Motherhood rocked my world. Where was the village?

In our modern world, I need to work a little harder to create my village.

Motherhood rocked my world. Where was the village?

Women have been raising babies since the beginning of time.

Mothers have been doing this for millions of years.

“Don’t worry, your baby will just know what to do,” they say.

So why am I so confused?

These were the resounding messages I heard during my pregnancy and I really believed them. Deep down I just knew that my body, my brain, and my baby would have an immediate and powerful connection that enabled everything to work smoothly. She would know how to breastfeed because that’s what she was born to do. She would eventually figure out how to sleep because that’s what she needs to do. We are an evolved species after all, aren’t we?


I rejected the notion of lactation consultants, support groups, sleep consultants, etc. because I just knew that my baby and I would figure it all out together. Our parents didn’t have all of these newfangled resources. Their parents didn’t have developmentally appropriate toys or consultants on call. And didn’t we all turn out OK ?

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After spending the last few months sleep-deprived, frustrated, and riddled with guilt….I broke. We made the decision to hire a sleep consultant. I was convinced that she would just learn how to sleep on her own or that we would fall into a natural rhythm that made sense for her. But after months of multiple night wakings, cranky mornings, and anxious nights I just couldn’t see any other way out. I convinced myself that I had instilled bad habits and essentially created a sleep-averse monster. I was distraught that I couldn’t figure this out on my own. It seemed so unnatural to read countless books and articles to teach my baby how to sleep. Shouldn’t she and I just know how to do that?

Then I had a realization that has changed how I see motherhood.

Those women who knew how to do this millions of years ago were probably just as confused. The difference is that they had a literal village to show them how it’s done. Mothers, aunts, grandmothers, fathers, uncles, cousins, and neighbors, who could show them the ropes. We have moved away from communal living, joint families, and truly allowing a traditional village to raise our babies. No wonder I have no idea what I’m doing.

Watching babies being raised was never part of my everyday life. It was not something I saw on a regular basis. It didn’t even just happen in the background like I imagine it did when we lived more communally. Isn’t it ironic that the first time we really learn the details about being pregnant and having a baby is when we have entered that phase of life? There are countless things I had NO idea about (hello lochia, meconium, and the existence of my perineum). I didn’t know what a breast pump looked like, let alone how it worked (and now I have a very intimate, albeit troubled, relationship with my pump). Why is being pregnant and raising kids no longer part of our collective lives? It is hidden away under nursing covers,airplane shame, and the old adage “children should be seen and not heard.”

This article really helped me understand the cognitive dissonance I was feeling as a new mother. “When we see or hear something, mirror neurons record and remember it as if we are performing the action… until very recently women didn’t need to be taught how to breastfeed. Their mirror neurons already knew. When they gave birth, mothers in the past were familiar with how to nurse their babies because they saw it growing up.”

Essentially, it’s the “monkey see, monkey do” phenomenon. The problem is…we aren’t seeing much these days! My images of breastfeeding were acquired through….wait for it….a class at the hospital about breastfeeding. I have no memories of actually seeing women breastfeed. I feel the same way about sleep. Do other babies cry it out, wake up multiple times at night, only want to sleep in their parent’s bed? I know that each baby and family is different but when you have no real vision of what is out there, everything you are experiencing can seem “out of the ordinary.”

So, I have accepted that I need to work a little harder to create my village. This new village includes a doula who ushered me into motherhood, daycare teachers who love and care for my baby every day, lactation consultants who help me understand how to do this breastfeeding thing, sleep consultants who can show me the ropes, friends who have become family, and random strangers who smile at me and give me advice.

Here is what I promise to keep in mind as I go through this journey of motherhood:

—I will not keep holding myself to the ideals of my ancestors because things have fundamentally changed and that is ok. (And who is to say that this wasn’t hard for them either!)

—Just because we are doing things differently these days it doesn’t mean that it’s wrong or unnatural. Times are a changing.

I will continue to trust my instincts.

—I will not apologize or feel guilty for asking for help, in whatever form that may come.

