"Please don't judge me"
What is it with the “please don’t judge me” phrase? Why do we hear it so often in today’s conversations? Being a parent is one tough job and there is no time to worry about what other people are thinking. To those who offer judgement and unsolicited advice, offer to help and ask parents what they need instead.
I especially hate hearing "please don't judge me" in my breastfeeding practice. I believe that if you are seeing me, it means that our medical and social systems have most likely already failed. Also, as a mom myself, I know the overwhelming feeling of too many options and too many people offering advice. It is difficult to sort through all the noise and find what is relevant and helpful for you. This means that when I meet a mom, my goal is not to tell her what she is doing right or wrong, my goal is to educate and fill in the gaps with information that is relevant to her. She can use the information and strategies to solve not only the current issues but also problems that might arise in the future.
Feeding a brand-new human is a tough job. It is physically and emotionally exhausting. It is a skill that you will be using 10-12 times per day in the first few weeks and somehow there is almost no preparation for what is to come. This is not time to pass judgement, it’s time to provide encouragement and help.
Do this instead:
- Encourage mom by being present. Support from family, friends, and medical providers is a huge part of success. As the saying goes, “it takes a village."
- Let mom rest when possible. Breastfeeding takes A LOT of time (as in 5-7 hours per day). As moms, we try to take the time when baby is sleeping to do the endless chores when what we really need is rest. Doing “all the other stuff” would be a huge help for new parents.
- Make visits short. Bring food and clean up after yourself. Don’t overstay your welcome. Not all moms feel comfortable breastfeeding when people are around, especially in the first weeks. It is hard to figure out how to hold the baby, adjust latch, keep little hands out of the way while sweating and leaking milk all over the place.
- If you are a parent, relative, or close friend and can stay for a while, awesome! However, please be mindful that you are not there to be entertained or play with the baby, although that is obviously the best part. Help with things that need doing so parents can get the most out of the first weeks while they learn about the new baby they created.
- Don’t say “I did this”, or my “friend did that”. Ask if someone wants your advice and if there is a way you can help. I love getting calls from family and friends who are helping new parents look for LCs because it’s not always easy to find someone. This leads to a delay in seeing a provider and makes simple issues much more difficult to fix because so much time has passed.
- Most importantly, remind mom that she’s the best mom for her baby and no matter what she chooses to do, she’s doing a great job.
- Kate Spivak, PA-C, IBCLC, and mom