Questions to Ask Your Midwife

I recently came across a wonderful article listing the questions one should ask one’s midwife. I personally did ask many of these, as I was a very nervous first time mama who didn’t want to end up at a hospital under any circumstances.  My experience with The Birth Place under Jennie Joseph was wonderful and most of these were answered without my even needing to ask.  The answers to these questions are going to depend on different factors which we can go over in future.  However, these will give you things to think about and help you with the interview process.

Original blog here: http://www.growingslower.com/2012/09/47-questions-i-should-have-asked-my.html

Midwife Jennie Joseph

Interview Questions…

Experience

1.   What is your philosophy regarding pregnancy and birth and your role in it?
2.   How many births have you attended?
3.   What percentage of women successfully have a natural birth under your care?
4.   What percentage of women need to transfer to the hospital (if planning a home birth or birth center birth)? What is the typical reason?
5.   What percentage of moms end up with a C-section?
6.   What percentage of moms end up with an epidural?
7.   What percentage of babies are transferred to NICU?
8.   What is the mortality rate for moms? For babies?
9.   Do you have hospital privileges? At what hospitals?
10. If you have children, what were your birth experiences like?
11. How many midwives or obstetricians are on the team? Who are your assistants? Will I get to meet all of them? What is their experience? Can I be sure that you will attend my birth?
12. Do you deliver breech babies naturally? VBACs? Twins?
13. How many births do you attend per month?

Pregnancy & Prenatal Care

14. What usually happens at prenatal appointments? How many? When? How long are they?
15. Are you available by phone or email for questions?
16. What is your philosophy on weight gain, nutrition, prenatal supplements, and exercise?
17. What factors would risk me out of your practice? How will you help me prevent these?
18. What child birth class do you recommend?
19. What prenatal testing to you encourage?
20. What type of gestational diabetes testing do you typically use?
21. Do you recommend ultrasounds? When? How many?
22. Do you typically do vaginal checks during prenatal appointments? When?
23. What happens if I go past my due date? How late can I be and still birth under your care (if a midwife)?
24. What testing do you do for a late baby? Starting at how many weeks?
25. Do you have any concerns about big babies being birthed naturally?

Labor

26. When do you do vaginal checks during labor?
27. What type of monitoring do you do during labor? How often? For how long?
28. Do you routinely use an IV or hep-lock?
29. Are there birth tubs in each room in the birth center? What if one is not available when I’m in labor?
30. Is a water birth available? If not, am I able to push in the tub at all?
31. How long do you recommend I stay in the water at one time? Do I need to get out for monitoring?
32. How many women are under the care of one midwife or doctor at a time? How much will you be with me throughout my labor?
33. Are you comfortable working alongside a doula? Do you have particular doulas you recommend?
34. How long can I labor without induction?
35. When would you recommend induction? Do you use natural induction methods first?
36. How long can I labor without intervention after my water breaks?
37. Who attends a birth? (Students, assistants, nurses, etc.)
38. When do you feel amniotomy is indicated?
39. Can I eat and drink during labor?
40. What’s your process for implementing a family’s birth plan?
41. What positions are available during labor? While pushing?
42. What are reasons you would initiate a transfer to a hospital (if a home birth or birth center birth)?
43. How long do you allow for delivery of the placenta? When do you cut the cord?

Postpartum & Newborn Care

44. What post-partum care do you provide? When? How many appointments? Where?
45. What does newborn care consist of? Under what circumstances would my newborn need to be taken away from me for treatment?
46. Are you comfortable with me declining bathing, vitamin K, heel poke, eye ointment, vaccinations?
47. Can you help me initiate breastfeeding?

What was your experience interviewing midwives and obstetricians? What was the most important question you asked?

Creative Pregnancy, Birth Announcement, Maternity Photos

Browsing Pinterest can give you so much inspiration for great, creative pregnancy, birth announcement, maternity and gender announcement photos. We found this blog to have some really beautiful ideas and had to share!

