#FOMO Being a good mum while staying sane
Updated: May 20
How not to drown in the deep and dangerous ocean of mum tips, expert advice and new study findings.
Back in the day when our parents were raising us they had access to (if they were lucky in Bulgaria!) one or two types of formula milk, baby porridge and baby lotion. As much as this is hardly my idea of living the dream, I sometimes genuinely envy their total lack of choice.
They also, interestingly enough, managed to survive without mum forums, prenatal classes and online seminars.
Now, as a mum with a #fomo [fear of missing out] I've tried all of the above with the naive hope to find concrete, unquestionable facts of how to raise a child and what type of baby furniture, clothes, toys and cosmetics I actually need.
Needless to say, I have failed phenomenally. Not only have I never found a concrete answer to any of my questions, I always managed to encounter two schools of equally passionate groups claiming the complete opposites. And it is not just mums in mum forums, it is doctors and experts who completely disagree on almost everything!
To make it even harder for myself, I spent my pregnancy between England and Bulgaria and yes, you guessed it - the routine practices in the two countries disagree majorly.
See below some examples on the totally contradicting pieces of information and advice I have encountered during my pregnancy and maternity.
- Being active while pregnant - "You need to rest a lot, be seated even if you don't need a seat and should not go to work throughout your pregnancy." VS
"Stay as active as possible, go for walks, do yoga, work until the end of your pregnancy if you feel it's right for you" [I did the latter as I think more and more mums are doing.]
- What to eat/drink during pregnancy and breastfeeding - "You can't have any coffee" VS "You can have coffee as long as it is not too much."
"Don't have any peanuts EVER, it's very dangerous." VS "Having peanuts will build baby's tolerance, hence reducing the risk of allergies."
There are many long daunting lists of foods that are not recommended during pregnancy, meaning at some point I was completely lost. I remember accidentally having a piece of brie cheese and panicking I have killed my baby!
There is also of course the question of light alcohol where opinions vary from "One sip of beer will kill your unborn child" to "A couple of wine glasses a day are fine!"
- Medical care - It is pretty intense and regular in Bulgaria with lots of tests and doctor appointments.
In the UK, on the other hand, you get 3-4 appointments with a doctor and a few more with a midwife throughout the whole pregnancy if it is going well.
Having a flu vaccine was another major point of disagreement I came across. I had the vaccine in the UK while pregnant as it was highly recommended, but every time I mentioned it in Bulgaria, a doctor or a nurse started crying!
Also basically medicines are not allowed, especially in the UK! I once went to the pharmacy trying to get a hay fever medication but was sent back sneezing and sad with a pack of paracetamol (the only medicine they were allowed to give me without a prescription!) :(
- Breastfeeding- while there seems to be a general consensus that breastfeeding is good for the baby, that is where all agreement ends.
Do you breastfeed on demand or on schedule? Is it OK to supplement with formula while breastfeeding? Is it OK to breastfeed outside? How to best store breast milk and formula milk? When is the appropriate time to stop breastfeeding?
Those are all questions that could easily start a war in any mum forum and any article you read about it will pompously conclude "There is no right answer to it".
- Sleeping pattern- "Try to teach baby to sleep on schedule" vs "Let them sleep when they need to."
There is also the bizarre "Eat, Play, Sleep" routine that encourages mums to not let their babies fall asleep naturally after they've eaten but to somehow force them to stay awake and play?! Whoever made that up, hates mums, or at least me!
- Bathing a baby- "You should absolutely do it every night to create a ritual." VS
"Bathing babies every day is bad for them as it dries their skin."
- Baby food/ weaning - "You should start introducing solids as early as possible." VS "Wait until baby is old enough to ask for solid food himself."
Also on the topic: "Jarred baby food is safer as it is pasteurised, hence killing off bacteria, and can be preserved for longer" VS
"Homemade food is better for baby as it is fresh, potentially testier and you know exactly what's in it."
Here you can also find long and confusing lists on the order of food to be introduced only to find out you should not have given them spinach for another three months, but are way too late with the avocado! :(
- Potty training - "Start as early as possible." VS "Wait until the child is ready."
I recently joined an online seminar on the topic (as you do!) and learned that I should have started that process when my baby was three months old and at this stage should be ready to offer him the pot every 20 minutes. What a life!
- Handling baby cries - "You should always be there for your baby when s/he cries" VS "You should let them cry without trying to appease them or they will ruin your life with endless manipulations"
- Taking baby out - "It is safe to take your baby out the moment he or she leaves your body" VS
"You must stay locked in your house for at least 40 days after baby's birth and not let anyone see them, even their grandparents!"
- Socialising with others - "Children only need their parents in the first couple of years"
VS "If they are not going to nursery by the age of two, they will be scarred for life and never understand human interaction."
- Learning to walk- " Walkers help children pick walking up quickly, they are safe and fun for toddlers" VS
"Walkers are very bad for your baby, they can slow down baby's walking development and be bad for his muscles, ankles and feet. They can also lead to a number of accidents"
Also on the topic: "Soft soled shoes are best for when your baby is learning to walk, it is easier for them and helps them improve their balance and coordination. Tight shoes can hamper walking and cause problems" VS
"Hard soled shoes are safer for the baby, offering stability and are safer for the foot as they keep it intact."
When buying said pair of shoes for the first time, I told the orthopedic shop assistant that my child just started walking barefoot at home. She nearly shouted at me, saying that this is very dangerous and people are not meant to ever walk barefoot. I mean....
So after going through all this, I truly learned to control my #fomo. I desperately wanted to miss out on all new studies, suggesting that yet another thing is dangerous for my baby and to stay away from overly paranoid parents who say or write things like "DON'T EVER LET YOUR CHILD EAT THIS / PLAY WITH THIS" etc.
I tried to use as as much common sense I had left, mute all the additional noise as and only listen to my baby boy. The result- we are both much happier that way!