QUICK TIP: HOW TO NAVIGATE THE UNSOLICITED ADVICE
How does one discern which pieces of advice to heed and which to dismiss? For starters, trust your instincts. Your intuition is your most reliable guide for how to best care for your baby. Learn to listen to it and follow it when it feels right and safe to do so.
Check your own unconscious biases. The defaults that we see and hear can make us believe that the popular option must be the best or the safest. The default is assumed, whereas the exception requires explanation, usually with qualifying descriptors. For example, “birth” has been assigned to hospital birth, making homebirth or out-of-hospital birth the exception.
When listening to others’ advice, try to distinguish which recommendations are fear-based. These will often come in the form of warnings or stories about a “friend of a friend” and are usually not grounded in the adviser’s own experience. Advice is usually more useful when the giver can reference things that actually happened to them personally, and when they relate stories of what worked for them (rather than what went wrong). Support groups, whether in person or online, are particularly helpful because one question can be answered by multiple sources who, in all likelihood, have recently found a solution to a similar experience.
The best advice can be corroborated by up-to-date scientific research. However, to this point, remember that a lot of research pertaining to pregnancy and babies cannot be conducted blindly, for the obvious reason that it is unethical to experimentally cause negative outcomes in pregnant women and babies.
To hear more about this topic, you can listen to my interview on Episode 4 of Awakened Mothers podcast.