Creative Pregnancy and Newborn Photos

I took some photos during my pregnancy, but I admit they weren’t planned or made into something creative or cute. I wish I had! At least I did put more thought into taking photos of my son each month. Every time he turned a month older, we took pictures of him with an owl sticker. I know that for baby number 2 I’ll make sure to plan carefully so we can make really cute memories! Here are a few examples of my baby boy’s monthly photos:

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Did you take creative photos to announce your pregnancy or the gender? How about monthly photographs of baby?

Why you need to burn your crib, or make it an awesome laundry hamper!

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It seems to me that everything in western civilization is done backwards. In the beginning of life, when infants are the most sensitive and need physical touch and affection, at the point when their wants ARE their needs, parents refuse them this closeness, motivating it by the need to make them independent and for their safety. Then, when the baby is past this dependence stage (in most cases, with already developed sense of “wrongness”) and ready to become independent, parents all of a sudden, start following them around, constantly repeating disturbing messages like “don’t touch this, you going to hurt yourself”, “Don’t touch that, you’re going to break this”, “be careful, you’ going to fall” – basically setting them up for failure and undermining their sense of competency and self-confidence!

The truth of the matter is – holding your baby, breastfeeding your baby, sleeping next to your baby, isn’t just a nice social idea or a new trend. It’s physiological regulation for the baby’s body. It is what baby’s system expects to experience, so its heart rate, its breathing, its body temperature; his hormonal state and immune system will function efficiently.

It is not just an interesting innovation that someone, a middle class, white doctor, thought that the baby should be elsewhere, except where his parents are, but this was an unfortunate belief system that was just a few people’s ideas of what the relationship should be between the parent and the baby at night. But this belief system is completely in odds of what the biology of the infant is all about, and the biology of the mother is all about.

Here are the most popular arguments against bed sharing:

1 .It’s not safe

2. You will spoil them

3. Kids, who bed share with their parents, grow up too dependent.

4. They’ll never want to go to their own bed

5. It will affect unfavorably your intimate life with your husband

6. It’s uncomfortable

I will address every one of them:

  1. It is safe to bed share with your baby unless the mother is drunk, or on heavy medications, which will affect sleeping patterns, and make a person sleep heavier. Other than that it is safe.
Co-Sleeping

Co-Sleeping (Photo credit: Sugar and Vice)

Can you imagine that a pregnant woman would lay on her stomach while asleep, if she’s in sound mind and memory? Of course, not! We can say that a woman, who gave birth, already has an experience of bed sharing with her child. The only difference now – the baby is outside, not inside. Research was done on infant’s deaths from bed sharing, and it showed that all of them had a common feature – they were bottle-fed, not breast-fed. Breastfeeding mother lays her baby upper, close to her breast, so it’s impossible to roll over. Second point – is that breastfeeding mother is more attuned to her baby, and her sensitivity levels are higher, especially when asleep. From my own experience, I can share that even when I was deeply asleep, I’d grab my husband’s shoulder every time he rolled at night! It was so quick and automatic; I would wake up immediately, if my daughter sighed at night.

2.“You will spoil them”. I knew a mother who decided to put her baby in a separate crib in a separate room at three months old. She figured it was time to start incorporating discipline. The baby was screaming and weeping every night, but as she put it she “toughed it out” and he got used to it. She toughed it out… what about the baby, who was left alone screaming his lungs out? Usually this kind of ideas comes to individuals who are hurting, and have wounds from the past. This girl had a history of horrible family relationships, and subconsciously we always want to match our previous experiences with our present reality. You can’t get mad at those people either – the same was done to them, and they don’t know any better.

It is important to understand that at this age baby’s wants are their needs, and they are not trying to manipulate. His crying reflects his state. We all know what it means when the baby is crying, yet we don’t pick them up, because we listen to the “experts” with their parade of theories on how to treat an infant. Instead we should listen to our instincts, which know precisely how to nurture a baby. Every man, woman, boy and girl knows how to take care of the baby. But our instincts are shut down by the Intellect that reasons everything, and attempts to approach and analyze child care with logic.

