It’s quite common to hear babies cry in movies and television with adults mostly ignoring the baby’s unhappiness. I shake my head. Why are they ignoring baby’s signals? Ignorance? Cruelty? Numbness?
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What is a babymoon?
Babymoon is a term first used by social anthropologist, and mother/baby advocate, Sheila Kitzinger, in her 1994 book, The Year After Childbirth: Surviving and Enjoying the First Year of Motherhood. It refers to the postpartum bonding period between parents and their new baby, and is especially crucial for a mother and her new little one.
It is at this time, and especially during the first 40 days following birth, that a mom and her baby do best cocooning at home together in their own 'nest' as they establish breastfeeding, sleep and nap together, and fall deeply in love.
During her babymoon, mom learns to read her baby’s cues (preventing unnecessary tears and fears for baby - and for mom), and it is the time that secure attachment begins to develop between a baby and parents because of their tuned-in responsiveness. Infants learn that the world can be trusted, that they are loved, not ignored.
Oxytocin flows freely for a supported mother who is cared for herself, and this feel-good love hormone floods her baby as well when kept close within a newborn’s natural habitat: mom’s chest.
During the vital babymoon, milk supply is built and regulated, and baby’s respiration, cardiovascular functioning, hormones, and temperature are stabilized by being close to mom. The babymoon is a sacred period, and one that each mother and her baby deserve to fully savor and be supported through. This is one time that we do not wish to disrupt the primal process of mothering.
Natural Family Today: The Importance of a Babymoon (article)
BlissTree Babymoon (article)
Her Family: Importance of a Babymoon (article)
Bella: The Importance of a Babymoon (article)
Why African Babies Don't Cry (article)
Why Love Matters (book)
The Continuum Concept (book)
Baby Matters (book)
The Biology of Love (book)
Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering (book)
|Newborn breastfeeding pattern|
• The Case for Cue Feeding: http://www.DrMomma.org/2010/01/case-for-cue-feeding.html
• Why African Babies Don't Cry: http://www.DrMomma.org/2010/09/why-african-babies-dont-cry.html
• Breastfeeding community: FB.com/groups/Breastfed
|Newborn stomach size|
|Breastfeeding on cue awareness raising cards at Etsy|
Read more from Niala at In Culture Parent
Why African Babies Don't Cry
I was born and grew up in Kenya and Cote d’Ivoire. From the age of fifteen I lived in the UK. However, I always knew that I wanted to raise my children (whenever I had them) at home in Kenya. And yes, I assumed I was going to have them. I am a modern African woman, with two university degrees, and a fourth generation working woman – but when it comes to children, I am typically African. The assumption remains that you are not complete without them; children are a blessing which would be crazy to avoid. Actually the question does not even arise.
I started my pregnancy in the UK. The urge to deliver at home was so strong that I sold my practice, setup a new business and moved house and country within five months of finding out I was pregnant. I did what most expectant mothers in the UK do – I read voraciously: Our Babies, Ourselves, Unconditional Parenting, anything by Sears – the list goes on. (My grandmother later commented that babies don’t read books and really all I needed to do was “read” my baby). Everything I read said that African babies cried less than European babies. I was intrigued as to why.
When I went home, I observed. I looked out for mothers and babies and they were everywhere, though very young African ones, under six weeks, were mainly at home. The first thing I noticed is that despite their ubiquitousness, it is actually quite difficult to actually “see” a Kenyan baby. They are usually incredibly well wrapped up before being carried or strapped onto their mother (sometimes father). Even older babies strapped onto a back are further protected from the elements by a large blanket. You would be lucky to catch sight of a limb, never mind an eye or nose. The wrapping is a womb-like replication. The babies are literally cocooned from the stresses of the outside world into which they are entering.
My second observation was a cultural one. In the UK, it was understood that babies cry. In Kenya, it was quite the opposite. The understanding is that babies don’t cry. If they do – something is horribly wrong and something must be done to rectify it immediately. My English sister-in-law summarized it well. “People here,” she said, “really don’t like babies crying, do they?”
