The Mother and Her Importance for a Healthy Society

May 20th, 2018

The oneness of mother and baby is important for society.
How can we improve society? William Gairdner in his book, The War Against the Family, claims that there is unanimity on this important point: “poorly attached children are sociopaths in the making.” To avoid poorly attached children, the answer is good mothering. His key words for good mothering are these: availability, responsiveness, and sensitivity. Mr. Gairdner pointed out that three separate research studies conducted at three different major universities all clearly showed that what babies and young children need is l) mother’s availability, 2) mother’s sensitivity to her child’s signals, and 3) mother’s responsiveness to her child’s need for comfort and protection.4 In other words, the mother has to be there, she has to read the signals of her baby, and she has to respond to her baby in a sensitive manner.
Gairdner also states that “young children need an uninterrupted, intimate, and continuous connection with their mothers, especially in the very early months and years.” With prolonged breastfeeding, the mother does have an uninterrupted and continuous relationship with her baby, and it’s an intimate relationship as well.

Andrew Payton Thomas in his book, Crime and the Sacking of America, believes that one of the reasons the crime rates are soaring is because both parents are joining the workforce.  “The rise of daycare in modern America says some painful things about us as parents and as a nation and culture, things that are easier for adults to leave unsaid. But the truth is always worth telling, and it is this: Many American parents today simply do not wish to raise their own children. Indeed, never before in history have a people become so intensely individualistic that their love for their children can be purchased so cheaply… Children are taught, literally from the cradle, that life is looking out for #1.

Gerald Campbell, head of The Impact Group, claims that the #1 problem in our society is alienation, an emptiness, “an aloneness that cannot be tolerated by the human heart.” What people really need in his estimation is love, understanding, mercy and compassion, and commitment” from one person who learns to give of self “without any conditions or expectations whatsoever.”  Campbell spoke of daycare as the ill of the future, and he stressed the value of a mother’s presence.

To prevent alienation in our society and to develop healthy individuals who feel loved and valued, good care by the mother for her child during the first three years of life is crucial. What is so important about breastfeeding is that it usually gives babies the best nurturing and the best nutrition. Prolonged lactation naturally provides those two realities that make such a positive difference!

1997 was a year of studies for the infant.
The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 1979 as the International Year of the Child. Since these designations are made years in advance, there was ample time for research. Thus 1997 was a famous year for such publications. In the spring of 1997, new studies showed that “the neurological foundation for problem solving and reasoning are largely established by age one” and that the “number of words an infant hears each day from an attentive, engaged person is the single most important predictor of later intelligence, school success and social competence.” These studies stimulated new interest in the effects of nurturing and breast milk upon the brain. As a result, Newsweek published an entire issue on “the critical first three years of life.”

The main conclusion of the 1997 studies was that the number of words a baby hears during the first year of life must come from an “attentive, engaged human being.” Discussion centered on the importance of the parents’ role in the intellectual development of their child during the first three years of life and especially the first year of life when the infant’s brain is growing at a tremendous rate. By nature, that engaged, attentive person is the breastfeeding mother.

In the fall of 1997 there was another series of studies dealing with maternal deprivation. At the Society of Neuroscience meeting in New Orleans, it was reported that children need lots of hugs and physical reassurance for proper development of the brain. Romanian children raised without this physical contact from their mother had abnormally high levels of stress hormones. This parental neglect can have lifelong consequences. “Scientists have known for decades that maternal deprivation can mark children for life with serious behavioral problems, leaving them withdrawn, apathetic, slow to learn, and prone to chronic illness. Moreover, new animal research reveals that without the attention of a loving caregiver early in life, some of an infant’s brain cells simply commit suicide.” Does this apply to humans? Mark Smith, a psychologist at the DuPont Merck Research Labs in Wilmington, Delaware said: “These cells are committing suicide. Let this be a warning to us humans. The effects of maternal deprivation may be much more profound than we had imagined.”

How does stress affect the child’s brain? How does a mother’s presence protect or minimize the effects of stress upon her baby’s brain? During stress the body secretes large doses of cortisol to provide strength. However, cortisol can also shrink the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for learning, and can stunt the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other by causing the connecting dendrites to atrophy. This helps to explain why cortisol is associated with severely delayed development. That’s the bad news. The good news is that the mother’s physical contact with her baby protects the baby against these harmful effects.

There are not many in Westernized cultures today who promote the importance of the mother being there for her baby during the early years. One does not want to offend the many mothers who seek fulfillment at the office or the classroom. In addition, many societies keep telling mothers that anyone can replace them. But that’s not true. A mother should be irreplaceable in the early life of a child. Today one hardly ever hears or reads what the experts and studies have shown, that it’s the concentrated interaction with one parent during the first three years of life that is so important. It’s because the baby is so important that the mother’s presence is so important. With prolonged lactation the mother can give many, many hours of nurturing during the crucial first three years.
Sheila Kippley
Next week:  Natural child spacing and mother-baby inseparability

Natural Family Planning and the Mother!

