Dr. Amy’s top 10 birth affirmations

Golden top 10 on podium. 3D icon isolated on white background

Natural childbirth and homebirth advocates employ birth affirmations as a form of magical thinking. They appear to believe that if they just wish hard enough, they can affect the likelihood of the unmedicated vaginal birth that they are supposed to want.

I’m offering my birth affirmations for a very different reason. These affirmations have nothing to do with a specific type of birth, which cannot be affected by affirmations in any case, and everything to do with a mother’s physical health, the health of her baby and, above all, a mother’s mental health.

1. It makes no difference how my baby is born.

I can guarantee that over the course of your son or daughter’s childhood, you will have many occasions to ponder how your actions impact your child’s life and you will second guess yourself many times, wondering if you had handled a specific situation differently might your child have been happier or more successful. I can also guarantee that whether your baby was born vaginally or by C-section will NEVER be one of them. It will make absolutely, positively no difference to your child how he or she emerged from your womb (or, in the case of an adopted child, even if he or she emerged from your womb). There is no reason for you to worry or obsess about how your baby is born.

2. There is no reason for me to suffer.

Some lucky women have a manageable amount of pain in labor and don’t need any relief. Most, however, have an unmanageable amount of pain and desperately seek relief. There is NO REASON to forgo pain relief when you are in pain. It is not safer, healthier or better in any way for your baby or for you to withstand hours of excruciating pain.

3. I am not in competition with other women.

Admittedly this is hard to believe when your friends, acquaintances and casual strangers demand details of your birth so they can compare their “performance” to your “performance,” but it’s true. It’s nobody’s business how you choose to give birth to your child and they don’t deserve to comment upon or even to know those private details.

Childbirth is not a performance that ought to be rated or compared. Childbirth is a bodily function like vision. Sometimes it works well; sometimes it needs help. No one judges women who wear glasses or contacts for nearsightedness even though their eyes don’t work “as nature intended.” Nearsightedness just happens, is no one’s fault and implies nothing about the overall health or quality of a woman’s body. Similarly, childbirth complications just happen, are no one’s fault and imply nothing about the overall health or quality of a woman’s body.

4. I am not guaranteed a healthy baby, so I need to consult with the professionals who can help me ensure my baby’s health.

Human reproduction, like all reproduction, has a high degree of “wastage,” which is another way of saying that death is a common complication of pregnancy. For example, 1 in 5 established pregnancies will end in miscarriage. No amount of wishing and hoping will change that. Similarly, in nature, nearly 10% of pregnancies will end in the death of the baby, the mother or both. Fortunately, the interventions of modern obstetrics can prevent the vast majority of those deaths, but only if you avail yourself of those interventions and the expertise of the people trained to use them.

5. I will not trust birth, because birth is not trustworthy.

Trusting birth makes about as much sense as trusting vision. No amount of trusting will prevent nearsightedness, so refusing eye exams in favor of trusting vision is stupid in the extreme. That goes double for childbirth, which is far more deadly than nearsightedness.

6. I will carefully analyze the motives of those who declare that any particular way of giving birth is “better” than any other.

When you take the time to analyze the advice and recommendations of “birth workers” like midwives, doulas and childbirth educators, ask yourself if they profit when you follow their advice. That does not mean that their advice is necessarily wrong, but it can and too often does compromise their recommendations. Instead of recommending what is good for you and your baby, they may be recommending what is good for their wallet.

Similarly, you should analyze the advice and recommendations of friends and acquaintance looking at how they benefit if you do what they suggest. Are they anxious for you to validate their birth choices by making the same choices? If so, feel free to ignore them.

7. I will not take pregnancy advice or care from anyone who won’t take responsibility for that advice or care.

If a homebirth midwife doesn’t carry insurance, and makes you sign a document declaring that the responsibility for any and all outcomes in yours, she is signaling that even she doesn’t believe that she is educated enough or trained enough to take responsibility your baby’s life or for your life. Real professionals take legal and ethical responsibility for their work; amateurs and hobbyists never do.

8.My baby does not care whether he or she is breastfed or bottlefed.

It makes literally no difference to the baby how he or she gets fed, only that he or she gets fed. Yes, breastfeeding does have some advantages, but those advantages are small and in industrialized countries those benefits are trivial.

