Postpartum Oppression

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We’ve all heard of postpartum depression, a form of clinical depression that occurs after childbirth. It is a serious medical issue and is probably precipitated by the wide fluctations in hormones after childbirth, compounded by lack of sleep and other features of mothering a newborn. Postpartum depression is a medical condition that requires medical attention.

There’s another phenomenon, far more widespread, causing misery to many more women. I suggest we call it postpartum oppression. Its cardinal symptom is a suffocating sense of inadequacy provoked by the guilt and shame of failing to meet the arbitrary guidelines of the dominant mothering ideologies, natural childbirth and attachment parenting.

Consider this recent piece featured on news.com.au, Modern mums are anxious, stressed about babies: new study:

…[R]esearch shows mothers are feeling ashamed, marginalised and guilty because they can’t meet the strict messages of breast feeding and sudden infant death campaigns.

They feel even more inadequate when told to use their maternal instinct to solve mothering issues when they are confused by conflicting information.

And they are battling to live up to an idealised image of how motherhood “should” be.

Furthermore:

)Over simplified public health messages that breast is best … overstate the risk of not doing this and can make mums feel anxious.

Public health campaigns, health professionals and others could reduce this anxiety by providing realistic, understandable, numerical information to assist decision making, they say.

“Nobody doubts that the message that promotes breast feeding is a good thing, but breastfeeding might not be easy to do and for some it is extremely difficult. Women who make an informed choice not to go ahead can be made to feel guilty and ashamed,” says Dr Rowe.

Women who decide to bottle feed can be discharged from hospital without any bottles, with no instructions on mixing formula, which can make them feel unsupported and marginalised, she says.

It’s not just pressure to breastfeed that leads to postpartum oppression; pressure to have an unmedicated vaginal birth, and irresponsible speculation on the purported dangers of C-sections are major contributing factors. These triggers for postpartum oppression share several characteristics:

  • They are arbitrary measures of motherhood formulated by privileged white women and reflecting their preferences and prejudices.
  • They grossly exaggerate the benefits of breastfeeding and vaginal birth and flat out lie about the purported benefits of unmedicated childbirth.
  • The condemnation of C-sections is based on hyperbole, hysteria and bad research on the purported dangers of C-sections.
  • A cadre of childbirth paraprofessionals, midwives, doulas, childbirth educators, and lactation consultants profit from these arbitrary standards.
  • They are profoundly anti-feminist, reducing mothering to the ways that women use their breasts, vaginas and uteri, and minimizing the much greater impact of maternal love, learning and character.

In contrast to postpartum depression, which occurs spontaneously and is to be regretted, postpartum oppression is deliberately inflicted by some women (generally Western, white and relatively privileged) on other women (including women of color and women of lower socio-economic classes.) Even though it is a woman-made problem, it is responsible for considerable suffering.

The primary mode of transmission of postpartum oppression is the internet.

Dr Rowe says mother anxiety was being made worse because of the internet which encouraged worried parents to try and find more information when much of it was not evidence based.

“The solution is to try and find a trusted source of information and limit yourself to that,” says Dr Rowe.

Health professionals and those in contact with mothers needed to unpack simplified public health messages and reassure and support mothers in the choices they made, she said.

They should address the inaccurate stereotype that mothering is instinctive, which can paint a highly idealised image of how motherhood ‘should’ be.

“Mothering is a set of learned skills and you learn on the job,” Dr Rowe says.

The deliberate infliction of postpartum oppression has created a crisis of confidence among new mothers and a pervasive sense of guilt and shame. It is a perversion of existing scientific evidence; an arbitrary standard foisted by privileged women on those less privileged; it enriches childbirth paraprofessionals at the expense of their patients, and it is profoundly anti-feminist, grounding successful mothering, as it does, in women’s reproductive organs and effectively ignoring everything else about them …

and it has got to stop!

  • Allie P

    A little OT. I’m 2cm dilated. Due Sat. 2nd baby. Doc says she can induce me tomorrow no problem. Why am I nervous about this?

    • Cobalt

      Because birth is scary, regardless of the details. It’s a major transition no matter what you choose, and its very common to have an urge to delay the transition once it is imminent. Plenty of women get halfway through and think or say they’d like to go home now, baby can come another day.

      You’re OB wouldn’t offer it if it was a bad choice. Trust your team (whether you electively induce or would rather wait), that’s why you have them.

      Consider getting a last few pictures of yourself pregnant, I always regretted not having any.

  • carovee

    Mother’s just need to trust their instincts is a meme I would like to see die a thousand deaths. Sure, you need to trust your own judgement, but not at the expense of more well informed professionals.

  • DinoInTheSky

    Completely spot on analysis. Unfortunately we need to de-stigmatize medical interventions during pregnancy and birth for many populations.

    On a side note, this article did not appear in my RSS feed, which is too bad (I use Feedly).

    • I use Feedly too, and for more than a week, Skeptical OB columns haven’t been posted…if I didn’t check in daily here, I’d think Dr. Amy was on vacation.

