I’ve recently been reading an amaaaaaazing book that everyone should get their hands on. It’s called The Politics of Breastfeeding: When Breasts Are Bad For Business.
I came across a chapter called ‘why do we dislike babies?’ The title made me giggle a bit. But as I was reading, everything was so true and put our western parenting approaches into perspective.
One of the things it touched on was how in our society, there is so much pressure to get back to normal. Health care professionals, friends and family will pressure you to get back to ‘normality’. This is so detrimental to the bond between you and baby. In some countries, for 40 days after the birth of a baby, the mother is treated like a Goddess. She is to rest with her baby, her immediate family come round and cook and clean for those 40 days whilst she recovers and bonds with the baby. As you can imagine, the rates of PND are much lower and the babies and mothers are generally a lot happier as the babies needs are tended to before they even have a chance to cry about them. However, in more Western countries it’s almost a competition on who got back to ‘normality’ and ‘routine’ the quickest.
‘I did the school run the day after’
‘I went food shopping the same afternoon’
‘I went skydiving 3 hours after giving birth….’
This rush to getting back into routine and normality usually means only having baby close to your body occasionally, definitely no co sleeping and usually putting baby into their own bedroom sooner than the recommended guidelines which can heighten the risk of SIDS, feeding to a routine and therefore the babies emotional and physical needs being ignored.
Since the beginning of time, responding to our babies cries with our breast or comfort has been the norm, our motherly instinct, what we are meant to do. And in most countries and for most mammals this is still the case. So why, in our western world is this not the norm any more? This isn’t a matter of infant feeding, this is a matter of following our instincts and responding to our children no matter if you’re breastfeeding or bottle feeding.
In this book, Gabrielle Palmer talks about how it’s far more acceptable to show lots of attention to a new car rather than your own baby out of fear that you may spoil your baby! Sounds ridiculous, but it’s so true. Another example of this; I came across a meme against co sleeping on Facebook, the person who posted this co sleeps with her dog every night. I’m not even kidding. Like, how is it acceptable to co sleep with our pets but not our babies? The same person also posted this meme:
I found this so ironic, it was quite funny really. Most adults and babies and children at some point want to be comforted and cuddled. Most of us adults go to sleep every night with our partners right next to us, we feel safe and comforted and loved. But we expect our tiny little babies who have only ever known warmth, comfort and love from our wombs, to sleep alone in a cot. And when they don’t do this, they are a problem and people will go out of their way to stop this problem. This problem can be easily fixed by co sleeping or comforting them back to sleep in one way or another, yet people still resort to cold and love-less methods.
In this book, Gabrielle describes an account from some travellers in Nepal. They spoke about how the mother was cooking tea for everyone however stopped to breastfeed her baby. Her husband took over and served the dinner. After dinner, the husband and wife proceeded to massage their baby together. The travellers spoke about how it was evident that the baby and the parents really enjoyed this. The baby then fell into a peaceful sleep and would have been fed throughout the night.
She then compares this to a typical British scene of placing the baby in their cot whilst they’re still awake, in a bedroom filled with lovely furniture the baby doesn’t even care about. They then hear the baby cry through the monitor and they wait for a while to see if the baby eventually stops crying by themselves. When the baby doesn’t stop crying the mum and dad bicker over who’s turn it is to settle the baby. Instead of going up to settle the baby lovingly, it goes a bit like *sigh* you interrupted my me time now go back to sleep.
My point is, why do we dislike our babies when they are only babies for such a short amount of time? Why are we so scared of comforting and loving them? What are we scared of?
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