Got your L plates on? Learning to be a new parent.

learning to be a new parentJanet Murphy’s eldest child has his L plates and is learning to drive. Which is a handy reminder… about learning to be a new parent.

This has led me to think that being a learner driver is a bit like learning to be a new parent. Being a first-time mother — you know it’s something that will happen one day – you look forward to it, observe other people doing it, you read the book, do some research on the Internet, chat to other people and start to form a picture in your mind of what this new experience will look like.

The challenges are similar as well.

Problem 1

If Tom doesn’t see his Dad driving safely and following the rules he won’t learn the right way. So it is with us. If we don’t see other women breastfeeding and parenting gently, then we don’t see that as normal either. As a new Mum I found this particularly important as I am the youngest in my family and had never seen my Mum breastfeed, nor my aunties or Mum’s friends.

Solution: Hang out with your local ABA group or find some other breastfeeding women to share with

Problem 2

If Tom studies an old learner Driver Handbook with out-dated rules, he won’t learn the current road rules and will be confused by the changes. If we read books that give us a false idea of what life with a baby is like, we too will be confused and begin to doubt our instincts.

Solution: Be selective in what you read. I recommend anything by Pinky McKay or Dr William Sears, as well as ABA’s very useful book, ‘Breastfeeding . . . naturally’.

Problem 3

There is a plethora of information on the Internet. It reflects lots of opinions and points of view on every possible topic that you care to Google. If Tom reads sites that deal with overseas road rules and driving experiences, then that would create contusion when he drives in Australia. It is the same with us. If we read information on the Internet that leads us in the wrong direction, it can be confusing when learning to parent our own baby.

Solution: As with books, be selective about what you read on the Internet and the forums you participate in. A good place to start is the online breastfeeding café !

Problem 4

One of the things Tom has found challenging with learning to drive is that different people will give different and conflicting advice (sound familiar?) when they supervise his driving. Dad, Grandma, his boss, will all be particular about different things while offering suggestions to the learner driver.

We plan on organising some driving school lessons for him down the track to consolidate his knowledge as he prepares for his driving test. As it is with parenting, everyone has their own ideas, opinions and stories they want to share. People are more than willing to share their horror stories of birth, the sleepless nights, the crying and to offer their ‘solutions’ to the new mother.

Solution: Learn to filter’ the information that you receive. Most of it will be given with good intentions. Smile nicely and thank them for their input.

Then do exactly as you feel is right for your baby! ABA offers evidence-based information and learning experiences to support you. A Breastfeeding Education Class (BEC) is a great way to learn about breastfeeding and connect with other mothers.

Further information:

  • Where can I get help from an experienced mother who is a trained breastfeeding counsellor? Look for a support group in our Support & Education section. Another way to talk to experienced mothers is to call the Breastfeeding Helpline on 1800 686 268.
  • See our Breastfeeding Helpline page. All our Helpline volunteers are trained breastfeeding counsellors too.

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