I was perusing (I was really tempted to spell this like “paroozing” here) through instagram with the hashtag #naturalparenting one day when I came across this meme. It wasn’t that well produced, actually it was pretty shabby… but it was powerful. This homemade meme caused me to have yet again another mind reeling, stark realization that forced my American brain-washed head to get out of the clouds and “come to the light”. I mean come on – top right picture, I’ve seen this product in stores, I’ve seen women pinning it on their pinterest boards with captions like “Baby Must Have!”, “Ingenious Idea!”. So you’re telling me, not only can we not be bothered to breastfeed anymore, but now we can’t even be bothered to hold the damn bottle?! I’ve never used this acronym before, but I feel it is appropriate here… S.M.H.
I looked around my home at all of the items that I had asked for, that people generously and lovingly bought for us to celebrate the arrival of our first child.
I saw the baby swing that mimicked the motion of being carried. The manufacturer even had the courtesy to incorporate the sound of a heartbeat! How clever, so my baby will think she is being rocked to sleep in her mother’s arms when really I am lounging on the couch reading a magazine… A stress free Mom is more important than a happy baby right?! Isn’t that what they say….
I looked in my kitchen at the bottles and nipples I had just unpacked. The packages said things like “breast like!”, “slow-flow to best mimic breast flow“, “Anti-colic!” , “Found to effectively reduce gas“, and so on. On top of that, the drawer full of pacifiers I had managed to stock up on all looked like poorly replicated versions of my own “organic” nipples.
Formula samples that were shipped to me via formula companies in hopes that I failed or gave up breastfeeding said things like “Easy to digest!“, “Proven to help fussiness” and again with the “Anti-colic!” slogan.
My breast pump had settings on it that mimicked the suckling behavior of a baby. I looked into my perfectly decorated nursery and saw a baby mobile that played soft lullaby music that was meant to “soothe” my baby to sleep so that I didn’t have to. I looked at the expensive crib my mother in law gifted us and suddenly it seemed so inappropriate- the slats kind of look like prison bars don’t they?
I looked at my stroller and car-seat carrier which placed my baby out of sight and out of my arms. Great! I do not have to carry my baby or see her at all!! Now my life will be so much easier! (Sarcasm if you didn’t catch that)
I could think of a hundred more examples! I am bombarded by this notion of “imitation” every time I step into a Babies “R” Us. I sometimes just want to avoid baby sections all together because I find all of the mockery to be irritating.
I know, I know, you are rolling your eyes right about now.
So we took some shortcuts along the way, so what? Well, in my opinion there cannot be a cause without the effect.
I am not an extreme naturalist,… I love fast food! (occasionally) I love diet soda! (A lot), I believe in the manipulation of science to achieve perfect produce and modern medicine (cough, cough like vaccines!)….and some of these “baby rearing” innovations I have found to be even necessary. For instance, I could not have returned to work and successfully breastfed my daughter without the use of my breast pump or bottles. But I do however understand that I simply was not biologically designed to leave my baby for that long of a time period. So yes, being able to express and store breastmilk (and maintain my milk supply) gives me options but I am perpetually aware of how this is simply going against nature and in my heart I do not feel good about it.
We have learned as a human race that efficiency sometimes comes with a price (If you need an example, look around and take in your badly damaged environment) and when it comes to raising a little human, I want to troll the clearance rack.
I feel that these imitations designed to make our lives as parents easier and to make the transition to having a baby as “Stress free” and uninterrupted as possible simply just fall short and deprive our infants of what they are biologically entitled to.
For example, in the 20th century when standard hospital practice was to keep all of the newly born infants in a nursery away from their mothers… it occurred to someone to play the sound of a heartbeat over the nursery loudspeaker. It resulted in such dramatic effect of the infants health that it received worldwide attention.
It is the biological norm and expectancy that ouroffspring will spend their most fragile months/years close to their mother (or next best counterpart). Do we as adults think that the infant phase holds no value because we simply have amnesia to it? I don’t know how to say it clearer: They need us in close capacity.
So what about formula vs. breastmilk? I will not go into a deep debate but I want to start off by saying I am NOT “Anti-formula”. I respect and am grateful for what the invention of formula has done for the infant mortality rate. I believe it has been revolutionary and a necessity. But I do however think it is and always will be a sub-par substitute. It is produced from an entirely different species and I personally feel … it should be used as a last resort.
For example, new facts about breastmilk are still being discovered. Did you know the mother’s body is capable of recognizing pathogens in the baby’s system and will start to produce the specific antibodies BEFORE the infant even shows symptoms of illness? Or, it has recently been found that breastmilk (which was always thought to be sterile) actually contains mother’s gut flora (they still don’t know HOW the body does this btw), which in theory is
used to cultivate the infant’s digestive tract. It is no coincidence that formula fed babies are prone to “reflux”, “gas”, and “colic”. Not to mention, when a baby is feeding from the breast, there is almost no air entering the digestive system whatsoever. Why do you think bottle companies have strived so hard to tackle this problem?
The point is, we have adaptations that we have only begun to understand… and these adaptations matter. IMO, we have become a little wreck-less and irresponsible by by-passing these tools we have been given as mothers.
When I meet new mothers, I can tell their parenting style right off the bat. Most of them (but not all) practice the most socially accepted mainstream parenting styles (i.e. Sleep training, bottle feeding, etc.). They usually have never heard of the terms “babywearing” or “co-sleeping”, and if they did, they typically believe in the criticisms of “hippy parenting” (or whatever you want to call it).
A lot of conversations go like this, “He won’t sleep!”, “He was a reflux baby so he was always crying”, to which I respond with “Just put him in bed with you“, or “Is he breastfed?”.
I just can’t help but respond this way. To me, the solution is so obvious: parent the way we were designed to parent and in turn you will find harmony.
Let’s face it- we’ve gotten a little lazy, scared, and somewhat diluted. But that doesn’t mean the tides can’t begin to change…
“There is nothing new except what has been forgotten.”
― Marie Antoinette