Building Blocks of Self-Efficacy

Self-efficacy, or self-belief, isn’t something that we hear about often as a parenting topic but we need to start talking about it. So, what is self-efficacy?

“It is the belief we have in our abilities, specifically our ability to meet the challenges ahead of us and complete a task successfully.” (Akhtar, 2008)

As parents (heck, as human beings!), we will make mistakes. What’s important for us to grasp is the knowledge that we will learn from these mistakes and do better next time.

Note: This blog post isn’t about a certain style of parenting. It’s about the importance of self-belief and knowing that your choices are the best for your family. I could have used any topic as an example: sleep, sun protection, etc. I am using my breastfeeding story because this was my experience towards uncovering my self-efficacy.

My self-belief began alongside my breastfeeding journey. I discovered the power of my body while I birthed and breastfed my children. I had grown these children throughout my pregnancies. And I provided them with all of the food and nutrition they needed after they were born. After successfully nursing my children into toddlerhood, I realized that I had been right all those months ago. The decision that we made as parents was the right one for our family!

My parenting journey is not perfect; far from it actually. But the lessons that I learned from exclusively breastfeeding my children gave me the power to trust my instincts. They have also taught me how to be humble when it comes to bad decisions. To be honest, I struggle with eating my piece of humble pie. That might be due to my Italian roots…

But how can you obtain self-efficacy – this belief in yourself? How is it developed?

SUPPORT:
I had the full support from my family with my choice to breastfeed. Support doesn’t necessarily mean that they followed the same path that you are traveling. It means that they respect your decisions and are interested in hearing your story. Support can come from anyone who is part of your every day life: immediate family, extended family, friends, neighbours or members of your church.

COMMUNITY:
Being with like-minded parents gives you the opportunity to witness their stories, to share the struggles and celebrate the joys. Look at where your interests and values are. For attachment parenting, many communities have branches of La Leche League and babywearing groups.

A word of advice about the social media community. Use it wisely. There are a lot of pros and cons to joining the “mommy Facebook” groups, but a definite plus is the get-togethers. They are usually informal and hosted at parks, private residences, indoor playgrounds or family-friendly cafรฉs.

LOVE:
If you have a partner, they are a part of the family and an integral part of the decision making. Talk to them, share good information (my next point) and discuss it together. Try to discuss the topic calmly. If emotions run too high, take a break and revisit the discussion another day. You are not going to agree on everything and that is healthy and normal. Remember that relationships are give and take. Oftentimes, compromise is the answer.

SCIENCE:
The best decision is an informed decision. Do your research! When you find “advice” online, dig a bit deeper. Where did they get their information? Are there studies to back the information up? Does the author seem biased? Just because something is online doesn’t make it a fact. Please don’t base your findings on a blog (and yes, I like the irony here too), speak with the professionals and ask them where they get their information.

How are you building your self-efficacy? Share your stories in the comments!

“If I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.” Mahatma Gandhi

Resources: https://positivepsychology.com/self-efficacy

Help! I Need Some Breastfeeding Advice!

Picture it. It’s 2am, the baby is crying, you’re a few weeks (or months) postpartum and you’re sleep deprived. You’ve tried to latch your baby on and nothing seems to be working. You search online for answers. All of a sudden, you are bombarded with pages and pages of information. And opinions. And that’s not even taking into consideration the “related searches” results. Which website do you visit first? The first one? Some of the forums? You decide on a website and start reading. You can relate to some of what’s written and you continue reading. All of a sudden you think “the first thing they mentioned seems like me, and the third, and the fourth, and the fifth… ” Before you know it, you’re worrying about tongue ties, nipple shields, low milk supply and oversupply!

Don’t get me wrong. There are some very good online resources, you just have to know where to find them. I have listed some of my favourite websites and books below. I will also tell you about some reputable professionals in your community.

So where should you turn to for help?

Dr. Jack Newman is a Canadian pediatrician and has been involved in breastfeeding research for other 30 years. His website has great videos and written resources.

The Motherisk Program is run by the Hospital for Sick Children. They are a great resource on the interactions of medications, medical therapies and substance abuse for breastfeeding and pregnant mothers. Telephone support is also available.

Best Start has many resource sheets on breastfeeding and your baby’s development.

La Leche League is a volunteer-run organization that began in 1956. Their website includes information sheets and a FAQ section. You can also find your local group online. More on that later!

Kelly Mom is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and her website has fantastic research-based articles for breastfeeding and parenting.

The Milk Meg is an IBCLC from Australia. Her often humorous blogs cover breastfeeding, weaning and attachment parenting.

If you’re looking to add to your book collection, here are some of my favourites:

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by La Leche League International
Sweet Sleep by La Leche League International
The Breastfeeding Book by Martha and William Sears

No matter where you are in the world, there are numerous ways to get face-to-face help. While books and online resources can be very helpful, sometimes it’s not enough. There are times where you need a professional seeing how your baby breastfeeds, how you are holding the baby, etc.

Postpartum doulas: While they are not health-care providers, many doulas are knowledgeable about breastfeeding and can guide you through some of the challenges.

Lactation professionals usually fall into three categories: lactation counselor, lactation consultant (LC or CLC) and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). Although similar, the differences lie in their training and scope of practices. Stay tuned for next month’s blog post for more information on this profession!

As I mentioned previously, La Leche League is a support group for breastfeeding mothers that is run by volunteers. Most groups will meet once or twice a month and the group leaders are also available by phone, email or social media. It can be very helpful to meet like-minded mothers in a breastfeeding friendly environment.

Finding reliable, research-based information in 2019 can be a chore. Stick with the resources that I have mentioned and if you still have questions, I am only a phone call or email away! Take a deep breath mama โ€“ you are doing great! Just be careful what you Googleโ€ฆ