Babies have certain inborn expectations that match their evolutionary experience and biology. When the expected does not happen they signal us by crying. Every baby cries when we put them down, this way they let us know  NOT to put them down. All babies do that, could they possibly be all wrong? No! This is a call of nature, pure and ultimate.

The baby knows what it supposed to get, his skin is crying out for nurturing touch of an adult, caregiver, he wants to be next to a live body, not in a lifeless box, wrapped in a lifeless cloth! When baby’s crying goes unanswered he develops a sense of wrongness, and the whole world becomes horribly wrong. It leads to multiple disorders later in life and turns on compensatory mechanisms that I can talk about for hours, but mainly, this kind of mistreatment causes the loss of natural ability to be happy.

When natural state of happiness is lost, it becomes a goal. Look how many books are written on subjects like – how to be happy, find happiness, etc! We are so used to our own misery, that we consider ourselves lucky if we are not homeless or in pain. And what was once man’s confident expectation on how he’s supposed to be treated, is now shut off, he’s told what he is supposed to have and want. But there is in him a sense of loss, a feeling of being off center, an intuitive longing for something he cannot name. Asked point blank he will seldom deny it. If I can contribute to my child’s happiness by simply responding to his genuine needs, I will take my chances!

3. Forming child’s independence. A child can become independent only after passing a stage of complete dependency from caregiver. Co-sleeping, and bed sharing as a form of co-sleeping, satisfies one of the basic needs of the child – is being close to his mother, being in constant physical contact. Besides hormonal and biological benefits of co-sleeping that ensures efficient development of all baby’s systems and reduces the chances of SIDS, it offers emotional and bonding benefits. Giving this secure base for the child will help him to feel secure within himself. Children who co-slept with their parents are more affectionate; easier self-disclose themselves to others, more trusting and capable of building long-lasting and harmonious relationships with others.  Another moment – by leaving a baby to sleep alone, we handle to him a responsibility for his own safety, which he’s not ready to take just yet. They are ready to take responsibility at around three or four years of age.

4. Children who successfully passed the stage of dependency will easily go to their own bed when the time comes. It doesn’t happen overnight, and takes certain steps that you can find here. At first the child goes to his own bed during day naps, and slowly transitions to sleep there at night. There are common sense rules that make this process easy and natural for both – mother and child. For example, mother and father need to take up the most of the bed, not giving priority to a child, this way it gets crowded and not very interesting for him, and eventually he leaves.

5. It won’t really affect your love life, considering the fact that there are plenty of different places, besides the bed. That’s all I have to say about that 😉

6. In fact it is extremely comfortable not to have to get up at night to nurse your baby. Sleeping through the night is not recommended for tiny breastfeeding babies. Dr. Sears explains that whether this is desirable or undesirable depends on parent’s mindset, but the facts state that breastfed babies wake more frequently for good reasons. Breastmilk is digested faster than formula, so breastfed babies get hungry sooner. Also, one of the main milk producing hormones – prolactin – is highest at night hours (usually between 1 and 7 a.m.). Could it be that a mother’s body is designed for night feedings? The focus in the first months of breastfeeding, should not be on getting the baby to sleep through the night, but rather learning to cope with his normal nighttime infant behavior. Besides, night feedings satisfy your baby’s emotional need.

Conclusion: Every family is different, and should find a sleeping arrangement that works for them. At the same time, it is important to remember that infants biology and expectations as well as mother’s biology and expectations should work together to reach optimal health, development and overall well-being.

Bed sharing can be really comfortable if you know how to breastfeed when lying down. I was very uncomfortable at first, and lactation specialist showed me the right position. Since then, night nursings are my favorite! Bed sharing is one form of co-sleeping, some people sidecar a crib next to their bed, so the baby is within arms reach. I hope you find the one that works for you. Happy Motherhood! Always yours, Valeriya Isernia

Co-sleeping – it’s safe and even useful!