9. Both the baby’s needs and my needs matter when it comes to infant feeding.

Yes, breastfeeding can be difficult and stressful in the first few days and weeks, and it is great to persevere through those difficulties if breastfeeding is important to you. But the baby’s hunger and suffering count for a lot, and if you feel your baby is suffering from hunger, you should feel free to feed the baby formula. Your pain and suffering count, too. If your nipples are raw and bleeding, if you have horrible pain when nursing, if you start crying every time the baby cries with hunger, dreading nursing, it is perfectly healthy and acceptable to use formula instead, either for supplementing or exclusively.

10. I will not judge my mothering by the performance of my body.

You mother with your entire body. Your arms hold and embrace your children. Your hands guide. Your lips kiss. Your brain plans and worries, and your metaphorical heart loves your child. Your uterus, vagina and breasts are trivial when compared to the other body parts, so it makes no sense to judge your mothering by whether you had a vaginal birth or breastfed your children.

Mothering is hard. I know; I have four children and I have spent countless hours caring and worrying, wishing I could carry their burdens, smooth their paths, and absorb their hurts. My children are adults now, and no doubt there are many things that they think I could have done better, but they never, ever give any thought to their route of delivery or to whether or for how long they are breastfed.

Mothering small children (and older children) is hard and you will undoubtedly have regrets and wish you had done some things differently, but the way that you gave birth and the way that your fed your infant aren’t among them. Don’t judge yourself on these issues, and don’t let anyone judge you. It simply doesn’t matter.

59 Responses to “Dr. Amy’s top 10 birth affirmations”

  1. Rozmin
    August 8, 2014 at 5:57 pm #

    I almost cried when I read the affirmations about feeding. I read the research on infant feeding during my pregnancy. I am a scientist by profession, and am comfortable reading the research papers directly, instead of hyped news articles. So I know what the research says. I *know* that you are right, that the breastfeeding benefits are small, and that formula is perfectly safe and babies thrive on it. Additionally, I suspected during pregnancy that I may have breastfeeding problems. I have PCOS and slight breast hypoplasia. I’ve never been tested for IGT, but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn I have it. So, all I’m saying is, I thought I was prepared to fail at exclusive breastfeeding. And I was sure I’d be ok with that. But I wasn’t. The propaganda gets to you, even when you know that’s what it is. I never made more than 50% of what my baby needed. Now I’m ok with it. But in the early days of my child’s life, I wasn’t. I tried everything that I was supposed to try to fix my supply. It was unreasonable and irrational. The money I spent, the medicines/herbs I took….there was no logic behind that, just emotion. But I guess that is the goal of propaganda, to provoke people to make decisions emotionally and not rationally. Now that I’m exclusively formula feeding and ok with it, I really wonder what came over me then. And I want to go back in time and hit myself over the head. I let the nurses in the “baby friendly hospital” I gave birth in starve my daughter for 4 days. I remember timidly suggesting, “Maybe we should give her some formula?” This suggestion was brushed aside, and I was reassured I’d make milk soon, and enough. It never happened. And I KNEW it may never happen. My daughter is doing great now so I try not to beat myself up about it, but I will always regret that I didn’t stand up for her then. I hope that future moms read your list, and stand up for themselves and their babies when confronted with situations like ours. Especially when it comes to lactivism, it can happen even in hospitals with properly trained medical providers.

  2. Ducky7
    August 7, 2014 at 12:53 am #

    This is amazing, Amy. Thank you for these clear, evidence-based affirmations.

  3. Beth S
    August 6, 2014 at 4:23 am #

    OT but kinda not: There was an article on Yahoo yesterday about NCB and homebirth in particular and while the story was…interesting I was encouraged by the comments. Except for the rare woo-influenced mother touting CPMs and Ina May there were a lot of comments pretty much saying that homebirth is nuts and that it’s the medicalization of childbirth that has made the decisions we can make today possible. One even cited this website.

  4. KarenJJ
    August 6, 2014 at 2:53 am #

    One my hypnobirthing midwife instructor said to me:
    “Don’t do anything silly. Trust your medical team, you chose them for a reason”.

