What an extraordinary term and label. I encourage you to think about it for just a moment..
So a baby has been conceived with love and a unique and beautiful connection begins with his Mum particularly, as she is carrying him, and also his Dad This baby responds to all his Mum’s emotions and feelings during pregnancy, he enjoys her touch, from the outside, falls in love with her and Dad’s voice, especially when it involves reading in a rhythmical tone, maybe a poem, or singing, and playing music.
THE CONNECTION, the absolute physical, emotional and spiritual connection continues for at least 40 weeks with the laying down of important imprinting which will shape his future.
How he enters the world is very important, as he transitions from his calm, secure and supported world, in utero, to the outside environment. This is why a waterbirth for a baby is a very gentle entry, from one water medium to another, easing him into this strange new world. I encourage women to be the only one who touches baby, scoop him from the water into your arms, so that his gentle birth is not interrupted by a stranger.
It takes a newborn a very long time to integrate into our world. It is a huge assault on all his senses different smells, sounds, lights, touch, – and baby needs to be given time, peace and quiet, to adapt, slowly and gently. He needs to feel the closeness of his parents, particularly his mother, to feel safe and secure to help him adapt.
So how is it that in our western society, the expectation, so commonly prescribed, that a baby will immediately have the capacity to understand what is expected of him and to neatly fit into his parent’s routine.
The brain and nervous system is extremely immature at birth. Human babies are the most immature of primates, with only 25% of their brain volume.
Professor James J. McKenna is recognized as the world’s leading authority on mother-infant co-sleeping, in relationship to breastfeeding and SIDS. He states:
“Irrepressible (ancient) neurologically-based infant responses to maternal smells, movements and touch altogether reduce infant crying while positively regulating infant breathing, body temperature, absorption of calories, stress hormone levels, immune status, and oxygenation. In short, co-sleeping (whether on the same surface or not) facilitates positive clinical changes including more infant sleep and seems to make, well, babies happy. In other words, unless practiced dangerously, sleeping next to mother is good for infants.
This represents a uniquely human characteristic that could only develop biologically (indeed, is only possible) alongside mother’s continuous contact and proximityas mothers body proves still to be the only environment to which the infant is truly adapted, for which even modern western technology has yet to produce a substitute.” Given a choice, it seems human babies strongly prefer their mother’s body to solitary contact with inert cotton-lined mattresses. In turn, mothers seem to notice and succumb to their infant’s preferences”.
Having a baby is a lifestyle change! That’s so easy to say, and not many prenatal classes delve into what this actually means, so it is understandable that many parents want to continue their ‘normal’ routine and expect a baby to ‘fit in’. But what a baby needs is very different. They need to feel secure and safe and the best way to grow a developmentally secure and independent adult, is to start in utero and continue the wonderful, close connection on the outside.
At our Inside Birth courses you will learn about connecting with your baby in utero, the importance of how he is born, and how to embrace the changes from Inside to Outside. You will know why babies cry it is their only way of communicating and how to read those cues.
Where your baby sleeps is important. I highly recommend Professor McKenna’s book “Sleeping with your baby” which will give the new parent wonderful insight into understanding the capacity of your baby’s brain and thinking.
Is it not crazy to believe that a baby who has grown in utero for 40 weeks, with such exquisite connection with his Mum, should then be suddenly separated, and placed in something called a cot? Of course they will cry for they have lost their Mum. How frightening this must be for a baby.
The proponents of ‘controlled crying’ have no knowledge or understanding of these facts. Of course, nobody wants to be sleep deprived, BUT you must expect some sleep disturbances. The low calorie composition of breastmilk, beautifully adjusted for the baby’s underdeveloped gut, requires frequent feeding, especially at night.
- Get to know your baby on the Inside (suggest our Inside Birth course)
- Hire a doula, who can support you in having a beautiful birthing experience.
- Learn about why newborn’s cry and read McKenna’s book
- Understand that co-sleeping has many forms, e.g. it does not have to be in bed, but can be close to your bed.
- Sit down with your partner before the birth and sort out who will be doing what around the house once baby has arrived. E.g. cooking, cleaning, walking the dog, washing, ironing, shopping etc.
- Plan to ideally have 30 days of mainly staying at home, all three of you, so that baby can slowly absorb his new environment, and you can fall in love on the Outside. If 30 days is not manageable, then aim for as many days as possible. You will find that baby will then integrate more easily, when you do take him out. You are building a secure base for him.
Most importantly ENJOY this time. You are a parent for the rest of your life, no matter how old your child is. It is one of the most exciting and challenging roles, which will change you as a person, for the better!
My guarantee! If you focus on all of the above, you will not have a crying baby, that feels out of control, and you will not suffer from sleep deprivation.