A Voice For The Community

"I am blessed. I had a wonderful and encouraging support system in my husband, family, and a few nurses who sensed my determination and frustration. I had opportunities to attend support programs and join groups of supportive women who understand. I have formed friendships and am surrounded by great people who share their knowledge. And I have learned. I have learned that every woman not only has a right to choose what is best for her and her child but to make an informed decision and receive support" Jillian, nursing mama to Jack Angelo

This is place to share the stories that come along with being a nursing mama. Wether you breast-fed your baby for 1 day or 3 years, we're not here to judge, simply to listen. Listen to what happened when you tried your best for 3 whole weeks only to be defeated. Listen to how being a mommy changed the way you looked at the world. And all the other stories, insights and moments that fall in between the complex and the truthful lessons you learned from your baby.

Read. Enjoy. Share. This is the voice of the nursing community.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Attachment Parenting At It's Best

When I was pregnant, the last thing I expected to advocate was Attachment Parenting!  Just the sound of it made me envision the Super Nanny and all the spoiled brats she needs to reconcile.  I admit, looking back,  I was a little detached during pregnancy.  It wasn't hard to be-I had never been pregnant before, my body was changing and I couldn't see the adorable little man inside of me!  I read countless books on breast feeding trying to gain a sense of understanding on how it was done ( I really hated the idea of formula!!)  There were always sections about nursing past infancy.  Overall, it seemed all my sources stated the same reasons for such a "decision". It was a great way to bond, moms didn't see a reason to give it up, it was easy to calm a toddler-all reasons I didn't feel justified needing to closely monitor your diet (i.e, cut back on caffeine and  give up sushi) for longer than 12 months!

Fast forward 9 months and I found myself ordering the book "The Fussy Baby", by Dr Sears.  Dr. Sears coined the term Attachment Parenting.  He explained all the reason to be an "attached" parent throughout a book that would soon be my bible for the first 3 months of Teddy's life.  He explained that following baby's cues and needs right away taught them to trust and in turn created confident little, loving individuals.  Even with my little 8lb bundle of joy in my arms, I still kind of cringed at the thought of raising an attached baby, but Teddy was 'high need', he needed to nurse all the time and hated being put down and going to sleep and if Dr Sears was promising a confident loving baby by attaching myself to this little man until he was ready for the world-that's what I was going to do!

It wasn't easy.  Well actually it was very easy! I loved this little baby so much and I loved needing to be near him and calming him and mostly being released from the guilt I once felt for giving my newborn baby just what he wanted and needed.  The hardest part was the family and friends who didn't understand.  I didn't blame them, not too long ago I felt just as they did and if I had been given an "easy" baby, I would have never opened up to this approach either.

Dr Sears promised a compassionate, secure, self confident little person by attachment parenting and after reading a few of his books, his information made a lot of sense and I trusted him!  Teddy is 9 1/2 months old and I know we have a long way to go, but here are just a few observations over the past month or so...

At nine months-Teddy is crawling everywhere and pulling up on everything!  He is eager to learn new things, fearless and confident in his abilities.  Teddy is so happy!  He loves making people laugh and laughing at people:), singing and dancing!  Teddy is loving and caring to those he knows best-hugs and kisses galore!  While we are still slightly uneasy with new people and with extensive people holding him and we co-sleep the majority of the night and nurse every 1 1/2 or so, I think the qualities above are proof that we are on the right track and that attachment parenting is JUST what Teddy and I needed!

After being completely attached to this little man (including but not limited to breast feeding, co-sleeping and baby wearing) for 9 months now, I am saddened by the misunderstanding that babies are thought to manipulate and train their parents, and that babies shouldn't get too much attention or be held too long.

Is AP right for you and your baby?  Here are some statistics from an article I recently read:
According to Attachment Theory, many babies are born without the ability to self-regulate emotions — that is, they find the world to be confusing and disorganized, and do not have the coping abilities required to soothe themselves. Thus, during times of distress, they seek out their caregivers because the physical closeness of the caregiver helps to soothe the infant and to re-establish equilibrium. When the caregiver is consistently responsive and sensitive, the child gradually learns and believes that she is worthy of love and that other people can be trusted to provide it. She learns that the caregiver is a secure base from which she can explore the world, and if she encounters adversity, she can return to her base for support and comfort. This trust in the caregiver results in what is known as a secure individual.
Children who do not have consistently responsive and sensitive caregivers often develop into insecure individuals, characterized by anxious, avoidant, and/or ambivalent interactions. Long-term studies have shown that secure individuals, compared to insecure individuals, are more likely to be outgoing, popular, well-adjusted, compassionate, and altruistic. As adults, secure individuals tend to be comfortable depending on others, readily develop close attachments, and trust their partners. Insecure individuals, on the other hand, tend to be unsettled in their relationships, displaying anxiety (manifesting as possessiveness, jealousy, and clinginess) or avoidance (manifesting as mistrust and a reluctance to depend on others). North American parenting practices, including CIO, are often influenced by fears that children will grow up too dependent. However, an abundance of research shows that regular physical contact, reassurance, and prompt responses to distress in infancy and childhood results in secure and confident adults who are better able to form functional relationships.
The Dangers of CIO
It has been suggested in the past that CIO is healthy for infants’ physical development, particularly the lungs. A recent study looking at the immediate and long-term physiologic consequences of infant crying suggests otherwise. The following changes due to infant crying have been documented:
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Reduced oxygen level
  • Elevated cerebral blood pressure
  • Depleted energy reserves and oxygen
  • Interrupted mother-infant interaction
  • Brain injury
  • Cardiac dysfunction.
The study’s researchers suggested that caregivers should answer infant cries swiftly, consistently, and comprehensively — recommendations that are in line with AP principles.
CIO or AP as a Matter of Perception
CIO supporters tend to view their infants’ cries as attempts to manipulate caregivers into providing more attention. Holding this view can be detrimental to the immediate and long-term health of the baby. In the field of cognitive psychology, there exists the premise that our thoughts underlie our behavior. Thus, if we think positively about an individual, our behaviors toward them tend to be positive as well. Conversely, if we think negatively about an individual, we will behave correspondingly. Consider people in your own life whom you consider manipulative — how does that perception influence your behavior toward them? It is unlikely that the interpretation of a manipulative personality will result in the compassionate, empathetic, and loving care of that individual. Infants, quite helpless without the aid of their caregivers, may suffer both emotional and physical consequences of this type of attitude.
When faced with a crying baby, it may be prudent to ask yourself the following questions: Why am I choosing this response? Do I want my baby to stop crying because he feels comforted and safe, or do I want my baby to stop crying for the sake of stopping crying? What is my baby learning about me and the world when I respond in this manner? If I was a baby and was upset, how would I want my caregivers to respond?

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