I’m a total bookworm. In my pre-Sonny Jim days, a week’s holiday would see me easily plough through about a dozen books. One of my thumbs actually bends back a bit further than it should, having spent so much of my formative years propping open hardbacks.
And yet when I was pregnant I did not read any parenting books. And when Sonny Jim arrived I didn’t crack open any guides to motherhood.
I’m not even sure why. I don’t know whether they just intimidated me a bit. Or if there was perhaps a bit of arrogance – me being determined to do it my way. Of course, there was always Dr Google, and a million different articles online which I often dipped into, but to be honest, I tended to seek out things that supported my own way of thinking – rather than looking for other people to tell what to do.
So I’ve found it super interesting that a new study has shown that parenting books that promote a strict sleeping and feeding routine could be making mothers more likely to experience postnatal depression.
The Swansea University research found that the more mothers read these books, the more likely they were to have symptoms of depression, low self-efficacy and to not feel confident as a parent.
Though 22 per cent of the 354 mothers with a baby aged 0-12 months reported that they felt calmer after reading the books, 53 per cent felt more anxious.
Lead study author Victoria Harries said: “It is easy to understand the appeal of these books if you are exhausted and worried about how often your baby is waking up. But almost half of mothers in the study ended up feeling frustrated and misled because they were unable to make the advice work. A fifth reported that they felt like a failure because of this.”
So, as a mama messing it up every bit as much as all you other mummies, this is a reminder to trust your instinct and do what feels right for you and your child. Your baby doesn’t need those books – they just need you.
This was first published in the Echo newspaper on Friday, October 1 2017: www.echo-news.co.uk