    My obgyn “I have two patients whose lives I need to take into consideration when you give birth”. It honestly hadn’t really occurred to me that either my baby’s or my life could possibly be in any danger…

    These were both exactly what I needed to hear. Anxiety about medical procedures and hospitals is perfectly understandable – but please realise that the internet is full of scare stories and fear-mongering of hospitals. Relaxing and breathing helped me to calm my nerves when my daughter’s birth was going pear-shaped (so the hypnobirthing turned out to be useful for that even though it’s pain relief was nothing) and being able to put my trust into the people with the machines that go “ping” was very important for my own mental health when I gave birth in the hospital.

  5. MaineJen
    August 6, 2014 at 1:25 am #

    “If a homebirth midwife doesn’t carry insurance, and makes you sign a document declaring that the responsibility for any and all outcomes in yours, she is signaling that even she doesn’t believe that she is educated enough or trained enough to take responsibility your baby’s life or for your life.” This is crucial for people to understand. Some would have people believe that doctors must carry insurance because they are afraid of getting sued, and it is expensive because insurance companies are greedy.

    Real health care providers carry malpractice insurance because they do NOT expect a bad outcome, and they recognize that if a bad outcome occurs, then something went horribly wrong somewhere along the line, and the ultimate responsibility lies with them, the provider. Shifting the responsibility for a bad outcome to the patient is a tacit acknowledgement that “Meh, a bad outcome could happen, and that’s the chance you’re taking when you sign on with me.” That’s chilling.

    • Beth S
      August 6, 2014 at 4:39 am #

      I’m lucky, I live in a state where the woo is more often laughed at than not, and CPMs are illegal. There is however a small crunchy community that likes to remind people that hospitals make you sign waivers when you check in because they’re used to bad outcomes. I just shake my head and say no they make you sign waivers because they’re used to good outcomes, and even when you sign the waiver, you can still sue the doctor. Especially in birth injury cases where a mother can sign her right to sue away but not those of her child.

      • fiftyfifty1
        August 6, 2014 at 9:53 am #

        Wow, the hospital makes you sign a waiver?! Our hospitals do nothing of the sort. When we do a procedure, we go over the risks and benefits and then have them sign a paper that says we covered that info, but it’s not something saying they won’t or can’t sue (which you can’t enforce anyway), it’s just a form so that nobody skips the informed consent step which is so important.

        • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa
          August 6, 2014 at 10:12 am #

          No, hospitals don’t make you sign a “waiver.” You sign consent forms.

          This is just more NCB bullshit. They don’t know the difference between a waiver and a consent form.

          • guest
            August 6, 2014 at 11:25 am #

            NCB’ers don’t understand the concept of consent (especially informed consent!)because that would involve their followers having minds of their own..

          • KarenJJ
            August 6, 2014 at 10:27 pm #

            How is MANA going with their informed consent form for homebirth – anyone know?

          • Sue
            August 8, 2014 at 1:44 am #

            These things take time, Karen.

          • KarenJJ
            August 8, 2014 at 4:26 am #

            Yes, MANA time moves like no other time.

          • MaineJen
            August 8, 2014 at 1:15 pm #

            They have ‘other ways’ of measuring time.

  6. Anna T
    August 6, 2014 at 12:53 am #

    “Childbirth is not a performance that ought to be rated or compared. Childbirth is a bodily function like vision. Sometimes it works well; sometimes it needs help.”

    This nearly made me cry. Fortunately, I live in a society that doesn’t put very much emphasis on how you gave birth and doesn’t shame mothers for whom breastfeeding doesn’t work (for various reasons). Unfortunately, I live in a society that competes in something a lot more vital: the number of children one has. We have, so far, two children; the youngest will soon be 4. I’ve wanted to add another child for a long time, but was only able to conceive several months ago (18 weeks along now). I’ve had to face prying and pity, unsolicited advice and comments from a whole range of people – those who thought I’m on birth control and those who guessed I’m struggling with secondary infertility. There were guests who came into our house, seeing us for the first time, and immediately commented, “you have two lovely girls. Why haven’t you had another one yet, though?”, and there were people who said, “you breastfed your child for too long, of course you messed up your cycle”. OK… so I did it for a little over 2 years. 2 years is considered NORMAL in the Jewish tradition. Have they forgotten?

    In a comment on a previous thread, I said I cannot believe any woman would be shamed into lying about breastfeeding. Unfortunately, I can readily believe there are women living next to me who are shamed into lying about whether or not they are using birth control.

