friends and internet strangers ready to tell you how to have a perfect pregnancy, birth and child, that you should never find yourself eating the "wrong" things, giving birth the "wrong" way or making "bad" choices about raising your child.
Want to start off on the right foot? Make a few important choices in advance. So as soon as that line appears on the pee stick, sit down with your partner and starting committing. Here's a just a small sample of the decisions you need to make:
1. Breast Or Bottle?
I bet you thought it was as simple as feeding your baby, right?
Nutrition choice is an incredibly political decision and one that doesn't end until your child is finally eating ham sandwiches.
Ham? You're OK with that?
So, you need to decide now if you will breastfeed. Sounds simple enough but again...no.
We (and I do mean all of us) need to know the strategy - are you going to breastfeed until your child is a toddler - will you breastfeed by pumping or only directly via your breast. What the baby wants is irrelevant here - we need to know now - pick a team (more on that later).
I hope you're at least telling people you'll breastfeed. Or else you will be told over and over about the benefits of breastfeeding, as if you are totally unfamiliar with the benefits, as if you didn’t try to do it all.
Next breastfeeding decision: will you do it openly? Will you take a stand and go viral if you aren’t allowed to do it openly or will you just breastfeed in the bathroom? If you have a hard time breastfeeding, or just don’t like to do it, will you formula-feed? If the answer is yes, decide now what levels of shame you can tolerate. Adjust your answers accordingly. Use time you might have spent discussing nursery themes and stress about this instead.
I warned you, there’s a lot to think about.
2. Where Will Baby Sleep?
With you? Really? Are you sure?
The internet has so much confusing information about this subject. According to some, your baby must sleep with you or else you risk traumatising them. Other self-appointed experts however, want you to know that even letting your baby sleep with you just once risks having her in bed with you until she’s 10. So really think this through - you only get one shot at getting it right.
While you're at it, you also need to decide on a calming strategy for bedtime. Are you going to let your baby cry it out? Will you sleep train them or will you let them set their own schedule? Depending on who you ask, your answer either makes you a monster or the architect of a too-dependent relationship.
Also, make sure you pre-prepare a few answers for the “Is he sleeping through the night?” shamers. Don't over think it though - just have a default response ready as either way, the person is more than likely to disagree with you.
3. Stay At Home Or Working Mum?
Yes, yes, I know what you're thinking, "Hang on a minute, we've only just found out we're pregnant and you want me to decide on a lifestyle?"
Well yes, we need to know what we think about it after all.
Are you going to hog the baby while your working partner slowly becomes estranged from the family or are you going to leave the development and well-being of your child in the hands of strangers?
Are you going to risk you child not having the best of everything (especially schools) or are you leaning toward letting them become latch-key kids.
Whichever you choose, shame on you.
4. What’s Your Parenting Style?
This is kind of like picking a sports team in that the answer really doesn't matter.
What does matter though is that you pick a side and then defend that side no matter what. Even if that sometimes means leaving nasty comments on a stranger's heartfelt cry for help on Facebook.
Here’s just a few of the teams you can choose from:
- Free-Range Parenting
- Conscious Parenting
- Evolutionary Parenting
You will also find that some schools attach to certain philosophies and weird practices you never thought existed like elimination communication or parenting like a French mum. Google these at your own risk!
Are you overwhelmed yet? Good. My work here is done.
And you thought your biggest job was organising the baby shower! Which leads me to question number 5.