When organizing bed sharing with your baby, you must be wondering – if it’s safe, and when will it end?

Safety wise there must be one condition met: the woman must be in sound mind and memory.

If certain areas of the brain are shut off, especially the ones that control sleeping, it is not safe to bedshare.

So as a result of alcohol, drugs usage or other conscious altering psychotropic drugs, a woman can accidently lay over the child, which is dangerous and she should not put the baby in the same bed.  All other cases are safe.

Can you imagine that a pregnant woman would lie on her stomach while asleep being In the right mind and memory? … No! Such cases are not known.

You can say that a woman who gave birth already has an experience of co-sleeping with her baby, right?

Only difference now is that the child is outside, not inside. And he continues, as before, to sleep next to his mother!

Now – when will it end?)))

The child goes into a separate bed at 2.5-3.5 years if:

  1. He was sleeping with his mother from birth
  2. There was no forced weaning or putting him in a crib initiated by both child or the mother
  3. Mom promptly established absences from the child, including absences at night.
  4. On the 3rd year the child has his bed for a day nap and he can go there at night, when he wants.
  5. The bed has always belonged to the mother, and the child wasn’t put to sleep there without her by saying: “This is mummy’s bed”
  6. The child was not imposed to separate sleeping before 3 years old.
  7. Father and mother of the child sleep in the same bed with the mother sleeping in the middle.
  8. Mom and Dad take up most of the bed, not giving priority to the child. It becomes crowded, not very interesting for him and he goes away.

The second and third children of the same woman go into a separate bed at an earlier age than the first one.

Just remember to treat your child appropriately to his age, and remember that it is necessary to sleep next to your husband, after all it’s all about balance! The baby’s there temporary=))

Professional view on Babywearing

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Indeed, babywearing – is an art of holding, but like any good cause, it must be approached intelligently.

Wearing a newborn

Every child is born with a “habit” to be in direct physical contact with the mother around the clock. His vulnerability is a cause for constant, almost continuous stay close to his mother. I emphasize the word – “stay.” A kid can be with mother in direct contact, if she rests, eats, moves around the house. In this case, he may be staying in her arms, lying close to his mother, or on her lap, feeling the warmth of her arms. Newborn needs this contact, but this is not the only need he has.

Everyone knows that most of the day the newborn sleeps. However, he often wakes up, about every hour. He stays awake for short periods of time, and cycle of active holding is replaced by a cycle when mom puts him down for short periods of time.

When sleeping, the child should be lying on his side, his head just above the level of the chest. This position is the safest for him, and is provided by deftly wearing him in hands and by the skill of co-sleeping in the position “in hand”. Naps in the vertical position are not physiological for the child, and will lead to a breach of the spine and cause overall anxiety. Mom should lay the baby down in his sleep for a short period of time, about 20-40 minutes. This will facilitate the process of separating the baby from the mother, which must take place, starting at birth and as they grow older. Part of this process should be performed by giving a child an experience of independent sleep during the day. Of course, it is important not to go overboard by laying him down too much, not to force the issue.

Time being awake increases at 1.5 months to 1 hour, and during this hour the baby may be put down several times. This can be for 2-10 minutes – to wrap him in a new blanket, to care for the navel, the skin, as well as to let the child explore his body, and motor activity. In addition to “cradle” position, starting at about three weeks, we use the vertical position on the shoulder. Active holding – carrying a child with frequent changes of positions and short cycle of putting him down – provides, first of all, the development of motor skills. Additionally, elimination communication process will help him to establish control over the sphincters, and health of the genitourinary system.

Now consider this in terms of Babywearing

First, let’s ask the question: in what time period, we will wear a sling (or wrap), and most importantly – why? To wear him for ten minutes before the next cycle of letting him down or before the next time he will need to pee? Most of the time, putting the baby in the sling while he’s awake is pointless. These 10 minutes mom can carry a baby in her arms in a “cradle” position without any harm. After all, he is not heavy yet. And if your hand is tired, you can switch it to another hand, or sit down to rest.

