There is an amazing article from Mothering Magazine on how to trust yourself and your intuition as a mother! Most of the quotes in this post are from that article.
When we become mothers, we have to generate a new kind of courage. We are accustomed in our society to giving up our authority to experts, to assuming that powerful individuals know more than we do. We live in a culture in which we expect that authoritative knowledge lies outside ourselves. In more traditional, non-industrialized societies, people believe that authority rests within themselves, and that knowledge is everywhere. Once we become mothers, it is necessary that we, too, trust our instinctual natures.
I fall into this trap, reading book after book thinking I will find the answer about my child’s problems there. The books may help give me tools, but the answer is inside of the child and me. This intuition can guide you in all times as you mother. I have used it during my pregnancies and still use it and my oldest baby is 12.
Trusting Instincts Saves Lives
When Thing 2 was little he had 10 ear infections in 10 months. We brought him to an Ear, Nose & Throat specialist and decided to do surgery for ear tubes. This is a common procedure and low risk.
As the day for the surgery neared I felt VERY nervous about it. To the point where I realized if Thing 2 died during the surgery I wouldn’t feel surprised. That really scared me, so the day before the surgery I finally told my DH about my fears. (Why did I wait so long? It was because my fear seemed so irrational.) Imagine my surprise when he had been worrying about the same thing
I remembered what I learned in Gavin de Becker’s Book Protecting the Gift and what I talked about in my Worry into Intuition post. Gavin says:
“True fears and unwarranted fears may at times feel the same, but you can tell them apart. True fear is a gift that signals us in the presence of danger; thus, it will be based upon something you perceive in your environment or your circumstance.”
He even has a story in his book about a family in a similar situation that we were in. I am not sure what it is I perceived in my environment. But since Rob and I both felt this worry so strongly we took it seriously.
The best antidote to worry is action. If there is an action that will lessen the likelihood of a dreaded outcome occurring, and if that action doesn’t cost too much in terms of effort or freedom, then take it… Almost all of the worry parents feel about keeping their children safe evolves from the conflict between intuition and inaction.
Your choices when worrying are clear: take action, have faith, pray, seek comfort, or keep worrying.
We prayed about our feelings and then called and cancelled the surgery immediately. We both felt immense relief after we cancelled the surgery. What if we hadn’t talked to each other about our fears until after the surgery? Would Thing 2 be with us today? Who knows what would have happened, but I do know I am glad I followed my instincts. It was an incredible teaching moment and one that sticks with me as I continue to trust my intuition as I raise my boys.
The courage to know ourselves requires that we do not underestimate our own capacity. It is our circumstances themselves that expand our capacities.
I have found that mothers who are open to following their intuition, even if it takes them where they don’t expect it to, are able to grow in their capacity.
This can start during pregnancy and birth. I have two stories that demonstrate this in different ways.
Jenni was planning a home birth for her 5th baby, but “When I went into labor I just felt very panicked internally… something didn’t feel normal to me… so off to the hospital we went. I asked for an epidural… a first for me out of all my births. I also declined AROM… another first for me; however, I felt very strongly that for some reason with this pregnancy and birth my water needed to be intact for as long as possible.”
By continuing to follow her intuition throughout her birth, she was able to avoid a cesarean when it was discovered her baby was breech as she started to push. (Jenni’s Story)
Shelly was my doula client planning a hospital birth, but really felt “drawn” to a homebirth, but never took the time to meet with a midwife. At 37 weeks she mentioned again to me the unease she felt about going to the hospital and I again suggested the idea of meeting with a homebirth midwife to explore that option.
This time she took the time to meet with her. After their meeting she called and said, “We are having a homebirth and I finally feel great about my plans!”
Her birth was long and the baby’s head was tipped a little funny, but Shelly and her midwife trusted her body and her baby and she birthed her little boy vaginally after 35 hours. When we met for our postpartum visit we both agreed had she been at the hospital she would have ended up with a cesarean.
You can see the power they both gained as mothers as they followed their intuition during their births. I love this post by Giving Birth with Confidence about the importance of following our instincts during birth. She quotes a doctor who says that intuition is becoming a lost art in medical situations, but that it is often more accurate than medical technology.
As Rollo May says, “The opposite of courage in our society is not cowardice, it is conformity.” Conformity does not serve children. They are not conformists. They are idiosyncratic. Being an authentic individual means that you make decisions based on your personal vision of what you believe is best for your family, not simply on what other parents are doing…
I feel like I don’t really “fit in” anywhere in my parenting choices. I am not mainstream, but I am not crunchy either. I make choices depending on my families needs. For instance, sometimes I choose to use antibiotics and sometimes not. It is something I look to my intuition for and make an individual choice each time. It took me years of practice to get to this point.
Fortunately, courage is self-generating. Have faith in your own capacity to change and grow. The more you face difficult situations openly, the braver you become.
We are presented with many opportunities to grow as parents. That is what is so great about being a parent!
I hope you take the time to pay attention to your intuitions, starting today, even if your baby isn’t born yet. As you choose to follow them, you will find intuition a wonderful tool to use throughout your parenting journey.
To learn more about intuition and how it can be an important tool in Enjoying Your Birth, please download my free E-Book. The Top Three Tips to Enjoy Your Birth.