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"I have become one of those people, full of unasked-for advice."

If advice were a flock of seagulls, then a pregnant woman would be a hot chip at the beach.

Nothing attracts advice like a small child, or the potential of one.

I was driven distracted, pregnant with my first baby, with advice. Of course, all of it was well meaning, but none of it was helpful, particularly the unsought type.

Me. Driven to distraction. Image supplied.

And so, I swore I would never ever give a pregnant woman or a fellow mother any kind of advice. I was determined to be that one friend or acquaintance you could count on to just listen and nod. I did not want to add to the problem.

In fact when I was asked, “have you got any advice?” I would answer, “my only advice is don’t listen to any advice.”

I hope I have managed to keep this promise to myself. (And if you know me, and I haven’t, I am eternally sorry.)

But, now that I have finished having babies and as I slowly put the identity of new mother behind me, I find myself ever more silently shouting advice to women in my head while outwardly listening and nodding.

I am desperate to offer my wisdom to every new mother and mother-to-be I meet.

“Don’t listen to the midwives. Dummies are miraculous.”

“Have you thought about calmbirth? It’s really helpful.”

“If you’re after cloth nappies, I can totally recommend a brand.”

“No, you really should swaddle that baby. She’ll sleep much better if you do.”

“DO NOT ROCK THAT BABY TO SLEEP.”

Shit.

I have become my own worst nightmare.

Noooooooooooooo. Image via iStock.
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This is even more of a problem, because I have been blessed with the world’s easiest babies. I have no true insight into the hell of a sleepless, crying, cranky infant. I didn’t have any of those.

I listen to my girlfriends pour out their (completely justified) woes about waking several times a night to settle their children, while my internal dialogue runs a million miles an hour from ‘here, I have the solution’, to ‘OMG, Alys, you have no idea,’ to ‘just shut up, shut up, shut up.’

There is one place, though, where I can indulge my secret advice-compulsion shame, and that’s Facebook Mummy Groups.

These groups are ready-made meccas for women like me. I have so much pointless, useless, unhelpful advice to offer unsuspecting mothers who genuinely ask, ‘which dummy should I give my four week old’ (The cherry soother, from Big W. It’s like crack for babies.) and ‘my baby is waking every night at 4am, what should I do?’ (It’s cold. Put an extra blanket on before you go to bed.)

Is this what happens? Am I normal? Well, I assume I’m normal given how much advice there is out there.

What is it that happens to us, that turns us into these advice-proffering automatons?

I can only assume that in the same way we eventually forget the pain of contractions, and the burn of pushing a baby out of our bodies, we also forget the tsunami of unsought for, unhelpful advice that threatened to overwhelm us just a few short years ago.

Let this be my apology, in advance, to all my unsuspecting friends and acquaintances. I will try to hold back. But if I suddenly shout, “have you thought about topping her up with formula” at you, know this, my heart is in the right place even though I freely admit, I am the worst.

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