If you mean that you put the baby in a sling while he’s asleep, sleep vertically, as we understand, is not desirable. And if we put him to sleep in the sling in “cradle” position, you ask? Then the important phase of laying him down for short periods of time will not be passed! A habit of sleeping only in mother’s hands will show very soon, when the attempts to lay him down later will fail, and the child will keep waking up and show reluctance to sleep alone.

But that’s not all. Mother masters carrying the child in her arms, and her hands need to “get used” to the child. Mom hones this skill, not using “substitutes hands”, or “crutch”, in other words. A baby should get used to the maternal embrace and mother’s hands, so then he can safely and without any resistance get down. Active holding in this period is used as an effective method of upbringing.

If the mother in the neonatal period will use a sling, it will lose an important upbringing tool! In fact, mother’s hands are here to stimulate child’s growth – bone and muscle tissue, musculoskeletal system, nervous system – all it needs is an active stimulation. Keyword – active. Sling will hinder activity. Put the baby in a sling, and that’s it …  I will add that extended wear in a sling requires prolonged use of disposable diapers, and it is harmful for the baby.

We only consider babywearing after 1.5 months old.

Between 1.5 and 3 months

Child is awake for longer periods of time, and is more interested in exploring. We still don’t use wearing “on the hip” position, we use mainly “cradle” and “vertical” positions. The child becomes heavy, and putting him in a sling sounds very enticing … on the other hand, the growing weight of the child makes you want to lay him down. This is where it’s not an easy period to wear. Relief comes at 3 months, when it becomes possible to hold him “on your hip,” and release one hand. But before this happens, you need to carry him in your hands, and train his neck and back muscles. It will be useful for the ‘Hip” position in the future.

During this period, we start taking walks, if weather permits. Here using a sling can be very “handy”, but the baby should be in a cradle position, because he will most likely fall asleep with the breast in his mouth. Here, incidentally, it is also not good to sleep in a vertical. Should you ask when it is useful? Never!  You can go to different specialists and do a research on this matter, but the truth is – there is only one norm – one. Only pathology is diverse.

Therefore, those slings where sleep is only possible in a vertical position aren’t good.

From 3 to 6 months

We can start using a position “on the hip.” But learning this position should be temporarily practiced without a sling. Child should learn to embrace his legs around mother. This helps to prepare the feet to crawl and then to walk. It may also resolve the problems with the tonus in the legs that babies often have. If to put the baby in a sling right away in the “ hip” position, without him learning to cling to you, baby feet will just hang down (make your own conclusions about that!!!). But, nevertheless, it is the best sling period! Because taking walks with the heavy child in the sling are very reasonable. It is important to use a sling only when you need to walk a long way, which takes a long time, with no opportunity to sit down and relax, or to use at home in situations where falling asleep  in a sling will be followed by laying him down as soon as the baby fell asleep. I guess this would work well for the urban mom.

Again, wear your baby to sleep in a cradle position.  There may be exceptional cases where the child fell asleep in a «sitting” position, when no one noticed that he fell asleep. But this is the exception rather than the rule. Therefore, we need a sling where you can shift from “sitting” position to cradle, without waking him up. Why not wear at home – because it is necessary to lay the baby down often. What’s important here is the frequency and timing. And remember about practicing Elimination Communication. You can of course, exercise Elimination Communication in a ring sling, by just pushing the edge of the sling. But this will not always work even with a very attentive mother. Then there is the risk of being peed or pooped on, and it is very unpleasant and even humiliating for a mother.

Cycles of putting the baby down can be evaluated by: 1) the degree of fatigue or how tired is the mother 2) the type of activity at the moment 3) desire of the child to pee. In this case, the mother holds the baby in the sight, focusing on him and his needs, while maintaining the principle of symbiosis, i.e. mutual comfort.

