Archive for the ‘Mother and Baby as One’ Category

Natural Family Planning and the Mother!

Sunday, 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 and Avoiding Poor Attachment

Sunday, December 10th, 2017

How do you avoid poor attachment with your baby?  (continued from previous blog)

Dr. Ken Magid, a clinical psychologist for 20 years, said that “second to killing someone, isolation is the worst thing we can do” and, therefore, that babies need to be nursed, rocked, swayed, and held.  According to Magid, nurturing is the key.  Having a good outcome for your child begins by “being wanted” as an infant and “being wanted” starts at the breast of the mother.  High-risk children have experienced trauma in their lives, and it usually happens during the first year and a half of life.  The trauma is due to severe stress, said Magid, and these high-risk kids place little value on their lives and no value on other people’s lives.

What researchers have learned is that stress harms brain cells.  During stress the body gives out large doses of cortisol.  Cortisol can shrink the part of the brain responsible for learning.  Cortisol can also stunt the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other by causing the connecting dendrites to atrophy.  Brain cells die in both humans and animals when neglected by their mothers.   That’s the bad news.  The good news is that the mother’s physical presence or contact with her baby protects the baby against these harmful effects.

Isabelle Fox, a psychotherapist for 35 years, compares the effects upon a small child when a total stranger takes care of him to the lack of care of one spouse to another spouse.  She says:  “How important would any married person feel if his or her spouse was seldom home when needed or paid a stranger to take him or her out for dinner or to a movie?”  The child taken care of by others similarly can feel he is of little value to his parents.  In a parenting magazine, The Nurturing Parent, last summer, Dr. Fox asks:  “Is there a noticeable difference in the child parented by a consistent, nurturing caregiver in the crucial pre-verbal years of zero to three years of age?”  She answers “Yes!   I have seen the benefits of a consistent, responsive caregiver, and the disasters when this does not occur.”

I know people, and I’m sure you do also, who are hurting because they feel they have no family that cares about them or who feel their parents show no interest in them.  This situation can be very painful for anyone, even as adults.  As Gerald Campbell [mentioned in last week’s blog] said, “Americans have an aloneness that cannot be tolerated by the human heart.”    And to repeat from last week’s blog,  the proper care of a little one can be summarized with three key words:  Availability, Responsiveness, and Sensitivity.  And those three forms of care by the mother occur more easily with breastfeeding.
(Sheila Kippley:   These last four blogs were part of a keynote address given at LLL So. Calif. State Conference, May 1998.  I feel the importance of the mother’s presence to her baby during the early years  needs to be repeated every few years.)

Breastfeeding and Avoiding Poor Attachment

Sunday, December 3rd, 2017

How do we avoid poor attachment with our baby?  Let’s look at what some of the experts are saying about “poor attachments”?  William Gairdner in his book, War Against the Family, says that experts unanimously agree that “poorly attached children are sociopaths in the making.”  So, according to him, how do we avoid having poorly attached children?  Gairdner gives us the answer using 3 key words which pertain to the mother:

AVAILABILITY           RESPONSIVENESS       SENSITIVITY

He stresses that “the pattern of attachment developed in infancy and early childhood is profoundly influenced by the mother’s ready availability, her responsiveness to his need for comfort and protection, and her sensitivity to her child’s signals.”  In other words, the mother has to be there to read the signals of her baby, and she has to respond to him in a sensitive manner.

He adds that the need for the baby to have this kind of care has been consistently shown to be true based on the work of three researchers, (Mary Ainsworth, Mary Main, and Alan Stroufe) each working at 3 different major universities.  Thus mothers must be available, be responsive, and be sensitive.  With breastfeeding these three characteristics are more likely to be present in the mother. 

Gairdner also states:  “Young children need an uninterrupted, intimate, continuous connection with their mothers, especially in the very early months and years.”  We are all here today to celebrate the reality that breastfeeding gives children what they need.

It’s uninterrupted.  The mother has to be there to nurse her child.

It’s intimate.  With breastfeeding there is a special closeness between mother and child.

It’s continuous.  Certainly nursing for one, two, or more years is a continuous event.

And prolonged lactation provides that one consistent person or caregiver that is said to be so important during the early years.

Gerald Campbell from Impact, a group based near D.C., claims that the #1 problem in our society is alienation, an emptiness, “an aloneness that cannot be tolerated by the human heart.”  Campbell lived with the homeless for three years.  He learned that even if you gave them a house and a good job, they would still be lonely.  As he said, what people need isn’t what is worn on their backs, it’s what is in their hearts.   According to Campbell, what people really need is “love, understanding, mercy and compassion, and commitment” from one person who learns to give of self “without any conditions or expectations whatsoever.”   From my viewpoint and from the standpoint of the baby, this one person would be his mother.  And isn’t that what breastfeeding is all about?  A mother learning to give of herself by showing love, understanding and compassion to her baby.

I heard Gerald Campbell speak in September of 1997 and was quite impressed.  He spoke ill of daycare and emphasized the value of the mother’s presence.  In his own words, “Personal relationships–whether within a family, among friends, at work, or with strangers–have become increasingly self-centered….The family today resembles more a collection of detached individuals than a community of love.  Too many Americans feel abandoned and alone.”

According to Campbell, the first three years in the life of a child are crucial.  If the child does not have a mother or that one person who offers consistent care, he says that “eventually, the child will become fearful of all others and, driven by rejection into an egocentric existence, he will succumb to a hedonistic and utilitarian self-indulgence whose emptiness can only be a lifelong burden.”

That’s why the attachment parenting and the breastfeeding that you do during the first three years of life are so important; it can have a lifelong healthy influence on your child.  And they may keep him or her from being a lifelong burden to others.

Sometimes the importance of those first three years comes up unexpectedly.  There was an article on “The Big, Bad Bully” in Psychology Today, their Sept/Oct 1995 issue.  Being a big, bad bully is very common behavior among school-age children, and at that time was almost always ignored by teachers.  The victims suffer physical or verbal abuse, continued social persecution or rejection.  What the researchers found out to their surprise was that they were studying younger and younger age groups for the cause of bullying.  First, they studied aggression in adult criminals, then adolescents, then younger children, and finally two year olds!   As one researcher said:  “If you had told me I was going to be studying two year olds, I would have said you were crazy.”  The researchers learned that bullies are made, not born.  That bullies are formed by “parental behavior or by neglect,” and it “begins in the early caregiver/child interaction.”
(Sheila Kippley, part of keynote address, LLL So. Calif. State Conference, May 1998)
More on attachment next week.