      • Insider

        I also rely on the RSS feed and initially concluded that Dr. Amy had gone on vacation. In fact, the RSS feed hasn’t been working at all for several days:

        http://www.skepticalob.com/feed

        (“Error establishing a database connection.”)

        We’re seeing older posts only because they’d been downloaded already into our RSS readers before the database connection failed on the Web server.

        The problem is somewhat larger than just the RSS feed. The homepage on the Web site now often displays no posts following February 13, 2015. Only occasionally does the homepage favor us with Dr. Amy’s current posts. However, by following the links in the “Recent Comments” section of the right column, I find that I can view the posts on which users have commented most recently.

        It may be mere coincidence, but I first noticed these problems soon after the leap second on June 30, 2015:

        http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2015/06/tonights-leap-second-may-cause-problems-for-the-internet/

        • Kesiana

          The homepage on the Web site now often displays no posts following February 13, 2015. Only occasionally does the homepage favor us with Dr. Amy’s current posts.

          That happens to me too, and the variable is kind of a weird one: the homepage will show current posts if you go to http://www.skepticalob.com, but just visiting skepticalob.com gets you the February 2015 posts.

          • Insider

            Great observation, Kesiana! I can confirm that http://www.skepticalob.com gives me Dr. Amy’s current posts, but skepticalob.com gives me no posts later than February 13, 2015. Unfortunately, the RSS feed is dead whether or not I access the www subdomain.

  • Dr. Jo

    Yes. Yes. Yes. And there’s a whole group of mothers who deserve support and don’t receive it beause of these retrograde beliefs about the sanctity of vaginal birth and breast feeding: adoptive mothers.

    • Mel

      After legalization of same-sex marriage in the USA, I had some college acquaintances who were wringing their hands over the fact that Canada had changed the terms “natural parents” to “legal parents” at some point after they legalized same-sex marriage. (Oh, the angst.)

      I pointed out the obvious – “legal parents” includes both biological parents raising children and adopted parents raising children whose ‘natural’ parents have no rights to them any more.

      My favorite pretend nephew “E.” is in my life because he was adopted by a family friend. I’m glad everyday that E is in a family who can care for his loving heart and ADHD chaos (“Where did he get the baked potato from? How?”). Actually, I think my favorite was the time he frosted the long-haired dog….

  • Lena

    OT: Dr. Amy, have you seen this yet?

    http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/06/26/a-kindergarten-form-asks-vaginal-birth-or-c-section-why/?smid=tw-nytimes&_r=1

    Kindergartens (I’m assuming the rich white ones) are asking if children were born via c-section or vaginal birth.

    • Azuran

      What is a school going to do with this kind of information anyway?
      If a child has learning disabilities, will it really matter if he got those disability from his way of birth? Just help him out, your treatment is not going to change depending on how it happened (and you can’t even prove that it is related to his birth anyway)

      If they really cared about it they would ask if the kid had complications at birth. You can be ‘brain damaged’ no matter how you were born.

      • Amy

        And we’re talking about teachers, school administrators, social workers, and MAYBE an RN on the special ed team. Not neonatologists or pediatricians. As an educator myself, I’m trained to offer pedagogical solutions to learning disabilities, not medical ones.

    • Rosalind Dalefield

      So why aren’t they asking if the mother drank heavily during pregnancy?! That’s proven to make a difference to the child’s development, whereas the mode of birth is not.

    • Amy

      My friend in NYC actually decided not to apply to a Waldorf preschool because it asked this on the application.

    • Amy

      Also, as a teacher myself, I’ve sat in on countless special education intake meetings. Prematurity and birth trauma sometimes do come out as relevant, but method of birth? Never.

    • That is such an insane question. If they want to know about complications they should ask whether there any complications with the child’s pregnancy or birth that may be affecting his or her development. Are they assuming that C-sections were all emergency ones coming about after oxygen deprivation or are they assuming C-sections are all scheduled ones where the child has less oxygen deprivation than the child might have with a vaginal birth?

    • indigosky

      A friend had that on her daughter’s application. She took a Sharpie and wrote “NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS” in bold, capital letters over those questions. No one ever said anything about it.

    • Sarah

      What about option c, the stork?

    • wookie130

      I saw that about a week ago, and shared it on my FB wall. It is ridiculous, and fortunately, the mother/author of that piece was able to get the district to remove that question from the form since that had been written and shared.

  • Rosalind Dalefield

    We know that mothering is not instinctive in the other great apes (chimpanzees, gorillas). A chimp or gorilla who has not grown up in a group where her mother or other apes have not raised babies in her presence, doesn’t have a clue what to do when she has a baby. The idea that humans know instinctively how to deal with a baby, when other great apes do not, is absurd.
    Mothering is instinctive in most individuals in domestic species, but we are not horses, ruminants, dogs or cats. Mothering is learnt, not instinctive, in the great apes.

    • Chi

      Someone told me that. In lesser mammals, such as cats and dogs, breastfeeding is totally instinctive. But yes, in primates, including humans, it is not and has to be learned.

