Recently at an antenatal class I was facilitating, a returning client, who was attending with her new baby to speak about her experiences of labour, birth and parenting, talked about the power of her instinct and how it had aided her. The room of expectant parents looked bemused but impressed.
The new mum was absolutely right – one’s inner voice, gut instinct or intuition is incredibly helpful when faced with the deluge of decisions that present themselves to us as a parent.
Certainly, science-based evidence is a great place to start with information gathering but may be of limited help. Equally, decisions that are based purely on other people’s advice may not suit you or our baby’s personality, and listening to others can sap confidence. When surrounded by well-meaning voices, such as health professionals or family members, it can be very helpful to ‘smile and wave’, to listen to the advice but trust that your instinct will help you filter through this advice and arrive at the decisions that are right for you.
Ultimately the best decisions are the ones we weigh up using all information available, and come to with the help of our instinct. But where does this inner knowledge come from? Here are some more tips on how you can find your inner voice:
- Take time out! This might be by having a long relaxing bath, practising relaxation, or going for a walk or jog around the park by yourself. Use the time to tune into your own thoughts and feelings.
- Throw away parenting manuals! Often the more we read, the more confused we can become (as anyone who has recently shopped online will confirm, the more options and opinions that present themselves to us, the harder the decision can be to make). Recognise that most of what you are reading is just one person’s opinion.
- Tune into your baby! If you are a pregnant mum or dad this could be by placing your hand on your tummy or your partner’s bump and just telling your baby that you are there for them, that you are thinking about him or her.
- Hold your baby close! Skin to skin if possible. Relax with each other and enjoy the special time. Remind yourself of how you know your baby better than anyone else and by telling yourself that you will begin to trust your inner voice.
- Massage your baby! Use the time when your baby is in the quiet alert phase to communicate through nurturing touch, through your voice and by observing your baby’s cues.
It is amazing what you will find out about your baby when you gain the confidence to trust yourself. Try it and let us know how you get on!