Bringing Up Bébé: Breastfeeding & The ‘Perfect’ Mom

Welcome to week four of this book study and we’re officially halfway through! I am so appreciative of the ladies who have either joined in the conversation through the comments, linked up to share their thoughts, or even co-hosted with me. I have learned so much, and continue to do so, as I’ve read through the first eight chapters and I can’t wait to see what other kinds of French wisdom lies beyond the next corner. lisa two martinis.001

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I am excited to introduce to you our next guest blogger! Please welcome Lisa from the blog Two Martinis! She’s currently pregnant with her second child, who is due in April, and spends her time loving on her adorable son. When discussing which chapters she’d like to discuss, Lisa was pretty adamant about guest blogging for these particular chapters about breastfeeding and returning to work. I too, found myself (for the first time I might add, during this reading) at odds with the French practice related to the length of time a new mom breastfeeds and stays home with their newborn.

Without further adieu, here’s Lisa and her thoughts on chapters 7 & 8!


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Hi! I’m Lisa and I write over at my lifestyle blog, ‘Two Martinis’. I spend my days running around after my toddler and incubating a tiny little human who will be born in April! This whole motherhood thing is exhausting and so rewarding. I’ve found ‘Bringing Up Bebe’ to be fairly thought provoking, and I’m happy to be able to share my thoughts on chapters 7 & 8 with you! I found these chapters especially interesting because I’m a huge fan of breastfeeding and I’m also a stay-at-home mom. I guess I don’t have that much in common with French moms, but we’ll get into that…

Bebe Au Lait

The way Pamela Druckerman describes French women throughout this book (“Bringing up Bebe”) is fascinating to me, but especially so in this chapter, in which French moms come across as put together, happy, and even (gasp) sexy, albeit somewhat unfriendly.

The first difference she identifies between American moms and French moms, directly after the birth of a baby, is that French mothers don’t breastfeed, or at least they don’t breastfeed for longer than a few days. Now, I’m not sure what the statistics are around this assertion, but I find it pretty shocking in general. I guess, living in America, I was under the impression that everyone knows the benefits of breastfeeding, and they at least try to stick with it for a few weeks, if not months or years. Personally, I nursed my daughter for the first year of her life and then I still nursed her a few times each day until she was around 18 months old, at which point my milk supply dried up from pregnancy. Anyway, the thought that French moms don’t even try to breastfeed because of the inconvenience factor seems really counterintuitive to me, but I definitely see how it would make their lives a bit easier/more convenient!

Druckerman describes, “French mothers generally aren’t won over by the health arguments involving IQ points and secretory IgA. What does persuade them to nurse, he says, is the claim that both they and the baby will enjoy it. Many French mothers would surely like to breast-feed longer than they do. But they don’t want to do it under moral duress or flaunt it at two-year-olds’ birthdays. Powdered milk may be worse for babies, but in no doubt makes the early months of motherhood a lot more relaxing for French moms.”

Druckerman then goes on to describe that French women are very dedicated to losing ‘baby weight’ within a few months, postpartum. So, it appears, from this book, that French moms aren’t opposed to inconveniences when it comes to their appearances, even though they can’t be inconvenienced for their baby’s health. (Sorry if that statement seems harsh, it’s just what I got from this particular chapter!) And their bodies aren’t the only thing that French women want to claim back postpartum, they also want their pre-baby identities back, which means using child care and going back to work and having a house that isn’t overrun with baby toys, and generally fitting the baby into their lives instead of the other way around.

“In France, the dominant social message is that while being a parent is very important, it shouldn’t subsume one’s other roles.”

I guess the piece I’m missing in this chapter is… what about the kids?

Yes, I can see how it would be great if I could spend money on part-time child care so that I could go to the gym and get my pre-baby body back quicker (although, sidenote, breastfeeding made me lose the weight within a month or so… muscle tone, however, was a whole different story), but I didn’t have the energy to do this when my baby was still a newborn. If I had a few extra hours, I was resting or relaxing or cuddling my baby or doing other things I enjoyed. Yes, I worked out, but I didn’t pressure myself to do it just so I could look great.

