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10 Things "Good" Mothers Do

By Katie |

It seemed as though the moment I got pregnant, I started getting advice from everyone I knew. Sometimes it was legitimate, kind and useful, other times, not so much. And occasionally it hasn’t been advice as much as it has been a family member or friend telling me what I’m going to do with my child. I never really know how to reply to that because, uh, what if that’s not what I planned to do?

My grandmother asked me a few weeks ago if I would be breastfeeding the baby. I told her that yes, that was our plan and she replied, “well of course you will, you’re going to be a good mother.”

And in that moment it hit me why I was struggling to feel blessed with all the advice I was being given. It’s because it wasn’t all advice. Every time my mother in law tells me something it’s not a suggestion, it’s an “of course you’ll do” x, y or z. When friends of ours who subscribe to a particular parenting mindset suggest things, they do it with the caveat that if we consider any other method, our child will be a monster.

I realized that we’re not receiving advice as much as we’re receiving subtle parenting threats that we’re going to ruin our child unless we do things one certain way.

Now, at nearly 32 weeks pregnant, I think I’ve narrowed down the top 10 things that “good” mothers do, according to several of the parenting “experts” in my life. I also refer to this list as all the reasons why I am clearly not actually going to be a good mother.

(Before I go on, please know that I think all 10 of these things are wonderful, even if I decide not to do them.)

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10 Things I've Been Told I Need to do as a New Parent


I have every intention of breastfeeding my son if my breasts will allow it. But I am also very aware of how difficult that can be and am not going to beat myself up if we can't do it for as long as I hope. In short, I'm planning on it, but I'm not married to the idea to the point that I'll risk my health or sanity for it. And though it's news to my grandmother, I hear that formula isn't the anti-christ and that some of the children who consume it are even happy and healthy. The horror.
Photo from Wikimedia Commons

So, while I sit here and eat my McDonald’s and Twix, and stock up on contaminated jarred baby food and plan ways to make sure my child sleeps as far away from me as possible and never bonds with us, why don’t you share some of the “good mother advice” you were given while pregnant?

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About Katie



Katie is a former teacher, part-time PT, wife, and first-time mother to the baby with the best ears on the Internet. You can find more of her grammatically questionable writing at her blog, Overflowing Brain. Read bio and latest posts → Read Katie's latest posts →

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0 thoughts on “10 Things "Good" Mothers Do

  1. Cindy says:

    I didn’t wear a coat on a cold day when pregnant, and I was told I am setting a bad example for my child!!

  2. SJP says:

    This is hilarious. I’m a very good mother to my four children ages 7, 5, 3, and 1. I’m told by MANY people that I’m a great mom, a wonderful mom, a dedicated mom, a patient mom, and that my kids are smart, healthy, kind, generous, thoughtful, and well behaved. Am I perfect? No. Are they perfect? No. But I think we’re doing pretty good. However, I: did not breastfeed, did not cosleep, used jarred babyfood, gained 40lb each time (and now weigh 15lb less than I did when I got pregnant the first time), I went back to work full time after each 18 week maternity leave (my husband is a SAHD), I had an epidural with all four (and chose elective inductions at 39.5 weeks with the last 3!), Tried a sling once with my first, was terrified that he was going to get smothered and it’s been on the high shelf of my closet collecting dust ever since, did not take professional photos pregnant nor with my newborns, and I did my share of complaining about my pregnancy sympotms. OH and how could I forget — Non pregnant I never eat fast food. My kids don’t eat it either. However during all four pregnancies I had an insane craving for Wendy’s spicy chicken sandwhich and fries in both the 1st and 3rd trimesters. Once around 37 weeks I drove through there for lunch three days in a row and it was the same worker who recognized me! All this “good mother” advice drives me nuts! Do what you want and what makes you comfortable.