    My brother-in-law and his wife married about a month before my husband and I. Naturally we’re meeting many milestones of life and parenting together. When they had their second, my husband commented that they “are catching up with us”. He said it tongue-in-cheek, but I reminded him this isn’t a competition. In the Bible, Sarah, Rachel and Hannah all waited many years to have a child and then were only able to have one or two. This doesn’t make them any less of a mother; in fact, Sarah and Rachel are considered of the four great matriarchs of the Jewish people.

  7. namaste863
    August 5, 2014 at 11:24 pm #

    I think we’re thinking about this all wrong. NCB isn’t so much an opinion based on erroneous science as it is a cult. It features powerful, charismatic leaders (Ina May Gaskin); questioning, dissent, and doubt are discouraged (just look at any birth blog); simple solutions to complex problems (cinnamon candy for pph); Love bombing (A common feature of lay midwifery practice), circular, non-falsifiable thinking (“trust birth”, fudged MANA statistics); and non-accountable leadership (No licensure or government oversight of any kind.) it even has women voluntarily committing suicide and martyring their children. We might as well try to convince the residents of Jonestown not to drink the kool aid.

  8. Zornorph
    August 5, 2014 at 10:42 pm #

    My baby is good enough. He’s smart enough. And, gosh darn it, people like him!

  9. August 5, 2014 at 10:36 pm #

    I planned a home birth with my midwife. In Ontario, they are professional medical care providers operating within the healthcare system, and provide a couple weeks of postnatal care in your home. I loved the freedom I had and the personable care.
    But I went overdue. Very overdue. I ultimately ended up in the hospital for an induction then a C section. I got an infection. I experienced lactation failure. Everything I’d been told about natural birth did not apply to me.
    Took me awhile, but I faced number 10 on this list and found peace.
    And I’m grateful to live in this day and age and in Canada where I had access to quality care that saved my life and my baby’s, where I could formula feed him safely.
    Also very gratified that having midwife care still enabled me to access modern obstetrics. I wish everyone could have that. Midwives should be educated medical professionals.

  10. guest
    August 5, 2014 at 9:34 pm #

    OT: my daughter was born on Sunday, perfectly happy and healthy. I want to share my experience of my “healing natural birth,” because it was nothing like I expected. I had wanted a natural birth with my son two years ago, but due to some complications, interventions were necessary. Now, I am very grateful to my doctor and modern medicine for getting him here safely, and I have no regrets. (I say “healing natural birth” tongue-in-cheek, because as Dr. Amy says, after the fact, it just doesn’t matter; my son was going to be the center of my world now matter how he got here.) However, I couldn’t help but wonder if things would be different with a natural birth (of course in the safety of a doctor’s care in the hospital), such as the oxytocin rush, or milk coming in faster, etc. Here are my observations based on my experience: bonding immediately with my son was much easier, because I was able to focus on him. With my daughter, I was in so much pain that I was almost indifferent to the wiggly baby they placed on my chest, and it stayed this way for a long while. We are getting to know each other now, of course, but it was not as quick, or, dare I say, natural? I did not feel immediate relief after the baby was out, getting stitched up was horrible, and the afterpains just about sent me through the roof. Instead of focusing on my new baby, I was just screaming and crying in pain. I did not find natural birth empowering. I found it to be the opposite: humbling. It knocked me on my butt and I didn’t find any oxytocin rush helpful in picking me back up. I found my daughter’s unmedicated birth much more traumatic than my son’s medicated birth. I know other women have different experiences, but this was mine, and I don’t think I’ll plan on a natural childbirth again if I can help it.

    • Mishimoo
      August 5, 2014 at 10:18 pm #

      Congratulations on the safe arrival! I’m so sorry that it wasn’t as you expected, and I hope that if you decide to have more babies, that you have a pleasant + safe experience.

    • fiftyfifty1
      August 6, 2014 at 9:47 am #

      Congrats on your new baby! Glad the arrival was safe if not all you hoped it would be.

    • moto_librarian
      August 6, 2014 at 11:22 am #

      Congratulations! Remember that you are now part of a very exclusive club – the “I had a natural birth and it is seriously overrated.”

