Maternal instinct is a tricky concept. Why? Because it makes it all too easy to fall into the trap of ‘I should know this!’ And once you fall into that trap, it becomes harder and harder to ask for advice, get help or seek information.
‘You’re failing as a mother,’ goes the little voice in the back of your mind as you realize that giving birth had not endowed you will a instant mental baby manual. Continue reading
‘So, no real fever. Vomiting?’
The doctor looked at me with a little laugh.
‘So why have you brought him in?’ she murmured rhetorically as she started to examine BabyBoy.
When you’re faced with a squalling newborn and you have no idea why the poor thing is crying, you would be forgiven for thinking that ‘maternal instinct’ is another myth that your real life has just exploded.
But although it took me a few months I am now convinced that mother (or whoever the primary caregiver is) really does know best.
This knowledge is not, however, instinct. Maternal instinct might make you love and protect baby, but it doesn’t decode your baby’s cries or teach you how to soothe. That, I have found, comes with simply spending time with baby and learning what each of the cries mean. It’s not a physical or hormonal thing, it’s a mental, learned process. So when you give birth you don’t suddenly have all this knowledge to hand, and you shouldn’t feel inadequate if you don’t ‘just know’ what to do.