A friend’s sister had a baby recently. The new mom is nursing, baby seems happy, things are going fine, thank the angels! And if the doctors and professionals would stop measuring and weighing and having suggestions, things would be perfect! What has happened to us in America? We have removed ourselves from just about everything that is simple and whole, including common wisdom.
Until the last century, all babies were nursed on breast milk. Mom and baby did fine. Together, because of the shared wisdom of other women, both mom and baby were able to navigate through the personally uncharted waters of bringing a child into the world. A village of experienced knowing was almost always available and freely given as women would share the common experience of becoming a mother. That knowledge was not given in the demeaning way of “I know and you don’t,” but instead in the way of “yeh, that happens some times. Try this.,” or “Such and such usually means ….” Then the new mother would not only have a suggestion of action (for peace of mind or sleep or for the baby’s ease), but an understanding from the collective experience of other mothers related to her particular situation.
Wisdom includes the intuitive whisperings of the heart-mind. Noticing the usually not noticed is something that mom’s have to do. Crying is only one way that babies communicate; and with a happy, healthy child it’s the least mechanism used. Babies use all the signals possible to communicate their state of mind, feelings, mood, concern, and brilliance. Their alertness, smile, their sensitivity to noise or to sensing of the vibration of another person’s emotion or thought all are their forms of perception. A baby’s puzzled look or looking away are all forms of babies’ “speech”.
Babies are born relatively telepathic too, absorbing the world around them, and the circumstance of being a new mom tries to bring that dormant quality forward in the new mother. That means that mom (and dad) have the opportunity to put aside what she thinks might be going on with baby and instead feel what baby is feeling. Mom can get small for a moment, put herself in the baby’s place and from there make loving decisions that constantly show the baby support and kindness. Until modern times, the role of mother was the archetype of kindness, patience, and care. The stresses of our modern world, forced living against normal diurnal rhythms and biological clocks, and the constant nannering of TV, radio, email, and cell-phones all have changed our relation to one another. These things have certainly changed a new mother’s relation to her child. Romanticism aside, quietude was part of a baby’s day and thus part of a mother’s. Baby’s were strapped to their mother through most of the day as she worked daily chores, and that closeness served multiple purposes:
- the comfort of being held which all baby’s need and need a lot
- increased blood flow to the brain and to the centers of balance within the baby. The constant change of the mother’s position as she is going about her chores had the effect of rocking and tipping the baby. Modern science now knows, mostly from space station astronauts, that changes such as this are vital to blood flow to the brain and that changes in balance make all sympathetic nervous systems more refined.
- protection. Baby’s are so vulnerable, and they feel that. Just as mother was their only protection in the womb, mother is sought in a primal way to be that protection once the baby is born. Yet conventional man-devised, scheduled, largely hands-off mothering does not create the feeling of security in baby. In the end, that form of child rearing has created the last number of generations of adults who generally are unfulfilled thus consume food, entertainment, and things in a grasp for satiety and security. They, we, did not receive it as infants because of Dr. Spock or whatever other source of “let the baby cry,” “make the baby sleep through the night,” “put the baby down” type of advice. Our modern world mentality of “I need” is a direct reaction to not receiving primal needs as a new born and young infant. “I need to know I am loved and safe.”
It used to take a village to raise a child, and it still does in parts of the world. That village was a community of wisdom, kindness, and shared care. If modern doctors would look first at the baby’s eyes, smile, and listen to them instead of looking at scales, and measures, telling us this or that percentile, then our babies would have a chance to grow up to be different from us. Most of us in modern America did not get what baby’s through human history have received – the simple, telepathic, kind relation of mother and child.