There are no do-overs in motherhood; some may go on to have more babies, but each is different, and once a decision is made, there might be no going back. Many moms think regret is inevitable. No matter how much reading and investigating a mom does, she's still going to look back and find something she wished she had done differently. Other moms become disappointed that they trusted in a medical system that told them what was best for them and took away choices they found out about only in hindsight.
There's no arguing that many elements of modern medicine and science have improved the birth experience and have lowered the risk of birth defects, injury and mortality rates in infants. However, more and more moms are regretting not thinking to ask questions about all the procedures and interventions.
In some cases, moms are surprised to find out that the medical recommendations that were supposed to be the best for baby ended up causing serious and even irreparable harm. This regret can turn into heart-wrenching guilt as moms struggle to forgive themselves for not somehow knowing better—but we don't know what we don't know, after all. Here are 20 questions these moms regret not asking beforehand.
20 How Long Will I Be Sad?
Some moms just know they're going to be wonderful moms. They're excited and they've done their birth plans, and then they bring baby home and suddenly feel adrift.
Postpartum depression can develop quietly and more quickly than new moms realize, and assuming it won't happen to them can be a big mistake, as per Jen Schwartz of Greatist.
She struggled for months to function full of guilt and shame, feeling that she couldn't reach out to talk about what was happening because it was her own personal failure—but PPD can strike any mom regardless of circumstance and is a mental health issue, not a sign of mom's failure.
19 It's Been A Month—Is Breastfeeding Supposed To Be So Hard?
Pain is subjective from person to person, but experts agree that pain during breastfeeding after a month isn't just a matter of sensititivy—something isn't right.
Many moms assume they're doing something wrong, and often, so do their doctors. Doctors and even lactation consultants assure moms that if they're doing it right, it should never hurt.
But moms like Jamie wish they'd had a better understanding of the entire breastfeeding process and that no matter how age-old the process of breastfeeding is, it can still be complicated and mysterious, as per Romper. Hearing other moms' experiences and finding a lactation consultant that isn't dismissive can be key.
18 Can You Tell Me About Tongue Tie?
Most women who later discover that their child has ankyloglossia—commonly referred to as tongue-tie—often blame themselves for their breastfeeding difficulties or switch to formula in sheer frustration.
Many doctors, nurses and even lactation consultants don't know what tongue-tie is and don't think to check when there are problems nursing, according to Fleur on Nurtured Child.
She was able to see the signs now, looking back, but at the time she dreaded breastfeeding and her child weaned to formula. She wishes she'd had the knowledge or better lactation support early on. Tongue-ties also affected her son's speech and his teeth placement.
17 Is This Birth Control Really Right For Me?
Getting pregnant too soon after giving birth is something most moms want to avoid to give their bodies time to heal and to give their new baby the attention he needs.
Doctors will often prescribe hormonal birth control pills to new moms, but studies are beginning to link some birth control pills with postpartum depression.
Claire Zulkey remembers that no one told her that some birth control pills could cause the extreme mood swings she felt daily, according to Mom.me. Her PPD became more extreme when she switched from one hormonal birth control to another—different doses can have different effects.
Many moms report their birth control triggering the development of issues like Progesterone Intolerance and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder—which most live with forever, like a constant state of mental illness. No Bueno!
16 What Are Midline and MTHFR Mutations?
Jackie Block hopes her heartbreak might be another mom's lifesaver. She was diagnosed with the MTHFR mutation after multiple losses but was able—with treatment—to bring to full-term a healthy baby, according to We Have Kids.
MTHFR is both the name of the gene and the enzyme produced by it, and a mutation can result in inefficient uptake of folate. Babies born to moms with one of the variations of mutations are especially at risk of being born with a midline or neural tube defects when consuming synthetic forms of folate.
What moms really need is L-methylfolate—the form folate must be in to cross the placenta. Many doctors don't test and aren't aware of the risks.
15 Is This Brain Fog Supposed To Last This Long?
Many moms who were later diagnosed with postpartum depression or anxiety report feeling like they had unshakable brain fog or 'Mommy brain' many days, according to a thread on The Bump.
The hardest part about the cloudiness that some of the women describe is that therapies they may have used before to deal with anxiety don't seem to work the same way, and many don't even realize they're feeling so foggy.
It's definitely important to ask sooner rather than later if the inability to focus and concentrate sticks around or it can lead to detachment or other more dangerous issues.
