Trusting your decision-making skills over the opinions and advice of others takes work. Increasing your confidence in your decisions as a mother takes time. But the more time and effort you put into it, the stronger that skill will be, and the more you will trust yourself first.
A Mother's Intuition
The American Psychology Association defines intuition as “immediate insight or perception, as contrasted with conscious reasoning or reflection.” This means that you have an inner knowing, without needing to think or rationalize it.
Intuition serves us in all sorts of situations, from an everyday choice to life or death. When you become a mother, your intuition expands to serve your children.
You’ve heard of situations where a mom didn’t want her kid hanging out with another kid…she just knew they were a bad influence. Or when a mom sought out a second opinion because the pediatrician’s diagnosis didn’t sit right with her.
Maybe you have experienced that gut feeling walking into a daycare tour that told you it wasn’t the right place for your child.
Your intuition kicks in. You don’t know how or why, you just know.
The flip side to your intuition kicking in, is whether or not you even notice.
Today’s world is full of noise. Instagram, Facebook groups, podcasts, YouTube…you are inundated with information. Online forums and apps allow us multiple points of access to multiple points of view.
The problem with this is, somewhere along the way, you get lost. Your inner voice, your intuition, has been drowned out by all of that noise.
The more external information we consume, the farther we stray from our internal compass.
And it’s not intentional. It’s just confusing.
In the first year of motherhood alone, there are so many questions and a million answers for each.
Do I breastfeed or formula feed?
Co-sleep or independent sleeping in the crib?
How long do I swaddle?
They’re not rolling yet…is that normal?
They just ate, but it hasn’t been 2 hours…do I feed them again?
Solids at 4 months or 6? Baby-led weaning?
Sleep training? Cry it out?
Do any of these sound familiar? We don’t know if we should look left or right, up or down. The books tell us one thing, pediatricians another, and family and friends something else.
In all of this confusion, we are no longer tuning in. We begin to rely on outside sources to validate our choices. (Side note - this is not to say medical knowledge and facts are not valid sources for decision-making. Any true concerns should always be communicated with your doctor).
We unconsciously start second guessing ourselves, and look to others to reassure that we are doing the right thing. We begin quieting our inner voice and convincing ourselves that we are somehow ‘wrong’; whether it’s ‘overreacting’, being ‘too anxious’ or ‘asking too many questions’. We take the focus away from what we know about our child and begin focusing on the experience and advice of others.
It’s time to tune back in and strengthen your intuition.
Trust that your inner knowing connects you to your child and allows you to make the best decisions for them.
Navigating External Validation from Our Inner Circle
While we experience a lot of external noise from outside sources, we can also receive a lot of external noise from our inner circle. Pregnancy, postpartum and parenting become frequent topics of conversation with friends, family, and even strangers.
In sharing our concerns and questions, others share their own experiences with us as a way to connect. This can sow seeds of disconnect within ourselves. Our motherhood journey begins to incorporate a lot of this external information instead our own mind-body-soul connection.
Unsolicited advice and judgments are woven so seamlessly into our everyday lives, it’s no wonder we stray from our inner voice.
A co-worker comments on how “tiny” you look while pregnant... your friend’s face reacts a little too quickly when you share your decision to sleep train… your sister responds “that’s weird, we never had that” when a new illness arises. Even your mom nonchalantly laughs when you mention you’re concerned about a new behavior you’ve noticed in your toddler.
And if we are being honest, it’s likely we have passed our own judgments onto family and friends, both intentionally and unintentionally. We may have projected fear or thoughts onto another mother in a way that affected their decision-making.
Of course, there is likely no bad intent. Just remind yourself to take everything with a grain of salt and bring your thoughts to the forefront.
Let’s always encourage ourselves, our sisters and our friends to look inward.
As you look inward, ask yourself these questions:
- What does my gut say?
- What do I know about this situation?
- What are the facts?
- Is this life-threatening?
- What has past experience taught me about this situation?
- Do I feel like I should seek medical advice?
- Is my child acting differently than usual?
- Is something just off?
When you answer these questions, don’t overthink it. Your quickest and most natural thought is typically your intuition telling you something. That’s when you lean in. Remind yourself that you know what is best for your child, and that you always have their best interest in mind.
Increasing your intuition is like strengthening a muscle. You have to work that muscle and find ways to activate your intuition until it becomes more and more natural. Here are 4 ways to start strengthening on your intuition today:
- Practice mindfulness through meditation, breath work or simply sitting quietly for 5 minutes. This allows you to connect with yourself and hear your own thoughts.
- Stop inner conflict as it happens. Shut down negative thoughts that make you question what you are doing for your child. Affirm that you are doing what you feel is best.
- Stop relying on tracking apps. There, I said it. I won’t say they aren’t helpful, but take a minute to remember to listen to your baby. Watch them for cues and signals. Your baby will likely let you know what they need when they need it. Plus, your mental health will thank you for it.
- Be present. Release the schedule and don’t look at the clock. Truly take as much time as you can to get to know your baby, and let them get to know you.
This Mother’s Day, celebrate and empower yourself. Remember how far you’ve come and all of the times your intuition has served you and your child.
Commit to honoring yourself, your intuition, your instinct, the voice inside that tells you what’s right.
Originally from Rhode Island, she now lives in North Carolina with her husband and three young children. She is a practicing Doctor of Physical Therapy, self-proclaimed foodie, lover of wine, podcasts, books, and binge-worthy TV series.
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