What message does it send to children that having a baby is an ‘inconvenience’ and something that must be gotten over quickly? While I agree that women should maintain a semblance of their pre-baby identities and be more than ‘just’ a mom, I also think that it’s completely unrealistic that moms shouldn’t expect their entire world to change after having a baby.

I don’t think that moms are martrys, so I don’t think that they should act like sacrificing themselves is necessary or even admirable. I think that parents should go on date nights regularly and moms should work out and have careers (if that’s what they want to do) and maintain relationships with friends.

That being said, bodies change, marriages change, family dynamics change, careers can change, relationships with friends change, priorities change, routines change… everything changes! I find that the most frustrated parents seem to be the ones who aren’t accepting of this and continue to try to fit a square peg in a round hole – meaning their child into a non-child-friendly life. I think that having the expectation that life can simply continue on as usual, even with an additional family member, is unrealistic at best and potentially harmful at worst.

The Perfect Mother Doesn’t Exist

Did you know that, according to Druckerman, almost all French women go back to work after having a baby? I didn’t! Evidently, this is made easier by government run day cares. This is another chapter that had me scratching my head… I love staying at home with my daughter and I’m simply surprised that more French women don’t stay at home if they can afford to. I guess in America financial concerns are a major factor for women to either go back to work or stay at home, and those concerns are made easier in France, since with cheap daycare, it’s almost a no-brainer that a woman working is better for her family’s financial situation. So the stereotypical French mom is a working mom with a ton on her plate, who spends a large portion of her time away from her child, doing adult-type things and leaving the education of her child(ren) to the very-skilled daycare providers.

And then Druckerman goes on to describe the ‘stereotypical’ American parent whose “one-year-old had at-home tutors in French, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese. When her child was two, the mother dropped the French but added lessons in art, music, swimming, and some sort of math. Meanwhile, the mother, who’d quit her job as a management consultant, was spending most of her time applying to two dozen preschools.” The assertion is basically that Americans have the tendency to be overly involved with their children in general. That we follow our kids around the playground, narrating every step they take, while French moms sit on the periphery and simply observe.

Here, I guess I’m more French, because I simply don’t have the will nor the energy to narrate Clara’s every move, and I certainly don’t have her signed up for any language classes. To each parent their own, and I certainly know a couple of moms who fit into the American stereotype Druckerman describes, but I think that generally moms in America don’t relate to that at all. The moms I know are more concerned with getting through their days in one piece, and less concerned about their child’s collegiate prospects before they enter preschool. I wonder if our media simply makes it seem like American parents are more overly-involved than they actually are, or whether this is a breed of parent that only exists in certain parts and societies of America.

For American mothers, guilt is an emotional tax we pay for going to work, not buying organic vegetables, or plopping our kids in front of the television so we can surf the Internet or make dinner. If we feel guilty, it’s easier to do these things. We’re not just selfish. We’ve ‘paid’ for our lapses.” She continues, “French mothers absolutely recognize the temptation to feel guilty. They feel as overstretched and inadequate as we Americans do. After all, they’re working while bringing up small children. And like us, they often aren’t living up to their own standards as workers or parents. The difference is that French mothers don’t valorize this guilt. To the contrary, they consider it unhealthy and unpleasant, and they try to banish it.”

Here I will say, that if this description is true, French women have it right.

This chapter concludes with my favorite sentence in the book thus far. A Parisian friend of Druckerman assesses herself as a mother with this simple response, “In general I don’t doubt whether I’m good enough, because I really think I am.”

I can fully identify with this. I actually don’t feel a lot of guilt when it comes to my 18-month-old daughter. I had almost no anxiety when she was born and I still don’t feel worried about her health, future, temperament, etc. I also don’t concern myself with what she’s doing at every second or what she’s thinking or how what I’m doing is affecting her. Quite simply, I do the best I can every day and that’s more than good enough for me. I can’t explain what makes me a laid-back and confident parent, I just know that it seems natural to me. I don’t feel guilty and I don’t think I’m a bad mom. I’m certainly the best mom my daughter is ever going to have, which I plan to remind her of when it gets closer to Mothers Day. Anyway, if you’re a mom I hope you can say something similar. I hope that you feel good enough, because you are.