  11. Busbus
    August 5, 2014 at 9:22 pm #

    I love this post. It’s also a wonderful one to share. 🙂

  12. Ellen Mary
    August 5, 2014 at 6:49 pm #

    Wow, this is a really triumphant post. <3

  13. araikwao
    August 5, 2014 at 5:12 pm #

    Re #8, I’d only disagree in the situation where the mother is told she should just keep BF/standard FF the baby who is miserable and reflux-y and FTT due to cow’s milk protein allergy. Then I imagine the baby does care that he keeps getting a nipple pushed in his mouth that delivers food that makes him sick.
    But yes, great post, if only it was pre-reading before woo-infused childbirth education classes..

    • mh
      August 5, 2014 at 10:56 pm #

      This assumes the baby understands the cause & effect relationship between the feeding Bd the reflux. They dont have that cognitive ability yet.

      • araikwao
        August 6, 2014 at 4:31 am #

        Babies refusing feeds due to GORD/GERD is a well-known phenomenon. Given that the reflux occurs in a close temporal association with feeds, it’s not astonishing, it’s Pavlovian, I guess.

        • Beth S
          August 6, 2014 at 4:33 am #

          My niece refused to feed due to GERD. I tell her mother all the time that it’s more the baby associates feeding with pain responses more than it’s not hungry. But then again I suffer from it myself, and there were days when I was pregnant that I’d rather die than eat because the heartburn was so bad.

          • araikwao
            August 6, 2014 at 4:51 am #

            Yeah,my nephew did it too. Not due to cow’s milk protein intolerance, though. And after ranitidine (and supplementing with formula due to poor supply and resulting FTT), he is an absolute tank!

          • Beth S
            August 6, 2014 at 6:53 am #

            I have custody of my niece now due to my sister-in-law’s drug issues and once I got her on ranitidine and changed her formula over to an amino-acid based formula (thank God for WIC or I’d be in the poorhouse with three young babies on formula my twin niece and nephew and then my own little girl) she plumped up rather well.

  14. Dr Kitty
    August 5, 2014 at 4:26 pm #

    Completely OT.
    My kiddo has…interesting ideas.
    Her:” We steal cow milk from cows and drink it, so they can’t feed their babies, right”
    Me:”….sort of ” (wondering where this is going)
    Her:”So, did anyone try and steal your boobie milk to feed to their baby, and did you have to fight the milk burglar so you could feed me?”
    Me:” No honey, people don’t steal human milk from mummies”.
    Her: ” Right, because people can fight back or call the police, and cows can’t”.
    Me: “Yup” ( at this point, almost helpless with laughter).

    • Beth S
      August 5, 2014 at 4:29 pm #

      Jeez, I would have been rolling from the moment my kiddo said boobie milk! I admit it I have a juvenile sense of humor. Then to say you could call the cops if someone else wanted to steal your boobie milk! Yeah needless to say I don’t think I would’ve handled it as well as you did.

    • me
      August 6, 2014 at 8:59 am #

      🙂 That reminds me of a conversation I had with my girls a few weeks ago. I had told my kids stories about the cow (steer, actually) that we had when I was a kid. I also mentioned that “Moo” had been raised for food and we had the cow butchered and ate him. My oldest (7) asked “Why we did you do that, what about all the milk?” Of course I explained to her that Moo was a male cow and male cows don’t give milk. My 4 year old piped up and said, “Yeah, . Male cows don’t give milk. Male cows give mail!”

      Still makes me chuckle. And now we call the mailman the mailcow (not to his face of course, lol).

  15. Beth S
    August 5, 2014 at 4:06 pm #

    I’ve always said kids love their parents, not the way they were parented. Most of the time kids could care less how they were fed, birthed, whether they were allowed to CIO or were APed. They just want safety, security, love and consistent parenting.
    It’s become a thing now to judge how people raise their kids, but you know what these affirmations would make life easier for so many parents. I’ve never understood the recent post-birth bonding craze. My youngest child is the first of my babies I was even able to hold right after she was born due to my own medical status, but my older daughter is as bonded to me as my younger one.

    • sour_sadie
      August 5, 2014 at 11:06 pm #

      You mean Kangaroo Care?

