Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Maternal Bond

As I sit here and watch our family cat with her three kittens that were born three weeks ago, I realize just how backwards and cruel that we humans have it. She lies there attending to her babies unfailingly. She doesn't wait for them to meow incessantly before lying down to nurse them, doesn't ignore them. She doesn't leave them in their area to sleep by themselves, while she sleeps in a different room. She cleans and inspects them constantly.

As they were born in our living room, as all of us watched quietly, I realized that we give animals more respect while birthing (on average) than we give human women. How would she have reacted if she had had someone shoving a hand inside of her vagina to see how much progress she had made? Or if I had began to shout at her to PUUUSSSHHH!!!?? What if she had people in the room, rudely talking about how much longer it would be, or how excited they are, or about how long they had until an appointment? How would she have reacted if people were talking, period?

I made sure to stress the importance of no one touching the babies, or disturbing them during this vital period of bonding between mom and baby. After all, we know that with animals, if you touch babies immediately or handle them too much, bonding will be changed. Mom may not care for her babies as much as she would if this period was truly undisturbed.

Why has it become accepted in our culture to do all of these things to human women? Why is it okay to disrupt the bonding time between mom and baby? And then why do we wonder why there is a disconnect? I am *heartbroken* when I hear that parents put their babies in not only a separate bed, but a separate BEDROOM. This is cruel. You are taking a brand new baby who is still 10000% dependent on mom and who has spent 10 months hearing mom's heart beat, hearing her breathing rhythm, her voice ... and then removing him from everything familiar. I'll risk sounding judgmental and say it again - this is *cruel*. No other mammal does this with their young. In fact, no other mammal would refuse to nurse their baby because it's inconvenient or feels gross. The way human babies are treated is atrocious. And what's worse is - it's ACCEPTED. It's all about CHOICE, right? Sadly, baby doesn't get a choice in whether or not he's fed artificial food that isn't good for him. Baby doesn't get a choice about whether or not he's abandoned in another room.

So really? Who are these atrocious accepted practices benefiting? The only people who are benefiting are the ones who are supposed to be selflessly loving their baby.

Women would do an amazing thing for their babies by observing how beautifully protective and caring most mammals (on average) are with THEIR young. If this could shift, so many more babies would be better cared for, and the bond would be stronger.


jessicaanne010 said...

What a beautiful momma with her babies. :-) I love the look of serenity on a momma cat's face.

You are so right. Do you think all of this has anything to do with why animals don't have latch problems?? :-/

My hubby was flipping channels last night and landed on Animal Planet. Only stayed for about 5 minutes before we realized that we were watched a c-section on a cow before it was quickly changed. I have no idea what the reasoning was, but I didn't really want to know either. :-(

*hugs* I'm with you on this one, sister!

Anonymous said...

Insightful post. I totally agree. I have to add though that regretfully my first born girl was put in her own room on returning from hospital. I was a new mother, away from family and totally insecure. I read some bad books and trusted bad advice. I regret it now with sadness for my only daughter.
Each child came with new experiences and my fourth was born unassisted (not exactly planned that way but I liked it) at home (that bit was planned) and spent his early days in bed with me. Much happier mummy & baby.