  3. lonek8 says:

    I basically could have written that last comment. Didn’t breastfeed (couldn’t), didn’t co-sleep, didn’t carry the baby on my body much because I have a bad back and damn those little babies get heavy FAST, ate all kinds of junk food, fed them jarred baby food, didn’t have professional photos taken (which I find creepy to be honest), and I got epidurals of various effectiveness on all three births. I did keep my weight gain within recommended limits, but that was more luck than anything else because I regularly ate things like strawberries smeared in frosting, and I do stay home with my kids because that’s what I always wanted to do, and on my best day I wouldn’t earn enough to pay for daycare for three kids. I get complimented all the time on what a great mother I am, and how well behaved and wonderful my kids are, and I’ll let you in on a secret; my kids ARE great, and I honestly don’t think it has anything to do with me. They are just great and I have managed not to screw them up yet.

    Here is literally the ONLY advice any mother needs to be a good mom: Love your child, follow your own instincts, and don’t drop the baby.

  4. MB says:

    I love this post! Thank you!
    I think something that all of this “advice” did to me my first time was make me into a crazy, neurotic mess which obviously did not make me a good mother! The best advice I got was when my baby was seven weeks old. “Happy Mommy, Happy Baby.” It changed my whole attitude on a lot of these things – I put down my pump and picked up some formula, and we all got along a lot better after that.
    I think it’s all about striking a balance and knowing what’s important to you, not to those around you (including the people at the baby boutiques or on the perfect mommy websites.)

  5. Ladera Mom says:

    I totally agree MB, YOU have to be happy in order to be able to make them happy. Otherwise, you’ll end up resentful and bitter!! Good luck. Every baby is different, so no one else’s advice may work for you (sorry, but it’s true!). I didn’t do any of those things, I tried breastfeeding- but I failed, twice. Hopefully, my boys will forgive me someday :)

  6. Megan says:

    Great article! It brought back some interesting memories of being pregnant. Something to think about, though: While the drugs used during birth can negatively affect the child (briefly), using no drugs and experiencing extreme pain/stress can also affect the baby in a negative way. Yes, women have been having babies since the beginning of time with no pain killers (and kudos to them, because I had an epidural – that failed – then shots of local anesthetic for my episiotomy plus laughing gas for an all around good time!), but they’re not always terrible. And it seems from the article that you have negative feelings about natural childbirth. As a former labor and delivery nurse, I can tell you that it takes major strength and gumption to get through it without drugs. I guess what I’m saying is, be flexible. Allow yourself options. If you feel like you need some drugs (even if it’s only a handful of Advil), take it! You will not be letting anyone down, and you will NOT be a bad mommy for it. It’s your body, no one else is experiencing what you are experiencing in that moment. If it will make your birth experience more relaxing, more enjoyable, more memorable, allow yourself some medicine. After all, the best way to be a good mommy is to take care of yourself, so you’re in your best shape to take care of your little one. Good luck!

  7. Lisa says:

    You are going to be a great Mommy. You sound like you are already on your way to going with what ever happens instead of trying to pre plan everything.
    A long time friend gave me the best advice when I was pregnant. She said if you have to have a c-section don’t worry as long as you have a healthy baby, and if you aren’t able to breast feed there are lots of ways to fill your baby’s belly!
    I went in with a open mind. I went with the pain as long as I could, ended up an emergency c-section – but a healthy baby! God luck you are so far ahead of the game!

  8. Lolli says:

    I actually fit all of these except the not complaining while pregnant part. Being healthy is wonderful & I love being a mommy!

  9. LuLu says:

    hmm, in this case, I must be a HORRIBLE mother lol! I tried carrying my daughter a few times and it was such a hassle to get into that little harness and get her in and out of it. Plus she gets heavy after a while. I fed both my children jarred baby food. I tried to breastfed both children but I apparently don’t produce enough milk to do so. I wasn’t careful with my weight with my firstborn (but I was on top of that with my second), I ate fast food A LOT, esp seeing how I worked at a fast food place during both pregnancies. lol I know I’m a good mother to my children, despite all the advice that I’ve been given and not taken. To each their own I say. :)

    I did enjoy reading this. Every single one of these pieces of advice was given to me during both my pregnancies.

  10. Stefanie says:

    The only thing on this list I did was have my first sleep in our room til she was old enough to sleep through the night. Didn’t happen with our second child, since he was in the NICU for almost three months.

