I’m going to say something scandalous, so brace yourself.
Parents, not doctors, are the experts in their own baby’s health.
Are you still there?
We live in a well-baby culture. Well-baby visits are a good thing. They allow you to touch base with your pediatrician, express concerns you may have, and ask questions about your child’s health. Awesome.
But for some reason, this well-baby custom encourages the idea that mom needs to be advised on her child. That she needs to be told how to mother, whether she’s asking for advice or not. At first, it felt like a mom test. Is baby growing on this curve? Is his skin perfect? Is he stacking blocks in a certain way? Ok mom, you pass.
Or you bring in what you know is a healthy baby, only to have that questioned. Have you ever had that happen to you? Do you know what that feels like?
This interaction is disjointed when I come in without a distressed, help-us-please look on my face and am instead sporting momfidence. A conversation with our pediatrician over my 5-pound-11-ounces-at-birth daughter (our third) during her 2-month appointment went something like this:
Doc: Oh, she’s pretty small.
Me: Yeah, she’s always been a peanut!
Doc: Well, how’s your latch?
Me: It’s good. Normal. Comfortable. She eats constantly.
Doc: Maybe you should start supplementing.
Me, as I looked down at my full-checked and happy but dainty daughter: Thanks, doc…
Because of approaches like these, most moms think they don’t know about how to take care of their babies when in truth, they are the experts! Maternal (and paternal) instincts get no credit and in turn, we learn to stop listening to it. Before we know it, that important part of our parenting and our decision-making goes silent. I’m no scientist or doctor, but I can tell you that our minds perceive more on a subconscious level than we think. Mothers and fathers who interact with their child daily, hourly, and by-the-minute are imperceptibly processing little things about their child that no doctor will ever be able to uncover no matter how educated they are. As a result, parents know when everything is fine and when it isn’t. I’ve heard stories of moms forgoing doctors’ suggestions because they didn’t believe there was an actual issue to find that baby thrived anyway. I’ve also heard stories of moms insisting their child be looked over to find alarming results in a seemingly healthy baby.
Moms know when something is off. We know when something is wrong.
My point is not: down with medicine! It’s: trust your intuition, mom! You know your kid better than anyone else and this gut-level instinct has merit. It just knows. And it’s worth trusting.
When you’re given advice about your baby, you have the right to choose to accept or disregard. I don’t care if it came from a Yale-educated doctor, you are the mother of that child. People, professionals, know-hows and family members will always be there to give you information and advice. Suggestions on how to feed your baby, sleep your baby, teach and raise your baby. But always remember that it’s YOU who chooses how to proceed with it. You have that power, and you have the ability to learn how to use it.