||[Dec. 10th, 2006|06:53 pm]
Welcome to the liberal pregnancy community. |
An empty community seems kind of sad, so I thought I'd post about the books I've been reading so far in preparation for this pregnancy.
The Attachment Parenting Book by William and Martha Sears, M.D. and R.N., respectively, is a quick and easy read. Most of the book is spent trying to convince you that Attachment Parenting is good. Given that the authors work with babies and have 8 children of their own, they come across as fairly credible sources.
Babies cry because they are trying to communicate. They can't talk, they can't do things for themselves, all they can do is cry.
When you respond quickly to your baby, it learns that it is cared for, that people are listening, and that you love it. Baby will grow up to be happier and healthier.
Many people believe in something the authors call 'detachment parenting'. This parenting method hypothesizes that picking a baby up when it cries will reward the baby for crying, which will teach the baby to cry more. Detachment parenting teaches that one should ignore the baby when it cries, and only feed it/change it/hug it etc. on a pre-set schedule.
The problem with detachment parenting, as the book points out, is that babies do not have other ways of telling us that things are wrong. If you ignore a baby who is crying because they are sitting in a pile of shit, the baby will not suddenly walk over to you, tug on your hem, and say, "Excuse me, ma'am, but do you think you could remove this excrement from my diaper?"
Ignoring baby's cry does not teach them to be 'good', it teaches them that you don't care if they're hungry, tired, need to be held, or just pooped.
The book outlines 7 'Baby Bs' which it uses to highlight important aspects of Attachment Parenting:
Bedding close to baby
Belief in Baby's cry
Beware of baby trainers
Obviously not everyone can do all of these things, nor will they work for everyone, but they help get you in the general mindset of how attachment parenting works.
Bonding is a fairly obvious one, but in this book it specifically refers to being with your baby immediately after birth. If possible, try to hold the baby a bit before the nurses do all of the washing, measuring, etc. Skin-to-skin contact is best (especially since it makes it easier to breastfeed.) If you are staying overnight in the hospital, it is better to have the baby in your room with you than in a nursery far away. The most obvious advantage to this is that when the baby starts crying, you can pick it up and comfort it immediately, while it is still only moderately unhappy, rather than after it's been crying for several minutes already while a nurse had to bring it to you and is now desperately unhappy.
Even premature babies who have to be in special care units can still benefit from bonding with their parents.
Breastfeeding may be a little harder to convince people of than bonding. I know I started out a skeptic--the idea of other creatures using my body like we use cows seemed downright disgusting. However, the scientific data (which I'm going to be bad and not cite) is pretty clear on this issue: human babies are supposed to drink human milk. Babies which are breastfed are healthier and smarter than non-breastfed babies, and their mothers receive numerous health benefits as well.
The book talks about breastfeeding in more detail; how it benefits you and baby; what to do if there are problems (buy a book on breastfeeding or hire a lactation consultant;) etc. Breastfeeding also provides an opportunity for more bonding.
Babywearing is exactly what it sounds like. You've probably seen those little baby kangaroo pouches people wear, and possibly even baby slings. Keeping your baby close to you like that keeps it warm, comfortable, and in a place where you can easily observe its moods and activities, thus alerting you before it starts crying that, for example, a load of poop was just deposited in its diaper. Additionally, babies which are carried have a more interesting perspective on the world--there's very little to be seen from the level of a pram or stroller other than big people's knees. A held baby will have more interaction with people face-to-face, have more opportunities to observe social interactions, etc.
Balance means taking your baby to baby gymnastics classes every morning--no no, just kidding. It means not letting the baby take over your life to the point where all you ever think about is babybabybaby and the rest of your family members feel lonely and you feel like you're going crazy. Everything should be in balance. Attachment parenting is about giving baby what baby needs--not everything baby wants. (Obviously that becomes more of a problem as baby gets older.)
Bedding close to Baby When my husband first mentioned the idea of sleeping with our baby, I threw a fit. ABSOLUTELY NOT. I was convinced we would roll on top of it and kill it the moment we crawled in bed together.
This book has done a full 180 on my thinking. While it doesn't exactly go into hard scientific data or cite a bunch of studies (I imagine such things would bore the average reader,) the evidence seems pretty clear that not only do most parents not roll onto their babies at night while co-sleeping, the babies have a lowered chance of SIDS. There are some modifications which need to be made to make a normal bed baby-safe, of course, but the number of babies who die each year from getting caught in a headboard or squished in a normal bed is about an order of magnitude lower than the number of babies who die in their cribs each year from SIDS.
Besides which, babies find it easier to nurse and bond when they're lying next to their parents, rather in the lonely, cold dark in another room.
Belief in baby's cry I already talked about this one, so no need to rehash it ad naseum. Babies cry to communicate, not because they're being naughty. Stop listening to your baby, and either the baby will try harder to communicate, or will stop communicating at all.
Beware of baby trainers: In a nutshell, believe in yourself! Don't listen to people who try to make you feel insecure, who insult your parenting style, etc. And most of all, don't listen to people who tell you to ignore your baby. After all, only you know what's best for your baby.
Overall, I would say that I enjoyed this book, though I think it could easily have been half the length and contained all of the important information. But it's a short book, so no harm done.