Using instinct as a parenting tool

Nothing prepares one for motherhood. Not books, not advice and not even maturity. Like many things in life, there is a massive discrepancy between head and heart. Perhaps one may know the ins and outs of motherhood intellectually and practically but one can only really come to a better understanding once the emotions that coincide with the birth of a baby have been unlocked.

I always claimed that I had no maternal instinct and I only vaguely understood the practical implications of looking after a baby, so motherhood was a fairly daunting prospect for me. One which I only had time to ponder when my mind, occupied primarily with the terrifying anticipation of the actual birth process, gave me a chance to do so. As far as ‘prepared’ goes, I was at the bottom of the prepared-o-meter.

Predictably, motherhood proved to be a shock to the system, a welcome shock but an absolute electricity bolt none the less. The biggest change for me was the massive weight of responsibility thrust upon me that had been lacking from my life pre-baby. And the serious nature of that responsibility can be overwhelming at times. Luckily for me, that maternal instinct, previously a hazy figure on the horizon, beat its way forward and took over.

My husband and I had certain ideas about how we wanted to manage our new baby and some of those ideas we have applied and others have required compromise. However, what drives many of the decisions we make is my instinct as a mum. I am of the firm opinion that whether you are Gina-Fording your way through raising your baby or adopting the Woosah! approach, or something in between, a parent’s (particularly a mum’s) instinct should be the driving force.

That is not to say that I know what I am doing all of the time because I most certainly don’t. Before I had Amelia, decisions regarding sleep, crying, dummies, clothing or feeding all seemed simple. After Amelia was born, those decisions did not seem so clear cut – especially as a first time parent.

There are a million and one decisions that parents have to make in a single day. Decisions that affect a little life that is your responsibility. I want to do my best as a parent and simultaneously give myself room to acknowledge the mistakes I make and to also forgive myself for making them.

The way I function as a mum is by trusting my gut and it works for me. I most certainly don’t know babies but I do know my baby… usually.