Monday, April 18, 2011

Being a "good mom".

"Almost there... you're almost there." I tell myself this at least twice a day. I say it aloud to my husband at least once a day and to anyone who asks how I'm doing. It helps keep me focused. And, lately, I've needed it because, like most women who've started their 10th month of pregnancy, I'm over being pregnant and am counting down the days until I get to hold my new daughter!

The fact that I know exactly when her birthday will be, as I am having a planned c-section, helps me keep this focus and plan almost every detail around her birth and homecoming. This brings me to a small rant about common attitudes concerning cesareans. I was poking around online and found a comment thread around women who choose surgical births when not medically necessary. I would say at least 75% of the comments were negative. I don't mean slightly negative or critical -but flat out MEAN.

One woman actually said that having a vaginal birth made you love your baby more. Even though this lady was an obvious idiot, her comment amazed me. And, it was not the only one that eluded to a belief that the bond between mother and child was stronger depending on the baby's exit route from mom's body. Never mind the babies that have taken the natural route out of their mother's bodies and into dumpsters or, worse still, have survived birth to live a life of abuse. I am sure you would be hard pressed to find any correlation between abuse and neglect of children by their mothers and mode of delivery. So much for that theory.

The fact is, I think it is idiotic to criticize a mother for how she chooses to bring her child into the world, or to feel superior to another mother because you pushed a baby out of your body while she laid on a table and had one lifted from hers. Similarly, some women harbor the same kind of smugness about breastfeeding -believing themselves to be so much better than those formula feeding moms. Granted, it is almost impossible now-a-days to deny that breast milk is best for babies under 6 months (assuming your milk is not vitamin deficient). It has well established immunological benefits and, having breastfed with my first, I know that the bonding experience (not to mention weight loss) is a beautiful thing. Choosing to breastfeed is choosing a healthier future for your child, I am not arguing that. However, breastfeeding and having a vaginal birth is not what makes a woman a good just makes her a mammal like the rest of us!

I think all mothers should focus their efforts on the things that do make for a good parent. It is not about how much pain you bravely endured to bring your child into the world, or how much milk your body was able to produce for them -it is about using your mind and your love for them to make the decisions that will help them grow up to be healthy, productive and happy. Among these choices could be the one to breastfeed but it is relatively small in weight when compared to the many choices parents find themselves having to make for their kids on a daily basis. Finding, sorting through and seizing opportunities to teach them, to expose them to new experiences, to give them confidence, empathy and love. All of these things should matter more, simply because they will do much, much more to guarantee the quality of your child's life in the future.