When I began my journey to motherhood, I was like many other mothers, uncertain about what to do and a bit daunted with the task ahead of me. I researched and read every form of material I could find on what babies actually needed. My husband and I read books and articles on how to have a natural birth and the best way to ensure the ideal outcome of our birth. We took a midwife after having a poor experience with an OBGYN who didn’t agree with our method of taking care of my pregnancy. We soon found that many doctors have the view that a woman that is pregnant has more of a medical condition and the baby is probably sick or malformed until proven otherwise. We wanted to avoid ultrasounds unless it was medically necessary but doctors and nurses practically demanded it. We decided on a home birth to not leave any room for interventions. The home birth was long and tiring, but there were no interventions or complications. When my son born, he was healthy and immediately started breastfeeding. I soon found my rhythm. I began to feel a sort of motherly attachment and I even understood what it meant to love a baby’s ‘smell’, oddly enough! I hated to hear him cry or feel cold or tired or hungry. So, I began to respond in the most natural way possible- by answering his cries and it felt like second nature to me. I held him, I nursed, I rocked and I spoke to him softly to calm him. He would cry at night laying in his bassinet so I would hold him and nurse him till we both fell asleep. I soon found that nursing him next to me while we both fell asleep was easy and the most natural way to take care of him at night. Before I knew it, I was a babywearing, bedsharing, full time breastfeeding mom who strived to know everything I could about how to take care of babies, namely mine.
While nursing my son one day I was reading articles online about different parenting methods. I was in a new world altogether as before I had no idea what the different parenting methods even were, much less what they were even about. I stumbled upon an article about the dangers of Attachment Parenting and how one mom had a poor experience with it. I yelled out to my husband in the kitchen, “Honey, we are never going to do Attachment Parenting.” Funny enough, I was already practicing it in many ways. A few days later, I found a book that explained Attachment parenting and argued how important it is to listen to your God given instincts. I learned about the inherent needs that babies have and how God gave mothers certain characteristics, physical and psychological, within themselves that match exactly what babies need. Mothers and babies can have a kind of symbiotic relationship when nursing and sleeping together. Their systems regulate one another’s breathing patterns and hearbeats. In fact, a baby physically needs their mother close at night in order to regulate their body temperature and heartbeat! I realized there is so much more to this than I had originally thought. Perhaps one bad experience shouldn’t trump science and physiology.
The name ‘Attachment Parenting’ was coined by anthropologists who studied cultures that practiced keeping their babies close from newborn until children are ready to be more independent. They noted how affectionate and less violent these cultures were. They found that mothers wore their babies in a sling, breastfed on demand, and were much more attentive to their babies than more westernized cultures. Attachment Parenting has garnered more of a label in society because it is detached from what parents normally know about how to parent. This idea was completely new to America, a culture in which keeping babies close and breasfeeding on demand is basically foreign. But have many parents asked why it is so called ‘Attachment Parenting’?
It is called Attachment Parenting because it encourages the mother to build the best attachment between her and her baby possible. Attachment Parenting tells the mother to trust her instincts and not other people and the culture, though the culture around her and her ‘village’ so to speak can have a huge outcome on her mindset going into motherhood. This form of parenting tells the mother that the baby needs her and to not worry you will ‘spoil’ the baby by meeting its inherent needs for the mother’s touch and comfort. Interestingly enough, you don’t hear the label Westernized parenting as often as you do ‘hippie parenting’ or Attachment Parenting, even though westernized parenting is much more recent than the former. In terms of history, sleeping separately from babies is a new invention. Cosleeping used to be the norm across cultures. Even today, cosleeping in other societies is still the norm. When it comes to breastfeeding, countries with the lowest income are more likely to be successful breastfeeding. That’s because breastfeeding is the most natural option to feed your babies and the best most nutritious option for ideal development. High income countries are more likely to have variables that get in the way of mothers breastfeeding, such as careers or a culture that tells the mother that she needs to work or grab formula, etc. Did you know that babywearing was initially used by nomadic peoples who had mothers that needed to conserve their energy? They invented the baby sling so they could work and do things without having the baby in arms tiring themselves out further as energy was scarce. Then the invention of the stroller was brought out and therefore making the baby carrier less popular in the 1950s. The best way to look at it is that it is not a new form of parenting that has been brought about and therefore making generations today ‘weird’ or ‘hippie’. It’s simply parents noticing that some of these methods are not working as well as they could hope and therefore going back to the roots of how God has wired us to be. Babies inherently need touch and to be held and rocked. Mothers need hormonal attachment in order to better respond to her baby and ensure a strong bond. Babies need human milk and physical closeness at night to ensure their systems work efficiently and effectively.
If we label it ‘Attachment Parenting’ and make it something separate from what is the norm today, we assume that this form of parenting is not the norm when in fact it should be the other way around. Attachment parenting is natural parenting at its core. Westernized parenting, wherein we assume the baby’s needs are a nuisance, we should sleep separately from them and train them to do what their body’s are not naturally wired to do, and we should just hand them formula is the new form of parenting and not natural parenting at its roots. If there is anything I would like to see, it would be to see natural parenting assumed and more widely accepted.
If you would like more information about Attachment Parenting and what it could mean for you and your baby, it is never too late to start. Grab this book and give your baby the best start to life!