New moms want to feel validated. Those first couple months after the birth of a baby are a very vulnerable time for new parents. Just about everyone--stranger, friend, or foe--has a piece of advice for you. When a lot of it conflicts, especially with your own personal beliefs, it may cause frustration, feelings of inadequacy and even depression. Even though my baby is well beyond the newborn stage I still have random strangers ask me how my baby sleeps. Why does it matter that much to everyone? Why do I never seem to get questions like, "How are you enjoying your time as a mother?", "How is your bond with your baby?", or even "do you feel well-rested?"
I'm not saying that the issue of sleep should never be discussed, I just wish it didn't seem to be the only thing that was discussed in new mommy circles, mostly because I don't think it's a question that leaves most new moms feeling any better. Here are the facts: Babies are terrible sleepers and unless sleep is forced upon them, most will continue waking at least 1-2 times a night throughout the first year.
Maybe it's silly that I feel passionate about this, but after sitting in my La Leche League meeting last week I found there were too many mothers who felt terrible about themselves because their baby wasn't sleeping through the night. These feelings weren't borne from fatigue or exhaustion--they were borne of feelings of inadequacy. Personally, I just don't think that's fair. Instead of berating and belittling the mother who responds time and time again to her child's needs, why don't we celebrate that? Why do we not celebrate self-sacrifice, when that sacrifice is willingly made? I know that for me, my questions will change. I think there needs to be a little more rallying, some more offers to help, and many more encouraging words. Goodness knows, a new mom needs kind words even more than she needs 8 straight hours of sleep.