NOTHING is more frustrating than coming up with the Best Comeback Ever, hours (or years, if you’re me) after the argument. Maybe that explains why YouTube comments always end up with Nazi insults — online you’ve got longer to think up the worst possible name to call someone. Well I’m lowkey feeling that frustration right now.
Today my daughter had her 10 month check up. Yep, I’ve kept a human alive for longer than a reality TV celeb marriage. Celebration emoji ahoy! But apart from looking forward to getting her weighed again as I’d been too lazy to do it for the past few months, I was dreading the health visitor. I knew there was about a 50% chance they’d be an awesome, modern, open minded, supportive one. And a 50% chance they’d be a rude, old fashioned, close minded, fear-mongering one. And oh boy, she was the second one.
Despite suggesting that I should limit or stop breastfeeding (I’m gona let that sink in…) to encourage my baby to eat more solids, I remained upbeat and open to her advice. But she was just getting warmed up.
From criticising my use of a sling for being “too close to me” and a pram for using motion to get my daughter to nap, to struggling to hide her disdain for our co-sleeping, it was clear her opinions were driving our chat — rather than informed, science-based info.
Luckily, I give zero fucks about people’s opinions. I’m a strong-minded, well-Googled 32 year old with the best partner, family and Girl Gang I could ever, ever wish for. But this isn’t about me. What really pissed me off was the fact this health visitor’s views were being preached to every new mum in my community.
From teenagers to those with less than a few spoken words in English, there are lonely, insecure, depressed mums who are a lot more impressionable than me. Not only would today’s advice have panicked the hell out of them, it would force them to lie. For example a new mum from India, where co-sleeping is the norm, would be made to feel like her way of parenting is dangerous. Surely that’s verging on discriminatory too? Sigh.
Once I’d realised she wasn’t going to be supportive of my choices, I switched off pretty quickly, mumbling something about being a hippie mum. But if only I’d stood up to her; not for my own satisfaction but for the sake of all the different new mums in my postcode. To open her eyes to modern research. You know, stuff she should already know tbh. Like the fact the World Health Organization says babies should be breastfed for at least 2 years.
So here’s 10 things I wish I’d said to my health visitor today.
- It’s normal for a baby to wake frequently at night.
- It’s good to breastfeed a baby to sleep. That’s what we’re designed to do.
- There are so many nutritional, bonding and immunity benefits to breastfeeding beyond one year.
- Co-sleeping/bed-sharing is natural and safe if done properly. Many cultures bed-share as standard.
- It’s OK if your baby eats more breastmilk than solids. (This was one of the things she said that actually affected me. But after researching when I got home, I quickly realised there was no need to worry. Bish.)
- It’s normal for a baby to need to be held when it is tired, sad or in pain. And it’s good to keep your baby close by wearing her in a sling.
- Sleep training is damaging to baby’s development (she gave me a leaflet about sleep solutions *eye roll*)
- It’s OK for your baby to need motion to sleep. If it works, keep doing it.
- There is no need to rush into changing your routine to fit in with what Western society says is normal. Nobody needs to explain their parenting choices.
- Self-settling is a milestone that many babies don’t reach for years. Trying to force it will stress you out and make you angry with your innocent babe.
And if I may, fuck you health visitor. Mic drop.
We may not be able to change the way NHS money is spent on post-natal care or how and what info is shared to new mums, but we can make the TRUTH known and shout LOUDER than them. Drown out the panic-inducing, insecurity-building bullshit.
Have you come across an out-dated douche of a health visitor? What did they say was “normal”? Did you set them straight or leave feeling broken? Share your story with us WokeMamas@gmail.com or on Instagram with #WokeMamas. Peace.
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