It all made much more sense when I finally delivered and my grandmother came from the village to visit. As it happened, my baby did cry a fair amount. Exasperated and tired, I forgot everything I had ever read and sometimes joined in the crying too. Yet for my grandmother it was simple, “Nyonyo (breastfeed her)!” It was her answer to every single peep.
I suddenly learned the not-so-difficult secret of the joyful silence of African babies. It was a simple needs-met symbiosis that required a total suspension of ideas of what should be happening and an embracing of what was actually going on in that moment. The bottom line was that my baby fed a lot – far more than I had ever read about and at least five times as much as some of the stricter feeding schedules I had seen.
At about four months, when a lot of urban mothers start to introduce solids as previous guidelines had recommended, my daughter returned to newborn-style hourly breastfeeding, which was a total shock. Over the past four months, the time between feeds had slowly started to increase. I had even started to treat the odd patient without my breasts leaking or my daughter’s nanny interrupting the session to let me know my daughter needed a feed.
Most of the mothers in my mother and baby group had duly started to introduce baby rice (to stretch the feeds) and all the professionals involved in our children’s lives – pediatricians, even doulas, said that this was ok. Mothers needed rest too, we had done amazingly to get to four months exclusively breastfeeding, and they assured us our babies would be fine. Something didn’t ring true for me and even when I tried, half-heartedly, to mix some pawpaw (the traditional weaning food in Kenya) with expressed milk and offer it to my daughter, she was having none of it.
So I called my grandmother. She laughed and asked if I had been reading books again. She carefully explained how breastfeeding was anything but linear. “She’ll tell you when she’s ready for food – and her body will too.”
“What will I do until then?” I was eager to know.
“You do what you did before, regular nyonyo.” So my life slowed down to what felt like a standstill again. While many of my contemporaries marveled at how their children were sleeping longer now that they had introduced baby rice and were even venturing to other foods, I was waking hourly or every two hours with my daughter and telling patients that the return to work wasn’t panning out quite as I had planned.
I soon found that quite unwittingly, I was turning into an informal support service for other urban mothers. My phone number was doing the rounds and many times while I was feeding my baby I would hear myself uttering the words, “Yes, just keep feeding him/ her. Yes, even if you have just fed them. Yes, you might not even manage to get out of your pajamas today. Yes, you still need to eat and drink like a horse. No, now might not be the time to consider going back to work if you can afford not to.” And finally, I assured mothers, “It will get easier.” I had to just trust this last one as it hadn’t gotten easier for me, yet.
A week or so before my daughter turned five months, we traveled to the UK for a wedding and for her to meet family and friends. Because I had very few other demands, I easily kept up her feeding schedule. Despite the disconcerted looks of many strangers as I fed my daughter in many varied public places (most designated breastfeeding rooms were in restrooms which I just could not bring myself to use), we carried on.
At the wedding, the people whose table we sat at noted, “She is such an easy baby – though she does feed a lot.” I kept my silence. Another lady commented, “Though I did read somewhere that African babies don’t cry much.” I could not help but laugh.
My Grandmother’s gentle wisdom:
1. Offer the breast every single moment that your baby is upset – even if you have just fed her.
2. Co-sleep. Many times you can feed your baby before they are fully awake, which will allow them to go back to sleep easier and get you more rest.
3. Always take a flask of warm water to bed with you at night to keep you hydrated and the milk flowing.
4. Make feeding your priority (especially during growth spurts) and get everyone else around you to do as much as they can for you. There is very little that cannot wait.
Read your baby, not the books. Breastfeeding is not linear – it goes up and down and also in circles. You are the expert on your baby’s needs.
Dr. J. Claire K. Niala is a mother, writer and osteopath who enjoys exploring the differences that thankfully still exist between various cultures around the world. She was born in Kenya and grew up in Kenya, Cote d'Ivoire and the UK. She has worked and lived on three continents and has visited at least one new country every year since she was 12 years old. Her favorite travel companions are her mother and daughter whose stories and interest in others bring her to engage with the world in ways she would have never imagined. Read more from Niala at In Culture Parent.
