Thursday, 14 April 2011

Subcontracting our parent instincts

It was a simple comment made by the Liberal Democrat's leader Nick Clegg that got me thinking.  I know, how scary.  Nick Clegg got me thinking!

He was asked about his thoughts with regard to Gina Ford and it was his mentioning how he felt he was subtracting his parental instincts that stopped me in my tracks.  That's exactly what I'd been talking about with a client. Everything that she did, she did instinctually.  I was merely there to smile and encourage.  She laboured beautifully.  She called me at 3am.  I arrived at 3.30am and went to bed.  At 5.30am we were at the hospital and the baby was born at 6.52am.  It was a lovely birth and she was my first "screamer" in ages.  She gave birth in the midwifery led unit where, strangely, the Midwife wanted her to do some purple pushing.   She tried it but instinctively knew that it wasn't working for her, so she screamed her baby out.  Imagine the laughter when, once holding her son, she declared "Was that it?"

When it came to birth positioning, she knew what she did and didn't want.  She wanted to labour in water, but she had no desire to birth in water.  She was 9cm dilated on arrival at the hospital.  There was an anterior lip.  But she knew she needed to push.  She got up onto all fours and she went with her body, even though she was scared.

Her son decided that breastfeeding wasn't really for him.  He wanted to sleep.  He wasn't so keen on suckling.  So the first few days of his life he had his Mother's milk spooned into him.  He would give a few half-hearted suckles.  Mum held him close and put her hand to his feet.  I asked her why (I had been about to suggest it myself).  She said that she felt he needed the purchase, something to push against and steady himself as he fed.  She was right.  He suckled a little better.  She knew it would improve, but she had tearful moments.  At no time did she consider stopping.  Her breasts became engorged and so she expressed a little off.  Then she massaged her breasts and she felt the shift and the change in the lumps.  She knew to move her son around the breast to help break down the lumps.  Then just like that he nursed.  He suckled.  He took a long long feed.  Dad burst into tears of joy.

This is the beginning of their journey, but already both Mum and Dad know that they trust the things that they want for their son.  They are willing to listen to their instincts even though they've never done this before.  They know that they want to wear their baby.  They know that no book can tell them how to raise their child.

Too many times mums are in hospital for days after the birth of their babies.  And with each one I watch as they struggle to listen to themselves having been told different ways to do the same thing.  Babies that have been given formula at the start because they are too small, too jaundiced etc.  The mothers are afraid to trust their breasts to feed their babies.  They suddenly need to know exactly how much their babies have taken in.  "Feed until the baby is sick" some are told.  The mums know that that can't be right, but they don't trust themselves.  Mothers that squat, lie down, sit down etc when their bodies are telling them that those are the wrong positions to give birth in.

We read too much, google too much, ask too much.  We need to start to listen.  Listen within and know that our instincts are there to steer us right.

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