Mixed Messages- what do to when everyone is telling you something different?
Choosing your providers with care is the first step to a healthy outcome. They are your first line of defense when making full informed consent decisions about your care or your child’s care.
However, what do you do when your team disagrees?
I know it’s hard to be rational and logical when you are sleep deprived and emotional. Sometimes writing down notes or questions can help you keep track of everything that is being said. Often, bringing a support person to help listen and offer support can be helpful too. Understanding your providers’ goals and narratives can also help you understand their recommendations and thereby apply them as they are best for you and your family.
Take the example of a 2-week-old baby who is breastfed, slowly gaining weight, and likes to feed during the night.
A pediatrician will most likely be concerned with the baby’s overall health. The physician’s narrative might be that it doesn’t matter how the baby is being fed as long as the baby is gaining enough weight according to the growth charts.
A lactation consultant is usually focused on whether the baby is getting enough breast milk to grow and develop appropriately to meet the breastfed baby growth charts. The lactation consultant’s narrative might be that breast milk different from formula in that it requires time and patience in order for mom to build an appropriate milk supply. Lactation consultants believe strongly that breast milk is the best infant food.
The night nurse/family member/support person might be more concerned about what happens when they are there to help. Their narrative may be around a healthy sleep cycle and regular night-time feelings. They may use tools like swaddling and pacifiers to sleep train a baby.
Parents might find themselves in the middle of this triangle of information, trying to do the very best for their baby. First consider what is best for you and your family. Think about where the information is coming from and what the speaker’s intention is. Does their narrative match yours? Are their strategies shared with the appropriate intentions? Does their outcome match yours? Are the suggested strategies applicable to your situation?
The scenario may be different. You may be a pregnant mother trying to understand the value of a suggested induction. Or you may be trying to navigate postpartum support. The same strategy works for these situations. Consider the source of the information and what the speaker’s intention is. Trust your instincts as a new parent or parent-to-be. You know your body and your baby better than anyone else!