**I chose to use the term “motherhood” in my writing because it’s what came naturally to me. I recognize and value all types of parents. We all face the same joys and challenges no matter who we are.

**I would be remiss not to mention how lucky/privileged I am to be able to avail myself of the resources I talk about. How do we enable more people to get the support they need?

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By its very nature, motherhood requires some lifestyle adjustments: Instead of staying up late with friends, you get up early for snuggles with your baby. Instead of spontaneous date nights with your honey, you take afternoon family strolls with your little love. Instead of running out of the house with just your keys and phone, you only leave with a fully loaded diaper bag.

For breastfeeding or pumping mamas, there is an additional layer of consideration around when, how and how much your baby will eat. Thankfully, when it comes to effective solutions for nursing or bottle-feeding your baby, Dr. Brown's puts the considerations of mamas and their babies first with products that help with every step of the process—from comfortably adjusting to nursing your newborn to introducing a bottle to efficiently pumping.

With countless hours spent breastfeeding, pumping and bottle-feeding, the editors at Motherly know the secret to success is having dependable supplies that can help you feed your baby in a way that matches lifestyle.

Here are 9 breastfeeding and pumping products to help you no matter what the day holds.

Customflow™ Double Electric Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's electric pump

For efficient, productive pumping sessions, a double electric breast pump will help you get the job done as quickly as possible. Quiet for nighttime pumping sessions and compact for bringing along to work, this double pump puts you in control with fully adjustable settings.


Hands-Free Pumping Bra

Dr. Brown''s hands free pumping bra

Especially in the early days, feeding your baby can feel like a pretty consuming task. A hands-free pumping bra will help you reclaim some of your precious time while pumping—and all mamas will know just how valuable more time can be!


Manual Breast Pump with SoftShape™ Silicone Shield

Dr. Brown's manual breast pump

If you live a life that sometimes takes you away from electrical outlets (that's most of us!), then you'll absolutely want a manual breast pump in your arsenal. With two pumping modes to promote efficient milk expression and a comfort-fitted shield, a manual pump is simply the most convenient pump to take along and use. Although it may not get as much glory as an electric pump, we really appreciate how quick and easy this manual pump is to use—and how liberating it is not to stress about finding a power supply.


Nipple Shields and Sterilization Case

Dr. Brown's nipple shields

There is a bit of a learning curve to breastfeeding—for both mamas and babies. Thankfully, even if there are some physical challenges (like inverted nipples or a baby's tongue tie) or nursing doesn't click right away, silicone nipple shields can be a huge help. With a convenient carry case that can be sterilized in the microwave, you don't have to worry about germs or bacteria either. 🙌


Silicone One-Piece Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's silicone pump

When you are feeding your baby on one breast, the other can still experience milk letdown—which means it's a golden opportunity to save some additional milk. With a silent, hands-free silicone pump, you can easily collect milk while nursing.


Breast to Bottle Pump & Store Feeding Set

After a lifetime of nursing from the breast, introducing a bottle can be a bit of a strange experience for babies. Dr. Brown's Options+™ and slow flow bottle nipples were designed with this in mind to make the introduction to bottles smooth and pleasant for parents and babies. As a set that seamlessly works together from pumping to storing milk to bottle feeding, you don't have to stress about having everything you need to keep your baby fed and happy either.


Washable Breast Pads

washable breast pads

Mamas' bodies are amazingly made to help breast milk flow when it's in demand—but occasionally also at other times. Especially as your supply is establishing or your breasts are fuller as the length between feeding sessions increase, it's helpful to use washable nursing pads to prevent breast milk from leaking through your bra.


Breast Milk Storage Bags

Dr. Brown's milk storage bags

The essential for mamas who do any pumping, breast milk storage bags allow you to easily and safely seal expressed milk in the refrigerator or freezer. Dr. Brown's™ Breast Milk Storage Bags take it even further with extra thick walls that block out scents from other food items and feature an ultra secure lock to prevent leaking.


Watch one mama's review of the new Dr. Brown's breastfeeding line here:

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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