About each cycle in detail:

Degree of fatigue. Sling may be really convenient because it facilitates carrying heavy baby. It can be worn for 1-2 hours without taking off, according to the active sling-mamas. But think about it: how many times during this hour or two you could put your baby down, because you have tired arms and back? Frequent use of the sling in the home leads to addiction in baby to “life on a mother,” which is characterized by a sedentary first. Passivity and limited movement never contributed to a better development of the children, this fact is obvious.

House activity. Of course, a lot of household chores you can do with a baby, and some of them may be done while using a sling. Say, water the plants, to ennoble their appearance while holding the baby in a sling. Obviously, his close presence should meet two criteria: safety and convenience. In particular, we are talking about safety, if watering, say, cactus. By convenience here is meant mother’s convenience, because she’s the one who does useful work, and the baby only accompanies her, and should not interfere. This is where upbringing kicks in. But, if there is boiling soup on the stove, it is safer to put the baby aside. And mopping the floors with a baby, too, would be superfluous. You should be able to distribute the household chores so as to match them with the child’s need to explore and stay close to his mother. Rest is better to plan for the time when the child is asleep. You can also lie down, relax, or read, or sit down at the computer. With this approach the mother is always rested, and dinner is always on time, and the hair is styled, and husband’s shirts are ironed.

Desire of the child to pee. Important note – is to understand that after three months, a child stops giving a mother signals about his needs, and starts to pee on his own=). Knowing his rhythms he should be put down before it happens in mother’s arms. After he’s done with his business, the child returns to mother’s hands. It should be noted, that a child should only be picked up in a quiet state, calm. If he demands or cries in order to get on your hands, it shows serious mistakes in upbringing, and indicates the beginning of manipulation.

From 6 months until walking

At this stage, there is so much new stimulus for development that he finds on his play mat, so that he can explore and learn to crawl. There is such a big world around him, so much unknown and undiscovered! For us it is just a pan – a dish to cook lunch, but for a child it is something fascinating that attracts him with its form, sound, and new ways to play.  Mother goes to a background. He starts solid foods and continues exploring home space. At home sling is used very scarcely; mainly it is used to go for a walk. You can organize long, educational walks, and come back home for a day nap to put the child down.

If the child started walking, outside the house would be a great training, too! Training muscles and sprint walking with the toddler sleeping in a sling will bring mom by more frustration than pleasure. Here it will be useful to get help from dad or grandma to accompany the mother and the baby, who is still walking a little uncertainly. Sling is slowly losing its value in the life of the mother with a baby, it can assist the mother in the long-term walking, and only.

I think that many people simply forget about the fact that the baby is growing and needs a variety of incentives for development, and experience. Children cannot grow only by following their own instincts. Proper active holding and laying him aside on frequent basis are key incentives for successful separation from the mother and the formation of the child’s independence. In-arms phase should end with the beginning of walking! And there are other incentives, and other tools. Undoubtedly, the sling is very convenient and necessary for each mother. Its very convenience can be a trap! As sometimes I want to put my daughter in a sling and go do stuff! But she is in her second year and is capable to walk by herself!

The Importance of the “In-Arms Phase”

In the two and a half years during which I lived among Stone Age Indians in the South American jungle (not all at once, but on five separate expeditions with a lot of time between them for reflection), I came to see that our human nature is not what we have been brought up to believe it is. Babies of the Yequana tribe, far from needing peace and quiet to go to sleep, snoozed blissfully whenever they were tired, while the men, women, or children carrying them danced, ran, walked, shouted, or paddled canoes. Toddlers played together without fighting or arguing, and they obeyed their elders instantly and willingly.

The notion of punishing a child had apparently never occurred to these people, nor did their behavior show anything that could truly be called permissiveness. No child would have dreamed of inconveniencing, interrupting, or being waited on by an adult. And by the age of four, children were contributing more to the work force in their family than they were costing others.