      • Beth S
        August 6, 2014 at 4:28 am #

        I mean all these things that supposedly interfere with bonding like hatting, patting, chatting, or not having the father cut the cord (my DH has an… issue with blood, he’d have ended up passed out on the floor if he’d cut the cord.) When I say my youngest daughter was the first I’d been able to hold directly after birth I mean just that. With both of my vaginal births I had precipitous labors, no pain meds, and massive post partum seizures afterwards so I spent the first hours of my older girls lives knocked out from the Ativan shot I got to control the seizure.

        • sour_sadie
          August 6, 2014 at 11:59 pm #

          Oh, that was the first thing that popped into my head, the Kangaroo care thing. I’m sorry about what you went through with your first two vaginal births.

          • Beth S
            August 7, 2014 at 12:37 am #

            It was what it was, I’ve moved past it and my older girls are happy and healthy. My eldest lives with her parents and the first one I raised my middle daughter is as bonded to me as my youngest child. I don’t dwell on my births, I was taught it’s healthy mother and child that matters.

  16. jenny
    August 5, 2014 at 2:51 pm #

    I love this post.

  17. Mom2Many
    August 5, 2014 at 2:27 pm #

    I loved this list, it is absolutely spot on, but I have to add one teeny unrelated to NCB criticism. You write in #1, that
    …..It will make absolutely, positively no difference to your child how he or she emerged from your womb (or, in the case of an adopted child, even if he or she emerged from your womb)……
    In my experience, and in my research, even in the happiest of adoptions, there is absolutely some impact to the child when they process the fact that their first mother/father did not raise them. For some it is huge, for others not so much, but I cannot agree that it is trivialized to the point of it making ‘absolutely, positively no difference to the child’.
    Hopefully I am reading this wrong, and you meant that the adopted child would not care how his first mom gave birth to him….and in that case I would tend to agree with the non-importance of it all.

    • Beth S
      August 5, 2014 at 3:57 pm #

      My sixteen year old was placed for adoption at birth because I was fifteen when she was born, and because of the way she was raised and the openness both her parents and I have practiced her entire life, she will tell you it makes absolutely no difference to her. In fact she could care less that it was my womb she came from, her mother is her mother, her father is her father, and I’m her birth mother a status for her which is more like a favorite aunt.

      • Mom2Many
        August 5, 2014 at 5:20 pm #

        So happy to read this, Beth! Believe me when I say that I wish your situation could be the norm. Kudos to everyone in your daughter’s life for the openness and focus on making things work! I really mean that.

      • Deborah
        August 5, 2014 at 7:41 pm #

        That’s really lovely.
        I was adopted and never knew my birth parents at all and didn’t have any desire growing up to find them. It is only now, in my fifties, that I find myself wondering about them and curious about my Greek Cypriot roots.
        The question of whether I entered the world vaginally or abdominally had not occurred to me and is irrelevant in the grand scheme of things, as I think Dr Amy’s post implies.

        • Beth S
          August 6, 2014 at 4:32 am #

          I was lucky, open adoptions were still new at the time I did it in the late nineties. So my daughter’s parents and I found our way together, and it worked for us. They’re her parents, I’m the cherished aunt she calls when she wants to bitch about her parents lol. Of course I usually tell her I agree with them, but still it works for us.
          I can understand about not wanting to know about your biological parents as well. The man I call Dad was not my sperm donor, as I found out when I was six, but until my kids were born with a minor CHD I didn’t care at all as to who my real father was. Even now all I want to know is medical history so I know what I’m facing as time passes.

    • Guestll
      August 6, 2014 at 11:21 am #

      My husband and his twin are adopted. They have always known they are adopted and cannot even recall first being “told”, they have never had one iota of interest in locating or finding out more information than they already were told about their birth mother or father, and truly, they don’t see it in terms of “first mother who did not raise them.” To them, adoption made absolutely, positively no difference.

  18. guesting
    August 5, 2014 at 1:52 pm #

    Loved this! I’m only slightly kidding when I say it soothes my inner child. It confirms what I’ve learned from having 4 kids too. (They’re all young so I have a lot to learn still!!!) But, I had to go through those experiences to be where I am.

    My only wish is that the image was a list of the 1-10 so it would pin on Pinterest better!

  19. Kaci
    August 5, 2014 at 1:43 pm #

    This is beautiful. Thank you.

