Have you ever wondered why as a new mum you get so much unsolicited advice for anyone who cares to share?
From “don’t be spoiling your baby” to “she can’t still be hungry, she just fed!” it just seems endless.
I ran a poll on my instagram account recently and over 50% of mums said the ‘advice’ they got from fellow mums was either harmful/unhelpful.
Why do we put up with it?
So why then do we have to put up with unsolicited advice? I know people really mean well when they give advice and sometimes it can be a lot about correcting their own motherhood experience rather than trying to spoil yours. But it can have a damaging and lasting effect on mums.
I had one mum contact me about how different people told her how to treat her baby’s nappy rash, before allowing the products she bought for it to properly work. Now we all know babies get nappy rash, and sometimes it is even worse when teething. But it’s not a big deal is it? The mum will figure out what products will work on her babies skin and eventually it will go away.
Yet it is these simple interferences that can linger in a mum’s mind when she is on her own for the majority of the day looking after her baby. It can make her feel like she’s not a fit mother and really shake her confidence at a time when she is already feeling vulnerable. In this example the mum even said she is not sure why it upset her so much, it just did. When you are in the haze of zero sleep, a little baby constantly depending on you, hormones all over the place, then any small bit of criticism can massively escalate in your mind if left to fester.
When you are in the haze of zero sleep, a little baby constantly depending on you, hormones all over the place, then any small bit of criticism can massively escalate in your mind if left to fester.
It seems like slowly as a society we are recognising that having mum and baby alive after childbirth should be the basic standard and not the highest we can aim for when it comes to maternal care.
Maternal mental health needs to be a priority
As we get more educated on childbirth and the problems that come with postpartum we need to demand more of our healthcare system in terms of maternal health. Mums are not just a vessel to carry our babies and our needs of care in terms of mental health and physical recovery from childbirth need a serious review.
According to the Maternal Mental Health Alliance (Report: Saving Lives, Improving Mothers Care 2021) in the UK suicide remains the leading cause of direct maternal death in the first postnatal year. Ironically this is also a time when women will have the highest number of visits on average with a healthcare worker.
Helpful ways to support a new mum
If you see a mum struggling or think she might need some help, reach out to them and offer your support in a way that’s helpful to them.
Here are a few simple ways to offer your help in a way that is gentle and supportive:
- When you visit, bring some food and ask her how she is feeling?
- Offer to take the baby for a few hours and encourage her to bed for a rest.
- Ask if there is anything concerning her, and if she answers, then you will have the opportunity to impart some of your own mum wisdom.