To Link Up:

  1. Link up your blog post relating to this book study (not a link to your blog) and chapters discussed.
  2. I encourage you all to visit and leave meaningful comments to each of the ladies who are linking up.
  3. Tweet or Instagram your posts and this book study with the hashtag #bebebookstudy so we can easily find each other!
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Lisa is a lifestyle blogger at ‘Two Martinis‘. She loves writing about a little bit of everything, but the topics closest to her heart are marriage, pregnancy, and motherhood. Through her writing, she hopes to encourage other women and mothers in whatever stage of life they’re in. 

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Bringing Up Bébé: Tiny Humans and Day Cares

Happy Sunday everyone and welcome back for week 3 in our book study of *Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman! Over the course of the last two weeks we’ve been really jumping in with great conversation about the American vs French approach to parenting. I’ve been really enjoying this book and learning so much thus far and I hope you are too!

If you’re a first time visitor and are curious about this book study, be sure to check out all the details on the book study page. I’d love to have you join whether it’s just in the comments, writing up your own reflection post and linking up, or even snagging a guest spot! Oh, and don’t worry – this book is perfect for all women regardless of if you’re expecting, already have children, or have no children but are curious about parenting and learning new Jedi mind tricks.

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tiny little humans

Being an educator and having spent a large portion of my early twenties studying child development and just how children learn, this latest chapter not only has me reminiscing about all those classes I took in the years past, but also has me changing my perspective from teacher to future parent. This chapter really digs into the core of French parenting in regards to how kids learn and who they are as growing individuals. Piaget is thrown in there along with Rousseau to give the reader a bit of a history/philosophy lesson on early child development and how that shapes not only French parenting, but the foundation of parenting as a whole.

I agree with Pamela’s assertion that the ‘American Question’ has always been: How can we speed these stages up? Piaget’s theory is based in that children should reach their milestones as they discover the world around them and that speeding up this process is neither possible nor desirable for the child.

“We Americans assign ourselves the job of pushing, stimulating, and carrying our kids from one developmental stage to the next. The better we are at parenting, we think, the faster our kids will develop” (pg. 82).

I constantly hear conversations amongst parents, friends of mine who are parents, and others discuss what fancy classes or prestigious preschools they’re enrolling their kids in – all in efforts to give them the edge above all the other kids, and not to mention the parents. I don’t personally believe that a child’s ability to reach a milestone is any indication of what good/bad of a parent you are – however I do understand this pressure parents put on themselves. I see it all the time.

Something that spoke to me was this French concept of a child “awakening” and “discovering” the world on their own and in their own timing. It occurred to me while I was reading that all of a sudden I feel validated in my teaching style and how that will translate to me as a parent. I’ve always had a firm, but gentle, approach to children and believing that we should offer them controlled choices. This is referred to as cadre, or a framework, in which children have very firm boundaries set by the adults, but are given the freedom of choice within those boundaries. It gives the child the feeling of being able to decide for themselves, but within the confines of adult-set boundaries or expectations. It’s amazing to see this described across the board both in French homes and child centers.

We, as adults, should offer our children controlled choices. This is referred to as cadre, or a framework, in which children have very firm boundaries set by the adults, but are given the freedom of choice within those boundaries. It gives the child the feeling of being able to decide for themselves, but within the confines of adult-set boundaries or expectations. It’s amazing to see this described across the board. Establish cadre in your own home with these easy-to-implement steps!

Download your FREE printable!

A major takeaway from this chapter for me was how the French envision children as these tiny little humans that are capable of understanding and learning, even fresh out of the shoot. I’m loving this idea of bringing baby home and introducing them to the home, talking to them and explaining the routines, introducing them to the family pets, etc.

