So you have a baby on the way. How exciting!
I wonder, have you made a list of all the equipment youâ€™ll need? All the things you must have to help baby feel comfortable and you feel organised and ready?
OK, here’s what to do.
Take a deep breath and tear that stupid list UP!
It’s a trap, I tell you. A trap expertly laid which preys on your desire to be a good parent. It’ll cost you financially and it’ll cost your family emotionally too.
When I was pregnant I got myself into a right lather over my list of things I needed to get. Cot â€“ which kind? Sheets, clothes, hats, nappies (which ones?!) towels, cloths, baby mat, toys, mobile, monitorâ€¦ it just went on and on, gaining extra items from every baby website I visited. The list grew longer and longer – kind of like in preparation for how long theÂ till receipt was going to be at my local giant baby goods store.
The equipment list became some kind of test. It seemed to represent my level of preparedness for motherhood. Somehow it felt like the more things I had on that list, the more equipment I had, the better mother I would be.
During one visit to my midwife I told her my concerns about â€œall this equipment I need to getâ€ I thrust The List at her saying, â€œIâ€™m worried I havenâ€™t got everything on here and is there anything Iâ€™ve missed?â€
My midwife, who had helped birth thousands of babies, smiled gracefully and without so much as a glance at The List said, â€œBabies only need one piece of equipment: arms to hold themâ€.
OMG what a relief! â€˜Arms to hold themâ€™. Em, What? Oh, OK.
But then, panic â€“ â€œwhat about a COT?â€
â€œBaby in the bedâ€ she said – firmly – and that was the end of the whole equipment discussion.
Not knowing then the whole baby-in-the-bed furore, I went with my wise midwifeâ€™s advice about this and many other things – much to the benefit of myself and my baby.
So if you have a list like mine – tear it up. No, really, give yourself a break. Take the pressure off. Don’t start cluttering up your home with a whole pile of stuff that will only come between you and your baby. Don’t think it’s helping you be prepared. It’s actually having the opposite effect because you’ll be relying on “things” and “stuff” to be ‘prepared’ instead of preparing yourself and having confidence in yourself.
No matter what people say to you – you do NOT need all that stuff when you have a baby. In no way does it represent your ability to be a good mother or father. In fact, I would go so far as to say that most baby equipment is designed to replace you as a parent. All of this equipment, this stuff, somehow comes between you and your baby and creates distance. (More about that another time perhaps.)
Babies need you – their mommy and/or daddy. The most important equipment they need is someone to love them and protect them. It follows that that includes your breasts, your arms, your songs, attention, whisperings and laughter.
In fact, having seen an amazing mum who was born without arms, you donâ€™t even need arms to be a loving parent.
I was prompted to write this post today after seeing an advertisement for the Scottish Baby Show at the SECC in Glasgow at the weekend. An event which yes, celebrates the delight and joy of having a baby and that is a beautiful thing to bask in.
But it also brings together lots of people wanting to suck the cash right out of the pockets of expectant parents. This is relatively easy to do by playing on our natural, human â€œwill I be a good enough parent?â€ fears.
â€˜Only with this Â£1,500 pramâ€™ they say. â€˜Only with this factory-produced formula, plus all the sterlising kit you need to go with itâ€™. â€˜Only if baby sleeps through the night and youâ€™ll need a baby monitor because, of course, they also need their own bed which youâ€™ll need to buy for Â£200 plus mattress plus sheets and of course a bumper.’
Does it not just make you feel insecure thinking about it?
There is a gigantic baby goods industry* built around making ludicrous amounts of money from new parents – and, like people grieving or going through other life-changing events, new parents are extremely vulnerable to the refined sales pitch.
Take the pressure off yourself. Donâ€™t fall for the commercial hype. Don’t let ‘the baby experts’ attempts to “educate” you undermine your confidence in yourself as a parent. Just get what you want, not what some company tells you need. All the other stuff distracts baby from you, and you from baby. Make like a primitive human. Be more to your baby by having less.
All your baby wants is you.
*OMG I just googled “value of baby industry US” and the first thing that popped up was “baby FOOD [so only commercially-prepared baby FOOD] globally worth $37.6 BILLION by 2014 so am just too scared to re-google to get the ZILLION dollar amount of total value of the baby goods market in the US and UK – you do it….
Image borrowed from Mary Bogdan from her series, “Re-parenting the Inner Child”. (A subject close to my heart which I’ll be discussing soon.)