Motherhood and Feeding Pressures

You may not know this about me, but half of my children were grown on asiago cheese bagels with plain cream cheese and Chick Fil A’s waffle fries. I gained more weight than “they say you should.” Yet, looking back I was paranoid. Thank goodness I was much more relaxed during my fourth pregnancy. But, during those first three, I felt inadequate.

 My lack of veggies, inability to keep down a prenatal, and the weight always made me feel guilt. I think every mom feels this, but my credentials added to it. Thankfully, my OBGYN and my spouse always reminded me that I was doing the best I could. Moms, you are doing the best that you can. Let’s take a little pressure off!

 From the time a mother becomes pregnant the health of her child is all on her. At least it feels that way. From what she eats to how much she weighs during pregnancy. Hey, even before she gets pregnant fertility is often tied to how she nourishes her body. The child’s health “they say” is also determined on how the mother delivered. Did she formula fed or breastfed? For how long? Then there’s the introduction to foods. Did you use purees? Make your own? Use pouches? Did you do baby led weaning? Don’t even get me started on that. As someone who always just fed my kid what we ate and really in differing orders with each kid, WHY DO WE HAVE TO GIVE A LABEL TO EVERYTHING WE DO? Just feed your kids…

 The responsibility of feeding children lies solely on the mother. And all the circumstances I mentioned above have some merit. But when we break it down that’s a ton of pressure on mom! This pressure causes mothers to feel stressed out, confused, and frustrated when it comes to feeding their kids. They believe the totality of their child’s health is all on them. If something goes awry, its all their fault. To that I say, not true.

Dear moms, so much of your child’s health is out of your control. Please don’t blame yourself. As for food, it’s important but not the most important.

 When I was pregnant with my fourth baby, my sister was also pregnant with her second. She took a prenatal and ate way more veggies than I did. Her baby was born with gastroschisis and was in the NICU for over three months. Thanks to modern medicine and a lot of prayers, she’s a happy and spunky three-year-old. I took my baby home from the hospital 48 hours after she was born.

My first and fourth baby were breastfed the longest. Both had severe, continuous ear infections that required tubes. I thought breastfed babies had lower rates of ear infections… in my experience, that wasn’t the case. The two babies I did give formula to never had a single ear infection.

One of my children had severe digestive issues for several years. I tried everything, including a gluten-free and dairy free diet. Did it help? No. What did help? Anxiety medication, fiber supplements, and therapy. Really.

 I am not here to say that nutrition isn’t important. I have two degrees in nutrition. Clearly, I have some belief in it. However, in my professional and personal experience food hasn’t ever proven to be a cure all or the sole consequence for any condition. What I do know, our bodies thrive on enough food and enough variety. I also know that anxiety is real and the symptoms from it either for yourself or your child can certainly feel like there might be a sensitivity. But, let’s not be so quick to blame food for everything. Let’s pause and take a look at the whole picture. And no more blaming yourself.

Devrie Pettit