Having a PhD in science makes my job as a mother easier, but maybe not in the ways that you might expect.
My PhD is in Nutrition, so you would think that getting my kid to eat well would come easy for me. Unfortunately, that has not been the case.
I’ve logged more than two years of postdoc research on fetal programming, which is basically how the uterine environment affects outcomes in babies. You might think that this has helped me to do everything right during my pregnancy. Instead, I think it just led to more worry about all of the ways I might be damaging my unborn child. Stress! Sugar! BPA! Lab chemical exposure! OMG! More stress!
Sure, I have had access to more scientific information than the average mother. Sometimes this is helpful. But sometimes it is not. For instance, knowing how to do a literature search to answer my parenting questions often leads to further sleep deprivation, especially since slogging through Pubmed hits leads me to come out on the other side with more confusion. Sometimes my drive to find scientific answers for my parenting questions just distracts me from my instinct – not that my maternal instinct is all that amazing, but I do know my baby better than anyone else in the world.
So how does being a scientist make parenting easier for me? As a scientist mother, I trust other scientists. And I trust doctors. I even trust government agencies, which bring together the best scientists and doctors in a field to review the research and make recommendations for the good of public health.
I trust scientists and doctors because I have worked side-by-side with them for a decade, and I know that they are not only knowledgeable, but by and large, they are overwhelmingly good people. At some point, you have to trust someone. For me, those “someones” are scientists and doctors.