Pamela describes an example of this ability to educate when her daughter was only about 10 months old. Her daughter had learned to pull herself up and soon begin pulling books off of a bookshelf. Pamela admits that she would just go behind her and clean up, whereas a French friend of hers one day interjects and kneels down beside her daughter and calmly explains that, “we don’t do that.” She then proceeds to show the young babe how to put the books back and tells her to leave them there. Pamela says the shocking part was that her daughter listened to her friend and actually obeyed her. It proved that even at 10 months old, her daughter was capable of understanding and learning a bit of self-control – something the French instill in their children very early on.

I certainly believe that babies are extremely observational, even rational, little people and should be treated as such.

Do/did you ever feel the pressure to keep up with The Jones’?

day care?

Did anyone else find themselves getting a bit jealous while reading this chapter about French day cares, or crèches? I personally loved the history lesson on how they were established, and even how the concept was brought over to America, to assist poor working-class mothers. Eventually, and like anything, these crèches evolved over time and now all kinds of variations of the centers are available.

The other thing that caught my attention, and inner educator, is the intense training all caregivers and auxiliaries de puériculture have to go through in order to even look after these little ones. First theres an entrance exam, out of about 500 applicants only about 30 will be selected to go to the training school. There, there’s extensive studies on reasoning, reading comprehension, math, and human biology. Those who pass and make it to the second round of training are given a psychological exam, an oral presentation, and interrogation by a panel of experts. THEN…those who pass that will go on to complete a year of coursework and internship, which of course is all set and determined by the French government. It doesn’t take much for anyone to realize that to work in a day care center in France is a career – a concept that is absent here in America.

I’ve truly enjoyed these last few chapters and I love how Pamela seamlessly connects one chapter to the next. I’ve got all kinds of ideas floating around in my mind about how I’d like to approach this whole parenting thing. It doesn’t seem as scary or unpredictable as it once did. I think reading through this book and having you all to talk it out with has really helped me get a handle on what to really expect!

Join us next week for chapters 7 & 8!
Also, there’s a guest post spot open for this week so if you’re interested please email me!

To Link Up:

  1. Link up your blog post relating to this book study (not a link to your blog) and chapters discussed
  2. I encourage you all to visit and leave meaningful comments to each of the ladies who are linking up
  3. Tweet or Instagram your posts and this book study with the hashtag #bebebookstudy so we can easily find each other!
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Bringing Up Bébé: The Art of Doing Their Nights

I can’t believe we are in week two of this book study! We’re reading all about the secrets to babies “doing their nights,” or otherwise known as sleeping through the night – even at just a few weeks old. I was completely fascinated with these two chapters as we learned more about how French mothers not only get their babies sleeping soundly each night, but a key to this feat is something known as le pause.

Join me in welcoming Iryna from We Are Moms as she discusses her thoughts on chapters three and four!

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New to this book study? Join us, and other bloggers, as we dive into learning the ways of French parenting through our reading of Pamela Druckerman’s hit book, Bringing Up Bébé. Find more information and how you can join in the discussion by visiting the book study page!


As a mom of a 2.8 year child who doesn’t sleep through the night, the chapter about baby’s sleep was particularly compelling to me.

doing her nights

When I first read that French kids start “doing their nights” from as early as 6 weeks old, I was stunned. How is it even possible? The talk is not only about some random child who started his all night sleep at a very young age. Pamela Druckerman, the author of Bringing Up Bébé, describes it as a very common experience among French babies.

It is quite fascinating how the author’s method of getting her daughter to sleep resembles my own methods. Since my daughter rarely fell asleep during nursing, I had to rock her in my arms until she would doze off. Then followed the ritual of keeping her in my arms for 15 minutes or so (because according to a theory, these first minutes of sleep are light sleep and you don’t want to wake up a baby before putting her in a crib).

As you can imagine, the routine was far from teaching a child an independent sleep and even further from “doing the nights.”

That’s why when I read the first sentences of kids starting to sleep through the night at 6 weeks old, I craved immediate answers. I needed to know, what are these French parents doing differently and whether I can change my parenting technique to achieve that long awaited night’s rest.

There is one thing, that worths to be mentioned about France. The country is often criticised about its approach to breastfeeding and its very low rates in comparison to other European countries. Many people believe that bottle fed babies begin to sleep better at a much younger age than breast fed babies. So, at first I thought that bottle feeding is the reason behind a good sleep.

