I had no idea about how judgy people were about mummies, and mummies were themselves, until I had my first daughter, by C-section none the less. And she wouldn’t breastfeed.
Even now I feel that I need to defend why I had a C-section. So I’m going to restrain myself from saying anything except that M wouldn’t have come out otherwise. So take that mum I met at mum’s group who told me I hadn’t really given birth since I’d never experienced labour. Umm…hello, see this baby? Did she not come out of me? Was it the birth I’d wanted, anticipated and planned? (I laugh now about “planning” a birth.) Hardly. But were my daughter and I both safe, sound and healthy? Yup. And that was the point as far as I was concerned.
As for the breastfeeding, I was relatively prepared but it just didn’t work. I’d pull out a breast and M would take one look at it and scream like I was offering her poison. But everything I read said it wasn’t poison, instead it was liquid gold and I’d be depriving my daughter if I didn’t do everything in my power to make sure she breastfed. So for three and half incredibly stressful weeks I pumped milk with an electric pump six times a day, convinced I’d fail as a mother if I didn’t nurse my daughter.
But renting a cumbersome electric pump meant I was chained to our house, except during those times when she wasn’t nursing, sleeping or being changed, so the odd hour here and there. And of course, I also had to feed her the pumped milk, but I was paranoid about nipple confusion so no bottles for her, no instead we used syringes, spoons and cups and finally, when the lactation consultant who saved my sanity recommended it, bottles. And once that was done I had to clean everything and boil it so it was sanitized for the next time round. And then, at three and a half weeks she magically took to the breast and never looked back. In fact she never drank from another bottle ever again, not from lack of trying on my part.
Why didn’t she nurse? No idea, even the lactation consultant was stumped, but I do know I shouldn’t have read the heavy-on-attachment-parenting book about breastfeeding that implied your child would be damaged for life if you didn’t breastfeed it. I’m a reader, I’m a researcher, I know breast is best. Heck, I’ve even written a book about breastfeeding, but the last thing a new, tired, overwhelmed mum needs is to feel as if every action she makes is being judged. She’s feeling fragile enough while feeling her way into this new reality without being told she’s ruining her babe for life.
So do I judge other mothers? You betcha. It’s awfully hard not to. Although I do try to not point out the things I think they’re doing wrong. Unlike a friend of mine who was accused of both under and over parenting by two different strangers on the same weekend—she took that to mean she’s obviously struck a healthy balance. (After she cussed them out.) But honestly, did they think they were giving her helpful feedback? Really?
This week I want to explore the whole judgy mummy thing. I’d love to know what you judge other mothers on, when you’ve been, or felt,
judged, and why you think we do it. In my next post I’ll delve into what my judgy triggers are.