May 13th, 2018

Nature intends for mother and baby to be one, a biological unit. Mothers who remain with their babies will find it easy to follow the ecological breastfeeding program. Nature rewards the ecological breastfeeding mother by providing many benefits to her, including natural child spacing. Any mother who is interested in natural mothering and its related child spacing effect should desire the oneness that nature intended between mother and child. In fact, such a mother soon discovers that she does not want to leave her baby; instead she makes every effort to have her baby with her no matter where she goes.

A nursing mother who loves and cares for her baby will experience a relationship that she may never have with other persons. As one mother told me, “This is the first time I ever felt truly needed, that I was irreplaceable.” This love relationship is built in naturally—the mother’s body is geared toward giving by the continuous production of milk. Likewise, breastfeeding hormones help her to feel more motherly. Nature has her own built-in laws for the child’s development, and today her ways are being discovered more and more by researchers in the field.

The World Health Organization described this oneness well: “Mothers and babies form an inseparable biological and social unit; the health and nutrition of one group cannot be divorced from the health and nutrition of the other.” Other researchers have described mother and infant as one biological system.

Mother-baby togetherness is the key to natural child spacing.
The practice of mother-baby togetherness has an impact on natural child spacing. The following example helps to make this point. A study conducted in the West African country of Rwanda discovered that there were no differences in the birth intervals of bottlefeeding mothers in the city compared to those in the rural areas. On the other hand, among breastfeeding mothers, there were significant differences. The city breastfeeding mothers were already developing patterns of separation from their babies; 75% of the city breastfeeding mothers conceived between 6 and 15 months postpartum. However, in the rural areas, the breastfeeding mothers still kept their babies with them all the time; 75% of the rural breastfeeding mothers conceived between 24 and 29 months postpartum. In this culture there were no contraceptives used or taboos against intercourse after childbirth. The researchers concluded that the only difference they could see between the two breastfeeding groups was the amount of physical contact the baby had with his mother.

The baby is important, but so is the mother.
A chief ingredient for a healthy start in life is the presence of a continuous loving relationship with one mother figure. Nature has arranged this type of care through the oneness of mother and child through breastfeeding. Contrary to the popular opinion that you will spoil your baby by responding promptly to his needs, we are now being told that you can’t give the baby too much love. Love him, enjoy him, meet his needs, and respond to his smiles, cries, and discomforts. Again, nature has already ensured that babies will receive this constant, individualized loving attention through the breastfeeding that only a mother can provide. Ecological breastfeeding provides lots of personal contact with the baby and is eminently well suited for taking care of baby’s nutritional and emotional needs. Mother and baby are one.

With breastfeeding this relationship becomes even more evident. Maria Montessori was a strong promoter of breast-milk-only for the first six months of life, very gradual weaning, and mother-baby inseparability during the early years. In fact, she recommended nursing for 1½ to 3 years. Why? Because “prolonged lactation requires the mother to remain with her child.”  She had it right back in 1949 when she wrote the first edition of The Absorbent Mind. Where would societies be today if parents had listened and followed her advice?
Sheila Kippley
Next week:  Mother and her Importance for a Healthy Society

Breastfeeding Research: November and December 2017

May 6th, 2018

Breastfeeding in infancy protects against the future development of Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC), according to new research. The protection conferred by breastfeeding increased with duration of breastfeeding, with strongest decrease in risk seen when the child was breastfed for at least 12 months for CD and UC versus 3 or 6 months. The researchers concluded that breastfeeding confers protection against the development of CD and UC. Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, November 2017.

Breastfeeding for at least two months cuts a baby’s risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome almost in half. Breastfeeding for less than two months did not provide this benefit. As one researcher said: “The other important finding from our study is that any amount of breastfeeding reduces the risk of SIDS — in other words, both partial and exclusive breastfeeding appear to provide the same benefit.” Pediatrics, November 2017.

Direct breastfeeding provided more protection against asthma than expressed breast milk. Pediatrics, November 2017.

Exclusive breastfreeding may protect against flexural dermatitis or flexural eczema. JAMA Pediatrics, online November 13, 2017

In Bangladesh, of the 1918 infants studied, 56% were exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of life. This study found that exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months could have prevented around 27.37% of reported diarrhea and 8.94% of the acute respiratory disease cases. Breastfeeding prevents many diseases, and the two researchers, in their own words, explain why: “The mechanisms through which breastfeeding have protective effects on infectious diseases are multiple. Firstly, human milk has specific immunologic properties that protect the infants from infection. Secondly, the array of antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory protection, and bioactive molecules and compounds of breast milk create protections against infection. Thirdly, breast milk promotes mucosal maturation, stimulating neonatal immune systems; limits exposure to the germs from foreign dietary antigens.” BMC Public Health, November 21, 2017.

Crohn’s disease is preventable by breastfeeding. Crohn’s disease has reached epidemic proportion and the published paper explains why this is due to women abandoning breastfeeding for infant formula. Advanced Research in Gastroenterolotgy & Hepatology, December 2017.

More than 10,000 teenagers were studied regarding weight. Those who were breastfed had lower odds of being overweight or obese at age 14. Centre of Longitudinal Studies Report, December 7, 2017.

Sheila Kippley