But as I continued reading the chapter, the author pointed out that type of feeding doesn’t make a crucial difference in a baby’s sleep pattern. Bottle feeding is not the reason why French babies sleep well. 

wait!

As the author attempts to dig deeper into the sleep secrets, she discovers one small detail, that finally sheds a light on why French babies sleep. And the secret is in a “pause.”

Instead of rushing to a crying baby after every single peep, first, try to carefully listen and observe. Did he really wake up or maybe he’s making noises in his sleep? Does it seem like the baby’s hungry or having a dirty diaper? You just need a couple of minutes to get things clarified before responding.

At this point, it’s important to distinguish between waiting a few minutes before attending to a baby versus letting him cry-it-out. In fact, most French mothers don’t condone the latter method.

As a French paediatrician Michel Cohen, whom the author met in New York, put it: “My first intervention is to say, when your baby is born, just don’t jump on your kid at night,” Cohen says. “Give your baby a chance to self-soothe, don’t automatically respond, even from birth.”

putting these strategies into practice

I finally start to realise, that it might be the reason I was long searching for why my daughter doesn’t do her nights. When she was born, people told me about “the pause”, but I totally disregarded this advice. I responded to every single noise because I thought she was up and ready to play.

There are a couple of reasons why babies wake up at night. One of them is that babies make a lot of noise in their sleep and we can misunderstand these sounds as a demand for food. Another reason is that babies wake up between sleep cycles. And it’s normal if they cry a little bit. If we wait a couple of minutes before responding, the baby will learn how to connect these sleep cycles by himself.

In order to clarify that truth, I went a little further and I joined a Facebook group of French “mamans”. I felt an urge to know if all this information was true. Given that, I explained myself in English, I had only few responders who could understand me and give me a clear answer.

And their answer was: YES! French babies indeed start to sleep through the night early on. Voila!

As one woman described it, – she would wait 2-3 minutes before responding to baby’s cry and then she would go in and comfort him. Her first son started sleeping through the night at 6 weeks old and second at 2-3 months old. 

Isn’t that cool?

breastfeeding

Now, what about breastfeeding at night? Many parents know that if you don’t feed a baby at night, your milk will dry out.

But as a person who dropped night feeds when my daughter was 21 months old and then continued nursing only few times a day for 3 more months, I have some doubts in this theory. In a former Soviet Union, doctors advised against breastfeeding during the night. Therefore, my mom didn’t give me milk at night but successfully kept nursing during the day.

If many French parents don’t feed their babies at night, would it mean they are starving their children and all kids are underweight? I highly doubt that. Instead, the mothers try to tank up their babies as much as possible during the day so that a baby wasn’t hungry at night. Makes sense? It does to me.

What also intrigued me in this educational overview of French parenting is that all kids  follow the same feeding schedule as adults. They have breakfast, lunch, dinner and afternoon snack. And French see it as a common sense. They start to incorporate a 4 meal day rule at a very young age, as early as 4 months old, gradually easing babies into a schedule.

independence in infants

What surprises me even more is that French children are capable to wait long stretches between feeds without whining or crying.

Feels like these French have perfect babies, who sleep and eat well. But how did they achieve such an unquestioning obedience? It turns out, the secret lies in that same old “pause”.

French parents apply “the pause” rule not only for sleep issues, but for everyday matters as well. If a child wants something that a parent cannot give him right away, the parent will simple say “wait”. And some crying is considered normal, because a child needs to understand and respect that some things cannot be done his way.

French parents expect from younger kids the same discipline as from the older ones and give them a lot of opportunities to learn how to cope with the frustration of not getting what they want.

It’s also important for French that kids could play by themselves. And here I think to myself: Yay, finally, there’s at least something that I can see a resemblance with those parents. I never have a problem to make a phone call or do some other home chores without being interrupted. My daughter can easily play by herself. She learnt that mama can be busy with other chores and cannot play with her all the time.

