I am ready to issue this baby an eviction notice. I’m not comfortable. There’s no way she’s comfortable. All good things must come to an end, and it’s time for her to exit my body. I’ve been trying to bribe her out, with promises of a lifetime of love (and maybe a pony when she’s five), and I think it may be working. I’m almost completely effaced, a little bit dilated, and her head is poised by the exit — now, I just wait (and whine).
See, I want her out, but not away. When she’s here, I have every intention of keeping her as close to me as possible. I’m a big proponent of “attachment parenting.” It seems strange to call it a parenting style, but I suppose that is what it is. As opposed to the “let them cry it out” school of parenting, attachment parenting promotes high-responsiveness and, well, attachment to your baby. This is based on the belief that when a baby cries, they are communicating a need to their caregiver, and the more consistently that communication is acknowledged (and the need met) the more secure the baby feels. And while many people mistakenly believe that this high level of interaction spoils a baby and undermines their independence, quite the opposite is true: The more secure a baby feels, the more equipped they’ll be to venture off on their own when the time comes, because they know where home base is.
Dr. Sears outlines “Seven B’s of Attachment Parenting” in The Baby Book: “birth bonding; belief in the signal of your baby’s cries; breastfeeding; babywearing; bedding close to baby; balance and boundaries; and beware of baby trainers.” While all seven are equally important, there are three parenting choices which fall within those seven that I feel very strongly about: breastfeeding, bed sharing, and babywearing. How you parent is an incredibly personal choice, one where the adage “different strokes for different folks” is all too appropriate, so take my opinion with a grain of salt — to each his own.
Breastfeeding While at times I am overwhelmed by the initial challenge of breastfeeding, I think it’s amazing that my body will produce specially formulated nourishment for my little one. In addition to perfectly balanced nutrition, breast milk provides the baby with immunity boosting antibodies to bolster their developing immune system. And every feeding is an opportunity to bond with the baby: Did you know that newborns can only see about 8 to 10 inches in front of them? That’s almost exactly the distance from their mother’s breast to her face. Sometimes it’s not even the sustenance, but the closeness and sucking that baby needs. So breastfeeding is healthy, soothing, and free — what’s not to like? For more information on the benefits of breastfeeding, visit La Leche League.
Bed Sharing or Co-sleeping This is a controversial one: There are many people who would say that sleeping with baby in your bed is dangerous and irresponsible, while a number of others would say that the risks are inaccurate and benefits undeniable. I plan on bed sharing for a couple reasons (both researched and intuitive): For one, it feels strange to expect this newborn person, who has never known being alone, to be comfortable enough in a dark room by themselves to sleep; infants, especially newborns, need the reassurance a caregiver’s presence provides to fall comfortably in and out of sleep. And it is proven that sleeping close to mom helps regulate the often-erratic breathing of a newborn. Second, as I plan on breastfeeding, having baby close will mean cozier, more fluid nighttime feedings. Of course, she’ll nap alone in her crib, and move into her own bed eventually, but I think sharing is a good place to start. (I should also mention that there is a difference between bed sharing and bed sharing safely: Just as in a crib, there should be nothing around baby’s face that could obstruct breathing, so keep pillows and comforters away and baby on their back.)
Babywearing When I explained this one to my mother, she thought I would never put the baby down. She’s half right; baby wearing, which involves using a sling or wrap to carry baby close to your body, is prevalent in most cultures around the world, yet here in the US we subscribe more to picking baby up only to feed them or change them or play with them a bit. We spend tons of money on chairs and swings that vibrate and light up and sing, all in the hopes that it will entertain or soothe baby so that we can put them down and do the dishes or fold laundry. But the naturally most soothing place for a baby to be is with you. When a baby is worn, they benefit from the physical proximity they enjoyed in the womb — the calming sound of your heart beating, your breathing, your voice vibrating. Worn babies cry less, and are able to put that energy towards developing. And with baby in a sling, you can still have two free hands to get things done. For more information on the benefits of babywearing, read this article.
For more information on Dr. Sears’ Attachment Parenting, visit www.askdrsears.com.