I’m so tired of media & “experts” misleading women when they are in one of their most vulnerable stages of life – navigating the everchanging flow of early mothering, often exhausted & feeling desperate for solutions.
How are these women being misled? By not receiving the whole story, the whole truth. And, in many cases misleading mothers is not intentional, but I believe everyone can be more purposeful in sharing the whole truth. (It’d just be less likely to sell news stories & parenting/health programs.)
Here’s an example. A friend sent me a link to an online article yesterday, asking for my thoughts.
The headline of the article read:
“Babies introduced to solids early slept longer & woke less frequently, study finds”
And the introductory paragraph:
“A study by King’s College London & St George’s University of London has found that babies introduced to solid foods early, slept longer, woke less frequently at night & suffered fewer serious sleep problems, than those exclusively breastfed for around the first six months of life.”
(**Tired Mama, if you’re reading this, don’t stop here. Please read on. It won’t take long.)
My blood began to boil.
Imagine you’re a mother of a 3 month old baby (maybe you are!). You’ve been having to get up twice (or more!) per night to tend to your baby’s needs for comfort and calories and your body just isn’t used to this sleep disruption. You feel exhausted & would give anything for a full night sleep.
Enter this headline in your social media feed. Maybe the technology bots have planted it there based on things you’ve been searching for online. Maybe it was sent directly to you by a well-meaning friend or family member who knows how challenging these first months of mothering have been for you. What’s your next thought?
‘Maybe I should try some rice cereal or purees.‘
‘Other resources have said to introduce solids at six months, but I just really need to sleep. Maybe solid foods will make that happen.’
‘And I don’t want my baby to suffer with serious sleep problems.‘
‘But then I also read that his body – his gut & immune system – aren’t ready for solids until around 6 months.’
‘And we struggled so much with breastfeeding at the start & have finally found our groove, will adding solids now mess things up?‘
‘Or maybe my milk isn’t enough for her.’
‘I’m so tired.‘
Mixed messages…about when to introduce solids…and new research-based information about how solids could influence sleep (verifying that old wives tale of the fuller a baby’s belly is, the better she’ll sleep).
More stress & anxiety for an already stressed & exhausted mama.
I did a little digging – further into the article my friend sent & into the research study it was based on. Know what I found?
“Differences between the two groups peaked at six months, with the early introduction group sleeping for a quarter of an hour (16.6 minutes) longer per night..and their night waking frequency decreased from just over twice (2.01) per night to 1.74.”
16.6 minutes more sleep per night.
And a decrease in night waking from twice per night to 1.74 times per night.
At the peak difference between the groups – at one moment in time.
This is where statistics say the difference is significant…but real life say otherwise.
And, the “serious sleep problems” mentioned in that first paragraph – that was based on the (likely exhausted!) parents’ ratings of whether they considered their child’s sleep as a problem, NOT an actual sleep issue diagnosed by a sleep specialist and adequate testing.
Now imagine you’re that mother of a 3 month old baby again.
How likely are you to do the reading & the digging I did to find & understand this information?
How likely are you to scan the first few paragraphs of the article then hop over to your browser & ask “Dr. Google” how to help your baby sleep better?
And then down the rabbit hole of information online about infant sleep?
Would that settle your spinning mind?
Would you feel in a position to make a calm & confident choice about how to move forward & have both your baby’s & your needs met?
THIS is why providing you with good quality information & the support you need during your early mothering journey is so important to me.
I want you to experience health & vitality (not stress & overwhelm).
I want you to feel you’ve made health decisions that are calm & confident (not desperate & worried).
I want you to feel connected – to yourself, your baby, your family, your community – and to a trusted health care provider who’ll share the whole truth or help you uncover it.
xo Dr. Sarah