After reading these two chapters, the whole French parenting thing started to make sense to me. Why didn’t I use these simple yet effective “pause,” and “wait” techniques when my daughter was much younger? I’m confident that the earlier you start these life teaching lessons, the easier it will become later on when your child grows and develops his personality. In my observation in American culture as well as in some other cultures, parents don’t expect much from small babies. French parents instead, take the infancy very seriously and consider it as an important stage to teach important life lessons.

iryna we are moms

Iryna is a lifestyle blogger at www.wearemoms.org and writes about all things that are dear to her heart. She has a major interest in pregnancy/childbirth and parenting topics. Iryna loves good food and gladly shares most loved by her family recipes on the blog.

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To Link Up:

  1. Link up your blog post relating to this book study (not a link to your blog) and chapters discussed.
  2. I encourage you all to visit and leave meaningful comments to each of the ladies who are linking up.
  3. Tweet or Instagram your posts and this book study with the hashtag #bebebookstudy so we can easily find each other!
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Bringing Up Bébé: Paris and Pregnancy

Hi everyone and welcome to the first official day of this book study! I am so excited to link up with you all and discuss what spoke to us during our reading of chapters one and two: are you waiting for baby? and paris is burping. I am so thrilled to not only be reading this book, one I’ve been meaning to do my whole pregnancy, but to be reading and discussing it right along with you. It makes navigating these parental waters much less anxiety-filled (especially for this soon to be first-time-mom) and my hope is that other ladies out there find this book to be as helpful and resourceful as I’ve found it to be.

Hi everyone and welcome to the first official day of this book study! I am so excited to link up with you all and discuss what spoke to us during our reading of chapters one and two: are you waiting for baby? and paris is burping. I am so thrilled to not only be reading this book, one I’ve been meaning to do my whole pregnancy, but to be reading and discussing it right along with you. It makes navigating these parental waters much less anxiety-filled (especially for this soon to be first-time-mom) and my hope is that other ladies out there find this book to be as helpful and resourceful as I’ve found it to be.

the critics

Let’s first get something out of the way that kind of bothered me and something I think is important to address head on for those who are picking up this book for the first time.

*Many critics of Bringing Up Bébé have suggested that Pamela Druckerman wrote with a pro-France attitude and claims that American parenting, or specifically American mothers if we’re being frank, are doing things all wrong or that somehow French babies are better than American babies – a claim I have yet to gleam from her. It was actually quite refreshing that she doesn’t describe her experience as some romanticized love affair with The City of Light the way we all imagine, have seen in movies, or have felt ourselves as mere visitors. I appreciate her honesty when she describes, “New York likes it’s women to be a bit neurotic. They’re encouraged to create a brainy, adorable, conflicted bustle around themselves – á la Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally or Diane Keaton in Annie Hall” (pg. 15). Her transition from NYC American to foreign Parisian wasn’t without struggle or lacking the feeling of loneliness, which was an experience I’m sure anyone could easily relate to.

She even states early on that the central purpose behind this book isn’t to prove one theory is better than another…or even that she has a parenting theory at all. She’s simply making observations and, like anyone, is a mom who would love to learn the secret to getting a newborn to sleep through the night or not having to disguise food just to feed your child a vegetable.

*The Secret To French Parenting – The New Yorker
*Laissez-Moi Tranquil (I Googled That) – The Huffington Post

It’s important that we all approach this book study with an open mind about parenting and understand that good parenting comes in all sorts of forms. It should be known that this book only offers one perspective and is neither pro or anti anything, which makes this such a fun and easy read. Even if we/you/I disagree with any of her points, I hope it leads to meaningful discussion since we’re all in this together!

french children don’t throw food

To get us started I just have to say that I love how Pamela established her backstory with her readers within the first chapter. It was like a personal glimpse into her life prior to her husband, moving to Paris, and eventually getting married and waiting for a baby, as the French put it. I feel as though I can sit across from her, sipping on a cup of coffee, and discuss the nuances of our lives. Anyone else feel this way?

are you waiting for baby?