14 Verifying Vaccines: What Are The Real Pros and Cons?
There exists a plethora of credible research that showcase the dangers of injecting vaccine adjuvants like foreign fetal DNA, monkey and bovine DNA and neurotoxic aluminum. Because of this and the growing number of court cases awarding compensation to families of vaccine-injured children, more parents are questioning what cost these vaccines come with.
A growing body of evidence is indicating that some of the components of vaccines may be having some unintended and serious side effects on many children's development. One mom noted the connection between her son's history of autoimmune and developmental difficulties and his vaccination schedule, as per An Upstream Life.
She hopes parents do research and get additional medical opinions so that the vaccine decision can be an informed decision.
13 Can I Request A Midwife?
Many women in the US have no idea that they can choose a midwife or even a doula under their healthcare insurance, even at the hospital.
Even low-risk births in the US tend to be in the hospital with a number of monitors and under close supervision, with a medical doctor in attendance.
Moms with healthy, uncomplicated births often look back with a bit of regret that they couldn't at least make a choice because they didn't know the options they had for their birth experience, according to All The Nourishing Things. Often, accepted medical protocol leaves women feeling that pregnancy is like an illness.
12 Is My Flow Supposed To Change This Much?
Often, doctors give moms the impression that once pregnancy is over and the baby is born, her body will resume all the “normal” functions of before. Many women are surprised to find their period—once it returns—is a lot different than it was.
Some mothers experience a lot of anxiety when they find they have developed Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) and wonder why their doctor simply glossed over this possibility, according to Circle Of Moms.
Moms have plenty to adjust to after giving birth, and the uncertainty that a changing period can bring is unsettling to many.
11 Do I Have To Give Birth In A Hospital?
A surprising number of women in the US find that between their health insurance and the local laws, they don't have a lot of choices in how and where they give birth—and those are the ones who are aware that the hospital isn't the only option, according to Improving Birth.
Many mothers don't realize that they didn't actually need that C-section, or that the painful induction and invasive exams during labor aren't medically necessary for the health of the baby.
Home births are currently on the rise in the US—which has reignited the debate over where babies should be born—but there is far less regret in the informed decision than the uninformed.
10 Isn't It Too Soon For Cereal?
The first solid food that many babies are introduced to in the U.S. is rice baby cereal because it is considered the least allergenic grain, and these same mothers are often told that baby is more likely to sleep through the night and hold down food when solid foods are introduced.
Pediatricians will also recommend including small amounts of rice cereal—even in the bottles of very young babies—but parents might want to question that recommendation, as per Guggie Daly. Her experience with Food Protein Induced Entercolitis Syndrome was nearly fatal for her son, and there is a growing community of moms with similar gastrointestinal disorder issues.
Recommendations now note that cereal isn’t even nutritionally necessary, and the introduction of grains before the infant’s molars are in can trigger developmental problems because they cannot digest them properly due to a lack of pediatric amylase. Further, adding cereal to that bottle does not make them sleep better and is a choking hazard.
9 Why Do We Need So Many Baby Checkups?
Doctors often inform the new mom gravely that if she doesn't bring baby in for well-baby checkups according to the schedule that there could be problems. Mom feels like if she doesn't comply that someone will come after her—but they are not actually mandatory like many moms think.
While well-baby checkups can help mom track growth and catch unknown issues like a hernia, some mothers feel like the risk of exposure to germs in the doctor's office isn't necessary if the baby is healthy and thriving, as per SheKnows.
Many moms wish they had had more autonomy in determining baby's checkup schedule but felt compelled to follow the schedule.
8 Are Raw Milk Regulations Right For My Baby?
Pasteurization of dairy was heralded as a lifesaving safety measure to make milk safer for human consumption, but proponents of raw milk argue that it is human mismanagement of dairy cows that increases the dangerous bacteria in milk that can sicken us.
Brandy explained her regret that she hadn't learned about raw milk sooner, as per The Humbled Homemaker. She says that the quality of the milk is all about the source—parents have been convinced that the only safe milk is pasteurized, but she argues that the process actually destroys much of the nutrients.
She says parents can make the best decisions when fully informed. Many moms are even opting for goat and camel milk, which research shows have more nutritional properties and are easier to digest.