Addiction is a complex and genuine problem, but it's also one that many people face in their lives. Addiction can be hard to understand, which makes it even more difficult for those who are trying to find help. However, it's important to know that there are many resources available for people who want to get help with addiction problems.
What is Addiction?
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) defines drug abuse as "recurrent use of alcohol or other drugs despite ongoing social, interpersonal, psychological, financial and physical problems related to substance use." This is an overly broad definition, but one that encompasses addiction itself.
Why is it Hard for People to Seek Treatment?
Many people who want treatment face barriers before they can seek help. Whether these issues stem from the individual themselves or their environment makes them unable to get help on time. Some reasons people do not get the help they need to include:
- Lack of transportation
- Financial issues preventing them from getting professional treatment
- Not knowing where to seek resources for addiction problems.
Of course, these barriers are just some reasons people do not get into treatment. Everyone's story is unique in this way.
Different Treatment Options
There are many treatment options for people who want to get help with addiction. Some of these include:
Inpatient rehab facilities
Where individuals can stay and focus on their sobriety in a safe environment while they go through the recovery process, rehab facilities can focus on a range of treatments. These may be helpful if you have less control over your life because of family, or work, because you can focus on recovery with no other distractions.
Outpatient treatment programs
This allows those who want to get help to continue living their life as they work towards sobriety. These may be more helpful for people with intense schedules that prevent them from being away from home and family for an extended period.
Dual diagnosis treatment
Dual diagnosis is for those who are suffering from substance abuse disorder and other mental health disorders. These programs focus on treating the addiction problem but also on making sure that there are no underlying issues, such as depression or anxiety, which may cause substance-use problems to start with.
When it comes time to find out if you are addicted to drugs or alcohol, it's important that you are honest with yourself and your loved ones. If there is an addiction problem in your life that needs treatment, then the only way to get help is by being open about what that need may be.
Now that you have a better understanding of addiction and the diverse ways to get help, it's time to act. There are many options for treatment available, so find one that works best for your needs. If you're not sure where to begin or what type of treatment is right for you, read more on how someone can recover from addiction with the help of a trained professional. You deserve quality care; visit Impact Recovery's site (https://impactrecoverycenter.net/) to get started!
The nesting instinct to create the ideal environment for your newborn is real and natural. You may find that you have an overwhelming urge to clean every nook and cranny of your home, to redecorate from top to bottom, and invest in entirely new furniture. While there is nothing wrong with this if you have the time, money, and support network around you to help with the more physical tasks, be realistic about what is necessary and achievable. At the end of the day, as long as you and the baby are happy and healthy, the rest is window dressing. Here are some factors to keep in mind when preparing your home for your new baby.
Make big changes early
The last thing you need to feel is unnecessary pressure to have a pristine ‘show home’ ready for your baby’s arrival. However, if you have been planning to invest in new living room furniture or upgrade your flooring for a while, now could be the perfect time to get it done. Just be sure to get major work done well before your due date to avoid last-minute stresses.
Focus on the essentials
Some people assume that their home needs to be a sterile and clutter-free haven to be safe for a baby, but the truth is that babies do not move until they are at least several months old. As long as you have nappies, clothes, feeding equipment, blankets, and somewhere safe and secure for them to sleep, you are ready to go. Ensuring all the essentials are organized will help you to stay relaxed in the early days and weeks so you can focus on getting to know your baby.
Pre-cook and freeze some meals
When you arrive home, you are likely to be tired and busy, so cooking may be low on your priority lists. However, it is also a good idea to eat as well as you can to ensure you have the energy and nutrition you need to be the best mom you can be. Before the birth, spend some time cooking, packing, and freezing homecooked meals that can be easily defrosted and heated as needed.
Make sure you have a car seat
It may seem obvious, but if you do not have a car seat, the hospital is unlikely to discharge the baby. It is important to get a car seat that is the right size for your baby and that both you and your partner (or close family member) are able to fit securely. Click here for tips on choosing a car seat.