Babes in arms almost never cried and, fascinatingly, did not wave their arms, kick, arch their backs, or flex their hands and feet. They sat quietly in their slings or slept on someone’s hip — exploding the myth that babies need to flex to “exercise.” They also did not throw up unless extremely ill and did not suffer from colic. When startled during the first months of crawling and walking, they did not expect anyone to go to them but rather went on their own to their mother or other caretakers for the measure of reassurance needed before resuming their explorations. Without supervision, even the smallest tots rarely hurt themselves.

Is their “human nature” different from ours? Some people actually imagine that it is, but there is, of course, only one human species. What can we learn from the Yequana tribe?

Our Innate Expectations

Primarily, we can try to grasp fully the formative power of what I call the in-arms phase. It begins at birth and ends with the commencement of creeping, when the infant can depart and return at will to the caretaker’s knee. It consists, simply, of the infant having 24-hour contact with an adult or older child.

At first, I merely observed that this in-arms experience had an impressively salutary effect on the babies and that they were no “trouble” to manage. Their bodies were soft and conformed to any position convenient to their bearers — some of whom even dangled their babies down their backs while holding them by the wrist. I do not mean to recommend this position, but the fact that it is possible demonstrates the scope of what constitutes comfort for a baby. In contrast to this is the desperate discomfort of infants laid carefully in a crib or carriage, tenderly tucked in, and left to go rigid with the desire for the living body that is by nature their rightful place — a body belonging to someone who will “believe” their cries and relieve their craving with welcoming arms.

Why the incompetence in our society? From childhood on, we are taught not to believe in our instinctive knowledge. We are told that parents and teachers know best and that when our feelings do not concur with their ideas, we must be wrong. Conditioned to mistrust or utterly disbelieve our feelings, we are easily convinced not to believe the baby whose cries say “You should hold me!” “I should be next to your body!” “Don’t leave me!” Instead, we overrule our natural response and follow the going fashion dictated by babycare “experts.” The loss of faith in our innate expertise leaves us turning from one book to another as each successive fad fails.

It is important to understand who the real experts are. The second greatest babycare expert is within us, just as surely as it resides in every surviving species that, by definition, must know how to care for its young. The greatest expert of all is, of course, the baby — programmed by millions of years of evolution to signal his or her own kind by sound and action when care is incorrect. Evolution is a refining process that has honed our innate behavior with magnificent precision. The signal from the baby, the understanding of the signal by his or her people, the impulse to obey it — all are part of our species’ character.

The presumptuous intellect has shown itself to be ill-equipped to guess at the authentic requirements of human babies. The question is often: Should I pick up the baby when he or she cries? Or should I first let the baby cry for a while? Or should I let the baby cry so that this child know who is boss and will not become a “tyrant”?

No baby would agree to any of these impositions. Unanimously, they let us know by the clearest signals that they should not be put down at all. As this option has not been widely advocated in contemporary Western civilization, the relationship between parent and child has remained steadfastly adversarial. The game has been about how to get the baby to sleep in the crib, whether or not to oppose the baby’s cries has not been considered. Although Tine Thevenin’s book, The Family Bed, and others have gone some way to open the subject up of having children sleep with parents, the important principle has not been clearly addressed: to act against our nature as a species is inevitably to lose well-being.

Once we have grasped and accepted the principle of respecting our innate expectations, we will be able to discover precisely what those expectations are — in other words, what evolution has accustomed us to experience.

The Formative Role of the In-Arms Phase

How did I come to see the in-arms phase as crucial to a person’s development? First, I saw the relaxed and happy people in the forests of South America lugging around their babies and never putting them down. Little by little, I was able to see a connection between that simple fact and the quality of their lives. Later still, I have come to certain conclusions about how and why being in constant contact with the active caretaker is essential to the initial postnatal stage of development.

For one thing, it appears that the person carrying the baby (usually the mother in the first months, then often a four- to 12-year-old child who brings the baby back to the mother for feeding) is laying the foundation for later experience. The baby passively participates in the bearers running, walking, laughing, talking, working, and playing. The particular activities, the pace, the inflections of the language, the variety of sights, night and day, the range of temperatures, wetness and dryness, and the sounds of community life form a basis for the active participation that will begin at six or eight months of age with creeping, crawling, and then walking. A baby who has spent this time lying in a quiet crib or looking at the inside of a carriage, or at the sky, will have missed most of this essential experience.