7 What Am I Even Buying This For?
Mom groups, baby stores, and store displays send an overwhelming message to pregnant moms that baby's best life can only be lived with every modern baby convenience, but the regret sets in when mamas find they don't use half of it and probably wasted quite a bit of money besides.
One mom described her struggle with her impulse to go out and buy all the things and her desire to question whether she really needed any of it, according to Raising Ziggy. In hindsight, she'd stop herself before going out to buy things that would end up on a shelf, unused and quickly outgrown.
6 What Risks Are There With Tubal Ligation?
Many moms who get C-sections remember getting asked whether they'd like to get their tubes tied while they're there, and even women who give birth vaginally report being asked if they'd be interested in the procedure while in the hospital.
While some women are happy with tubal ligation, many regret it later.
One woman said she initially was relieved, but later regretted the finality of it, as per Wannabe Balanced. Another mom got her tubes tied when she thought she had established her family, only to find that when the relationship failed, she regretted making the decision based on her former partner's wishes, according to Vocativ.
Others go on to develop serious complications that—as it turns out—aren’t all that rare. Problems like Post-Tubal Ligation Syndrome can turn a family upside-down, rendering many women incapable of working or sustaining their interpersonal relationships. Sudden irritability and volatile mood swings, as well as chronic pain, consume their lives.
5 Is Sleep Training Necessary?
Many moms swear by it and many moms are horrified by it.
Sleep training and methods like CIO (Cry It Out) are touted by baby books and professionals as the best way to teach baby how to sleep at night, like 'normal,' and exhausted parents who can feel their sleep-deprived brains dribbling out of their ears try it in desperation.
One mom regretted following the experts' advice and trying this with her son; she feels that his continued difficulty with sleeping on his own stems from his sleep training experience, as per Red & Honey. She wishes someone had told her then that she shouldn't feel pressured to do it.
4 Are Vitamin Supplements Right For My Baby?
Many women accept the word of doctors who tell them that their healthy baby will only stay healthy if he's given vitamin supplements, but other moms argue that babies have been born healthy for millennia without vitamin drops.
Additionally, one mom shared she was uncomfortable with the fact that the other ingredients in the drops weren't what she wanted in her baby's body, as per Babble.
Another mom reported that her baby seemed cranky after each dose of vitamin D drops. They felt that they could give their babies small amounts of sun exposure so that vitamin D was made naturally, without later regretting feeding artificial drops.
3 Will This Epidural Affect My Birth Plan?
An epidural is a procedure that many women have during labor to ease the intense pain, but many women are not told that the side effects can extend to the baby also. Moms have even reported that they stopped sharing their birth plans with family and friends who couldn't seem to understand why they did not want an epidural during labor, according to What To Expect.
Other moms, both those who had epidurals and those who didn't, asserted that ultimately the mother should have the last and final say about what she wants to do and that her biggest regret will be giving in to what others think is best.
2 Did I Really Need To Snip My Son?
Moms who give birth to baby boys are often asked about circumcision practically before the placenta is pushed out, and it is common for doctors to recommend it as a painless procedure with health benefits to make him 'look normal.' Other moms decide to circumcise because of religious beliefs and traditions.
A long-standing tradition, routine infant circumcision actually has no medical benefits like once was previously thought. One mom agreed to a circumcision on her son because her partner insisted and was full of regret afterwards when she read more about the procedure, according to What To Expect.
A circumcision can't ever be undone—though many men are pursuing foreskin restoration—and moms who regret going ahead with this procedure without knowing what it means often carry guilt for a long time.
1 Is An Episiotomy Really Necessary?
Doctors will often routinely perform an episiotomy during labor, sometimes without discussing it with mom beforehand. This surgical cut is supposed to ease the passage of the head and to prevent tearing during birth. Many women don't realize that an episiotomy can take longer to heal, according to Mama Natural.
Some moms in the comment section regretted their episiotomy due to long, difficult infections and poor stitching. The moms who didn't regret their episiotomy said it was primarily because they only consented to it when they had made every effort to deliver safely without it.
Consent and knowledge were considered key to making the decision without regret.
References: What To Expect, Romper, Nurtured Child, Mom.me, We Have Kids, The Bump, An Upstream Life, All The Nourishing Things, Circle Of Moms, Improving Birth, Guggie Daly, SheKnows, The Humbled Homemaker, Raising Ziggy, Wannabe Balanced, Vocativ, Red & Honey, Babble, What To Expect, Mama Natural