It’s not always easy knowing where to start or what to say.
3 top tips
- Listen first, really hear what it is that someone is saying – it may not be what you’re expecting
- Don’t assume you’ve had the same experience even when if their story sounds similar to yours, because we all experience our stories differently.
- Encourage others to think for themselves first and only offer advice when invited to do so – even then, offer it lightly & don’t be offended if your advice isn’t taken… remember, this isn’t about you!
It was 15 ½ years ago and I can picture it now; my brand-new baby son was a week old, post-natal depression had me in its grip and my dream of being-the-perfect-mum was in tatters.
I’d planned to breastfeed my little one, just as my mum had done, successfully, before me (she told me often, so I was in no doubt…) but it was so hard. He was so hungry, and I struggled to feed him enough… but I could not face giving up and telling my mum; what would she think?
On my other shoulder sat my mother-in-law, who was firmly in the bottle-feeding camp, again, telling me often… I loved both these women dearly but had lost track of myself in the overnight life-change and all the black OR white, one-OR-the-other advice that was so well-meaningly given. Who was I and what did I want to do in this so-very-new role?
The answer arrived out of the blue, literally, as a navy-uniformed midwife (one in a series that week) showed up and properly listened to me. Her solution was simple… I could choose AND I could choose to do both, breast feed AND bottle feed… what?! Oh yes please. Why had no-one said this before? Why had no-one listened?
With a huge weight (and myth) lifted, I chose exactly how I wanted to feed my baby; at last we bonded – the joy! – and his dad shared in the closeness too, also taking his share of the feeding and bonding… a true win-win. I can picture that conversation now; that seemingly fleeting connection that’s stayed with me so powerfully for so many years. I wonder how she would feel now if I shared this story with her?