Updated: Nov 11, 2020
1. Information is Not Advice.
Everyone has their own life experiences and opinions which may colour the way they present information and make it seem a lot like advice. Sometimes our own understanding of the world, or previous experiences, can make us feel pressured to make choices that feel implied by the information someone has selected to give us. An important thing to be aware of, and a skill to learn during pregnancy that will serve you very well as a parent and through life, is how to filter what you hear so you can spot the information and separate it from the advice so that you can decide what the right choices are for you. One example of this might be when you’re offered an induction of labour. You will be given information about why you are being offered an induction of labour by your care provider. Some of this may be in the form of advice to take up the offer. You might then think "I’m not sure if this is the right choice for me" and want to chat through with a friend. Your friend may have had an experience of having labour induced and may have negative memories from that. The information about her experience may also feel like advice. You might then also look up information on the internet about induction of labour (if you decide to do this, you’re very welcome to ask in our Facebook group if anyone knows any reliable sources of accurate information) and you may find that information is presented from many different perspectives. Ultimately, however, you will find some things resonate with you and this information is useful for your own decision-making process. Then you are able to discard the other information and advice which isn’t helpful or relevant to you. This can help you feel really confident in your own decisions and is a life skill which can help with your confidence as you learn to parent and throughout life.
2.You can always ask for more information.
This is especially relevant when navigating the maternity system. If you find yourself being told “we will do this then we will do that” but you don’t understand why or if you have to go along with it if it doesn’t feel right for you; don’t be shy to ask “can I have more information about why this is being offered?” Here’s some information you might find useful: your human rights don’t change when you’re pregnant or birthing. Want to know more about your rights then check out Birthrights Website. You have the right to make your own decisions, you don’t have to persuade anyone to support those decisions. Your health care providers have the responsibility to ensure you have all the information you need to make a fully informed decision about anything they offer you and to provide you with unbiased care whatever your decisions.
3. You can control the flow of information.
There is such a thing as too much information sometimes. Sometimes we find it comforting and helpful to have a lot of information but sometimes we can be overwhelmed by all the information. Another useful skill to learn during pregnancy, that will be very helpful in life and especially when parenting, is to control the flow of information to a level that’s positive for you. Remember, you can unplug from the internet and especially from social media if the information about other people’s lives is making you feel anxious or overwhelmed or inadequate. Remember, people are picking the best bits of their lives to share on social media and "comparison is the thief of joy" (Theodore Rosevelt). Pick out the information that’s helpful to you when you need it and shut out the information that’s not helpful to you. You’re always welcome to come and post in our Facebook group any time you’re feeling overwhelmed or worried or anxious; it’s a safe space to find other people who will say “oh yes me too” and “you will get through this”.
4. Information helps you find your people.
When looking for information you will always come across other people who are also looking for information. When you ask questions and listen to how people present information and share their experiences it is a really good time to get to know people who see the world in similar ways to you, people who share perspectives and values with you. As you head into pregnancy, birth and beyond these people will help you feel understood and supported. Now is a good time to reach out and make friends with those people; we all need a supportive community surrounding us and never more so than as we parent.
5. Information gives you the opportunity to live without guilt.
Being able to separate advice and opinions from information is a good skill to work on, especially when it comes to parenting. Information will allow you to understand why things happen and the results your choices may have. This helps you own your choices and feel confident in them. This confidence will help you reject the judgements and opinions of society and the media. Because, if we allow their opinions (which are always that parents are not doing well enough or getting anything right, whatever we do) to get into our thinking, they can turn into feelings of guilt and sadness that aren’t helpful or necessary. For example, when you’ve had the information you need to make the right decision for yourself about where and how your baby sleeps best then you can feel confident to answer the question "are they a good baby?" with the eye roll and “yes thanks they haven’t robbed any banks yet”. Which helps to avoid getting drawn into being given unsolicited advice about how things were “in my day”. If you’re looking for a good source of information on normal infant sleep do check out the BASIS Website.
Information is powerful, make friends with it and with those who will support you to use the information to make your own decisions and support you to assert your choices confidently.