Within the first chapter I found myself able to eerily relate to her first experiences when she found out she was pregnant. The worry about even being able to get pregnant (“I’ve spent much of my adult life trying, very successfully, not to, so I have no idea whether I’m any good at the reverse” (pg. 18)), the overwhelming feeling of once I get pregnant to make sure I do everything right, and a slight initial addition to BabyCenter’s “Is It Safe?” column. As joyous as finding out you’re pregnant is, your mind cherishes that moment for a split second before it runs off into worry, anxiety and fear – at least it did for me and especially on the heels of a miscarriage. I thought by researching or scouring online websites and community boards that I’ll somehow find peace, but in actuality, like an episode of LOST, I find myself with no viable answers but 100 new questions.

American moms have this desire to become “experts in everything that can go wrong” (pg. 19) and no truer statement has been made. I feel as though Pamela is a girlfriend calling me out on my own BS. I remember becoming so overwhelmed by the “Debbie Downers” of the internet that told me everything I could do, eat, wear, or breathe that could possibly cause a miscarriage. It’s hard to be pregnant these days because everyone has an opinion, lifestyle choice, or philosophy on pregnancy that it sucks the fun and enjoyment out of being pregnant. If the internet wasn’t bad enough, don’t get me started on what she refers to the American pregnancy press. I’m not sure which is better, the internet or a pregnancy book telling me what I’m doing wrong.

As helpful as pregnancy books claim to be, does anyone else feel overwhelmed reading them? I want to feel prepared, but I feel only about 8% of the material actually applies to me and my pregnancy.

paris is burping

I am fascinated with the French approach to pregnancy. She introduces us to a French friend and mother, Samia, who drops off her two-year-old wearing high heels, red lipstick, and “the only French person I know who actually wears a beret” (pg. 26). She goes on to state that Samia has embraced conventional French understanding that just because you are pregnant or become a mother, you aren’t somehow within those 40 weeks any less of a woman. Sex should be encouraged (and regular during pregnancy), you should still care about what you look like, and food should be enjoyed – all foods within moderation, of course. My biggest takeaway from this chapter was:

“The point in France isn’t that anything goes. It’s that women should be calm and sensible” (pg. 27).

She goes on to discuss birth plans and how and in which way we bring our little ones into this world needs to be customized. We envision from the moment we find out we’re pregnant how exactly we want our birthing experience to go, however I’m convinced that birth plans rarely ever go truly as planned. I have a birth plan of sorts, but it’s less of a plan and more of a starting place for me to ask questions when we had our hospital tour. Questions such as: how many people allowed in the delivery room, can I request skin-to-skin contact right afterwards or does he need to be cleaned and checked first, will my husband be allowed to cut the umbilical cord, and will I be able to sleep overnight with my baby? Although these are preferences of mine, having these questions in mind helped me get a better understanding of how the hospital operated instead of me coming in with a bunch of demands.

At the end of the second chapter she glimmers over her birth story and introduces us to the debate over what Americans consider “natural” childbirth and the use of epidurals. I already am a firm believer in the use of managing pain with an epidural and plan to have one myself when the time comes. I had a good giggle to her description of the American attitude on the use of epidurals during labor as, “those among us who deliver ‘naturally’ strut around like war heroes” (pg. 32). I couldn’t help but laugh because it’s so true. I have yet to meet a woman who delivered without an epidural to discuss her birth as though she didn’t just earn a badge of honor and acceptance into a club of mothers who are somehow stronger than those who use drugs to assist with labor – god forbid you have a c-section (read: sarcasm).

Overall I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve read thus far and have found quite a few takeaways already. Now with her backstory explained and her daughter born, I’m excited to make our first jump into the belly of this book and begin learning the ways of French child rearing as it relates to sleeping through the night (chapter 3: doing her nights) and meal planning (chapter 4: wait!). Which brings me to…

iryna we are momsI am also really excited introduce you all to my very first co-host of this book study: Iryna of We Are Moms who will be a guest blogger next week (January 17th) as we discuss chapters 3 and 4!

To Link Up:

  1. Link up your blog post relating to this book study (not a link to your blog) and chapters discussed
  2. I encourage you all to visit and leave meaningful comments to each of the ladies who are linking up
  3. Tweet or Instagram your posts and this book study with the hashtag #bebebookstudy so we can easily find each other!
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