Because of the child’s need to participate, it is also important that caretakers not just sit and gaze at the baby or continually ask what the baby wants, but lead active lives themselves. Occasionally one cannot resist giving a baby a flurry of kisses; however, a baby who is programmed to watch you living your busy life is confused and frustrated when you spend your time watching him living his. A baby who is in the business of absorbing what life is like as lived by you is thrown into confusion if you ask him to direct it.

The second essential function of the in-arms experience appears to have escaped the notice of everyone (including me, until the mid-1960s). It is to provide babies with a means of discharging their excess energy until they are able to do so themselves. In the months before being able to get around under their own power, babies accumulate energy from the absorption of food and sunshine. A baby therefore needs constant contact with the energy field of an active person, who can discharge the unused excess for each of them. This explains why the Yequana babies were so strangely relaxed — why they did not stiffen, kick, arch, or flex to relieve themselves of an uncomfortable accumulation of energy.

To provide the optimum in-arms experience, we have to discharge our own energy efficiently. One can very quickly calm a fussing baby by running or jumping with the child, or by dancing or doing whatever eliminates one’s own energy excess. A mother or father who must suddenly go out to get something need not say, “Here, you hold the baby. I’m going to run down to the shop.” The one doing the running can take the baby along for the ride. The more action, the better!

Babies — and adults — experience tension when the circulation of energy in their muscles is impeded. A baby seething with undischarged energy is asking for action: a leaping gallop around the living room or a swing from the child’s hands or feet. The baby’s energy field will immediately take advantage of an adult’s discharging one. Babies are not the fragile things we have been handling with kid gloves. In fact, a baby treated as fragile at this formative stage can be persuaded that he or she is fragile.

As parents, you can readily attain the mastery that comes with comprehension of energy flow. In the process you will discover many ways to help your baby retain the soft muscle tone of ancestral well-being and give your baby some of the calm and comfort an infant needs to feel at home in the world.

 

Why it is important to watch your baby’s bio rythms

Did you know that your body is living according to biological rhythms? There is a rhythm in the work of the stomach, the kidneys, and the nervous system. There are periods of recession and the peak of activity. This is the basis of your health. These rhythms are innate, and they are connected to the Sun and the Moon, more precisely – to solar and lunar rhythms. But we’re not talking about you, we are going to talk about children.

The infant rhythms are particularly important, as it is the following of biorhythms that keeps his health. Biologists know that the failures in the rhythms of life among rats, for example, lead to disease … Again, experimenting on rats …

The difficulty lies in the fact that the kid himself is unable to regulate them. His nervous system is still very imperfect. He quickly gets overexcited and inhibitory/slowing down processes cannot run independently. Child needs help from mom who will remind him that it’s time to sleep or to nurse. It is important and necessary for a mother to keep track of sleeping rhythm, waking, etc., so she can spot an issue in timely manner.

Among neuroscientists this feature of immature nervous system is well known – the excitement in children of 3-5 years of age dominates the process of slowing down.  In this case develops slowing down function lies on mom. That’s why mother’s there to begin with – to guide, help and support.

Here is a brief scheme of daily rhythms of infants up to 3 years:

Newborn – naps for 20-120 minutes, awake periods vary from 10 to 60 minutes.

At 3 months – expressed long (over an hour) and short (less than one hour) naps.  Time being awake varies from 40 to 120 minutes.

At 6 months – 4 naps, of which 2 long and 2 short.

At 9 months – 3 naps: two long and one short.

At Year 1 – 2 naps, 1 long (90-150 minutes) and one short (40-60 minutes).

At 1.2-1.6 – 1 nap 90-150 minutes.

Daytime sleep is typical for children of 3-5 years if the child in the daycare.