Take it easy
You are probably going to have a lot of visitors in the first few weeks after your baby arrives. Usually, this might mean that you spend a lot of time on housework or making food, but this situation is different. You are perfectly within your rights to put your feet up and let others take the load for a while. If you need some alone time with your baby to recuperate and get into a rhythm before visitors start calling, ask people to wait a week or two.
If you've ever heard of hygge, you'll know it’s pronounced hue-ga. It's both a Danish and a Norwegian word, and it is used to describe the experience of feeling warm, cozy, comfortable, and connected to the people you are with. Hygge is never forced or planned down to the detail, it's organic. In other words, it's natural. It just occurs. Food can bring hygge. Light, especially candlelight. Food can bring hygge, and so can clothing. It's the feeling you get when you slip into a pair of soft sweatpants and a favorite hoodie, kick off your faux fur slippers, and crawl under a plump, down-filled comforter to watch your favorite TV show or film from the couch.
Hygge for Babies
But hygge is not an adults-only experience. It's just as important, if not more so, for babies to feel hygge, to feel hugged and comfortable even when your hands are busy. People have known this for years as witnessed by the age-old practice of swaddling infants from birth. Swaddle may seem like an outdated term, but it's what you do when you wrap your baby in a soft blanket to help her feel comfortable and protected, to remind her of how it felt in the womb. And since parents want their little ones to experience this loving snug hug-like feeling all day, it's why baby and toddler clothing is apt to be made of soft brushed cotton, and why most infant's first pieces of clothing are onesies, footed pajamas, and soft crown hats to keep their still delicate heads warm; clothes and accessories like those made by the caring craftsmen who make Cat & Dogma baby clothing.
What Do Newborns Like?
Although infants and babies can't tell you what types of clothing confer hygge to them, their reactions speak for themselves. And that holds true from their first day home. Remember how he settled down as soon as you wrapped him in the swaddle blanket you had ready and waiting for him; and how a week or two later how he made himself comfortable when you tucked him into the versatile wrapping blanket?
What Do Infants Like?
Wasn't it amazing how those days passed in a flash and your newborn became an infant and his arms and legs demanded room to move as he first mastered rolling over before going on to sitting and eventually on to crawling? That's when fitted onesies take the place of blankies or perhaps if the baby is a fast grower or has long legs, a playsuit or jumper paired with soft socks or cushy booties.
What Do Toddlers Like?
And now that he's a toddler, all you can do is sit back and marvel about how he's becoming a little person of his own. Like hygge, development isn't something you can plan, it's an organic process and all you can do is sit back and appreciate each moment and make sure he's dressed for the occasion. And while you can't manage the pace at which he develops, you can dress him to suit his personality, or okay - yours! There are sweatshirts and tops, t-shirts, and even tank tops to pair with cozy joggers or sporty pants that give plenty of roomy freedom while learning to walk and explore.
Hygge is Unisex
And the best thing about newborn, infant, and toddler clothes is that they suit boys as well as girls. But if you want to make sure everyone knows that the little being is a she, not a he, all you need do is select a pattern or graphic that attests to it. But more important is that the garments you choose are hyggelig which is the adjectival form of hygge and means something that's relaxing, safe, and comfortable; clothing that allows her or him to go off and find some hygge of their own. For hygge knows no boundaries, it's out there waiting for us all.
|Labor dilation demonstrated by carved pumpkins.|
This dilation pumpkin set-up was created by workers at the Royal Oldham Hospital in Greater Manchester, Lancashire, England as part of a pumpkin decorating competition.
We just love it!
|Royal Oldham Hospital Midwives|
Related Community Groups:
Birthing (more holistic)
Pregnant Moms Due This Year (more mainstream)
Peaceful Parenting Community
Saving Our Sons Community
Intact: Healthy, Happy, Whole
|Dilation stages during labor.|
|Before your baby arrives, research everything!|