  11. Anne says:

    I loved this article too, I have three children and did what I felt was right. I have three amazing, smart and extremely grown up children that are 11, 8 and 6. I don’t coddle my children like so many parents do but I smother them with love and affection. My children are like little adults so much so that they only really get along with older children and adults. I get complemented every where I go about how well behaved they are and how well mannered they are and they ask me my secret and I say, “I threaten their existence”. LOL. There is no right or wrong way to parent a child as long as you do not abuse them in anyway.

  12. Maria Cepeda says:

    As long as you love your baby with all of your heart and try to do what’s best for it, you will do great! Don’t worry. It should come naturally. :)

  13. Jess says:

    Love this! This is my third, and I struggled with breastfeeding both of the first 2, and have decided against it. Suddenly, anyone who hears this thinks I am a horrible mommy who hates her baby, and he is doomed to a lifetime of health issues.
    So far the most interesting “advice” I have gotten, though, is concerning the name. “Don’t you know that’s the name of a cartoon character? People will think you named him after the cartoon. Name him this, it was my grandfather’s name.” I tried to respond politely that my husband and I liked the name we chose, and it was settled on after much debate, but I fear I may have come off as a bit annoyed!

  14. Kim says:

    I love all the comments and this article. I am a Newborn Care Specialist, and having working with Moms, Dads, and babies for over 14 years. I would love everyone of my families, to read all of this. It would make them feel so much better.
    I come from a family of 9 kids! My Mother is amazing! I know she did what she had to do, just to get by. She had 3 in diapers at the same time. All single births. We are all grown, and healthy as can be.
    Keep up the great advice…. Go Girls!!

  15. Liz says:

    I must say, not only do I LOVE this post, but I love you FOR this post lol. Both of my pregnancies were very much this way and I am sooo excited someone is finally speaking how I feel

  16. Surf Momma says:

    I was continually told to “enjoy my pregnancy” and “enjoy this time with my Husband.” Enjoy it or you’ll regret it. Because I was obviously quite miserable – the entire time. Enjoy, wrong. My Husband was sent to work out of the country for over three months of my pregnancy, there was no time for “us”. Not to mention I was in the hospital 11 times before they let me deliver, bed rest (not the blast some think), multiple weekly ultrasounds, NICU tours, specialist – oh yeah – total party. What I like to tell those people now, it was totally worth the misery to enjoy the happy ending we got, a healthy baby boy. What I do enjoy is now hearing him say I love you and watching my Husband be a Dad. I think it’s more than okay to not like being pregnant and still count your blessings on the flip side.

    You’ll be a wonderful mom, don’t let the “experts” annoy you too much!

  17. Neda says:

    I breast fed my child, we the dentest moved half of her teeth ’cause no body adviced me about the night breasfeeding, my boobs are very saggie(LOL).
    she is very healthy child, didn’t have antipiotics untill she turned 5 when she had a serious fever and cold.
    I used to carry my baby everywhere mostly couldn’t affored the stroller. sleeps with me in bed…
    I ate frize from Jack in the box for the first three months, thats all what stays in my tommy! switched to viggie rolls, and then i ate everything u could think of. never gain wight. lost pregnancy wight within the first week ( I’ve told that was because of breast feeding) and ate like a pig ( for real).
    Do what you comfortable with, the most after having the baby, get as much sleep as u can, don’t freak out for the child ( check on Her/ him every second while they a sleep), get whatever help u can, so that u can have ur me time, relax, nice baths, long walks, relax and relax…
    try to get ur husband to help… he would feel he is a real parent and knows how hard u work… enjoy it…its beautiful…love

  18. Heather says:

    I think the worst I’ve heard is that of course I’ll stop breastfeeding now that she has teeth – after the first time she bites me. Ha! Yeah, my daughter is ready to be weaned at 8 months old. Um, no. Not at all.

  19. Nicole says:

    This makes me feel so much better ” Im a bad mom” for not holding my soon to be 2 year old daughter every minn of the day. she throws a fit if i dont pick her up and she refuse to walk even though she can. So I dont allow this attitude I dont pick her up and encourage her to walk around and stay off my hip and exlore… But yet i am told that is mean of me she should be carried all day and it shouldnt matter… Well it matters to me cuz she needs to be walking around and I need the break as well.. not wanting to carrying my girl around all day even though i love her and adore her with all my heart dsnt make me a bad mom..

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