  20. GiddyUpGo123
    August 5, 2014 at 1:30 pm #

    I started reading this blog after my youngest child was eating solids, and I wish all the time that I could just go backwards. I tried breastfeeding all four of them and I have no idea why I put myself through that, except because everyone around me was making me believe I was a failure. I had nipples that were so damaged that they looked like raw hamburger, and I had to wear burn pads in my bra to stop them from scabbing over and sticking to the fabric. And yet everyone was like, “Just nurse more!” My supply was dropping like crazy, because the thought of “just nursing more” was absolutely terrifying. So my babies all got supplemented with formula and it was “my fault” because I didn’t just grit my teeth and withstand the pain and “Just nurse more!” So to everyone else, intolerance of pain = bad mother. This of course was coming from women who never, ever had any pain breastfeeding, and had no idea what it’s like to have a ravenous baby sucking on your open sores. I remember after I quit breastfeeding I would hide in my car to bottle feed my kids because I was ashamed to give them bottles in public. How I wish that I’d found this blog before I put myself through all of that.

    • Smoochagator
      August 6, 2014 at 9:34 am #

      Reading this breaks my heart! How awful 🙁

  21. moto_librarian
    August 5, 2014 at 1:06 pm #

    These are perfect.

  22. PoopDoc
    August 5, 2014 at 1:00 pm #

    This is wonderful. I wish I’d read it when mine were smaller.

  23. S2A2
    August 5, 2014 at 12:14 pm #

    Thank you so much for this. It’s hard enough to feel like you haven’t done what’s “best” for your child(ren) but add in PPD and it can be soul-crushing.

  24. Amy M
    August 5, 2014 at 11:55 am #

    How about: “I do not need to feel guilty for making reasonable parenting choice that work for my family.”

    Just because society THINKS mothers should feel guilty all the time doesn’t mean they should. The vast majority haven’t done anything wrong. (wrt child-raising)

    Also: “Though I am now a mother, I am still a woman in my own right, and I have a right to want time/sleep/space/new clothes for myself and its not selfish.”

    “Selfish” is a key word to attacking and emotionally manipulating mothers, because mothers are “supposed” to give, to sacrifice. And of course, we do, but we do not need to sacrifice ourselves entirely.

    • August 5, 2014 at 12:12 pm #

      Also: “Though I am now a mother, I am still a woman in my own right, and
      I have a right to want time/sleep/space/new clothes for myself and its
      not selfish.”

      I gave birth in 1980, 1982, and 1983. By 1984, I was suffering from really bad constipation because whenever Mother went to the bathroom, the kids had learned they could tear the house apart in my absence. Forget LOCKING the bathroom door, I couldn’t even CLOSE it if I was alone with them. After they’d trashed the house, they’d start murdering each other.

      One day I’d had enough, and I began shouting: “i AM A HUMAN BEING! IT IS MY RIGHT TO GO TO THE BATHROOM AND NOT BE DISTURBED!!” My husband, one of 11 children, looked at me very strangely. His friends had warned him that Americans were odd…

      • Beth S
        August 5, 2014 at 4:11 pm #

        Recently it’s gotten to the point where I won’t even take a shower until three in the morning because I’m afraid of what my kiddo will get into. I have OCD issues with taking a bath (I feel like it’s sitting in your own dirt) however I miss my morning thirty minute showers and can’t wait until my youngest is in school too so I can take them again.

        • sour_sadie
          August 6, 2014 at 11:57 pm #

          I’m the same way when it comes to baths. They’re for relaxation, imo.

      • sour_sadie
        August 5, 2014 at 11:10 pm #

        American society is rather idiotic.

  25. jhr
    August 5, 2014 at 11:53 am #

    Amen to Dr. Amy’s sensitive discussion of mothering over the span of her life and her childrens’ lives. Well and truly stated.

  26. attitude devant
    August 5, 2014 at 11:40 am #

    and #7? Yes!!! Like my hero Abel Andrews who was injured and abandoned by his mother’s midwives: http://www.gofundme.com/7p5y6s

  27. attitude devant
    August 5, 2014 at 11:38 am #

    #8 —yes! I felt so guilty about not breastfeeding (poor to absent supply). But what I found was my baby loved ME, not my boob. She was happy with her bottle, but she would have cheerfully foregone it just to be held by me. Boob or bottle, it was all the same to her, as long as I was the one offering it.

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