      As we move away from villages that all band together to raise children, we see breastfeeding less and less in our close circles. Meaning it is much harder to establish and maintain the breastfeeding relationship.

      Sure we have lactation consultants and other so-called professionals, but they profit from the breast is best screed so where are we supposed to get solid, unbiased information about what is best for our child?

      Why are we made to feel guilty when we cannot establish breastfeeding, told that we’re poisoning our children when we have to supplement with formula.

      Well I’d rather poison my child than see them starve from not getting enough sustenance from breastmilk.

      I completely agree with Dr Amy. We need to make it harder for people to profit off this so-called natural mothering movement. We need to stop making mothers feel guilty when they make the best choices for their babies AND for them because surely, we should not expect them to sacrifice everything, including their own mental health, for the sake of their baby.

      The mommy wars have got to stop. I refuse to feel guilty because I went against the grain, Just because you exclusively breastfed and I didn’t does NOT make you superior to me.

      We are all mothers. We should be supporting one another, not judging.

      • Rosalind Dalefield

        Sorry, how did you conclude that I am judging you?

        Some women are lucky enough to be able to breastfeed easily. Some cannot. Some women make good milk and some do not. It is dumb genetic luck, and dumb genetic luck is nothing to feel proud, or bad, about.

        A great deal of research goes into making formula as close as good breastmilk as possible and nobody should feel bad about using it instead of nursing.

        • Amy M

          Maybe I read it wrong, but I thought she was directing that to the general “you”, not you personally?

          • Chi

            Sorry if you thought that was directed at you personally Rosalind, it wasn’t. As Amy says it was directed more at the general ‘you’, the ones who scream that breastfeeding is beautiful and natural, even when their nipples are cracked and bleeding.

            The ‘you’ who keeps pushing ‘breast is best’ even when they can see the baby is starving and mummy is at her wits end from lack of sleep and hormones.

            Basically that was aimed at anyone who might parachute in to say that Dr Amy has it all wrong, that motherhood is the most feminist thing you can do (true story, heard that one once from a natural birth advocate) and that no woman should feel guilty because EVERY woman CAN breast feed so there’s nothing to feel guilty about (yeah the logic of that one escaped me too).

            But yes, it was aimed at the general ‘you’ specifically the other mothers in my mother groups who asked me how long I breastfed (as if it were their right to know) and then told me that I obviously didn’t try that hard since I only managed it for 6 weeks exclusively before giving my daughter formula.

            Their smugness and perceived superiority when I was in a dark and vulnerable place is still a VERY sore spot for me. And this is 15 months down the track. I guess it shows that the attitudes we encounter in our first few months as mothers tend to stick with us. Which is why it’s so important to be supportive, no matter their choices, instead of scornful.

          • Rosalind Dalefield

            I went through the same sort of thing when my first two deliveries required forceps. Lots of ignorant idiots tried to tell me what I had ‘done wrong’. As it turned out, I have an android rather than a gynecoid pelvis, and no amount of positive thinking, hypnosis or getting into various positions is going to change that. I feel furious when I see women post ‘our bodies are made to give birth’ because mine sure as hell isn’t!

          • Inmara

            I understand why many are willing to believe and reinforce this ‘our bodies are made to give birth’ trope – before first labor it can help to ease anxiety and relax. People are different, and many women just don’t want to know what can go wrong and how (hopefully, majority of them are delivering in hospitals, therefore professionals will take care if something indeed goes wrong). I have different mindset, namely ‘hope for the best, prepare for the worst’, so I want to know about possible complications and fully accept that only dumb luck can guarantee that everything goes fine (apart from what medical staff can do, of course, and that’s where I need to know differences between ‘my body screwed me up’ vs. ‘total neglect and incompetence of midwife, let’s go complain’).

          • Rosalind Dalefield

            With my first labour, I got both: Undiagnosed posterior presentation, and neglectful midwife who ignored fetal distress for hours and did not tell me about it.

          • Inmara

            I’m sorry to hear about your experience, hopefully your baby turned out OK and next time you got better care!

            I fully agree that possible problems in pregnancy and delivery are somehow downplayed nowadays but I understand why many women prefer it in that way. Maybe I don’t see this as a huge problem because in my country almost all deliveries are in hospital setting with well trained midwives and OB oversight (by protocol, OB has to check with laboring woman at least few times) so there shouldn’t be situations when woman has to, let’s say, insist on hospital transfer from home if problems arise (our homebirth midwives are really careful with whom they will attend, also they are better equipped and trained than CPMs and won’t risk to ruin their reputation with stunt births).

          • Rosalind Dalefield

            Just to clarify, ,y first delivery, along with all the others, was in a hospital. At the time, the practice in New Zealand was for a midwife to look after the patient through most of a normal delivery and to call the OBGYN only when delivery was imminent. The problem was, my pregnancy (partial placental abruption at 38 weeks) and labour were not normal, but the midwife failed to hand over control.

          • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

            Thank you, I’m not sure where the idea that you shouldn’t be honest about the risks of pregnancy comes from. I’ve know what a crap shoot it was since I was4 and my mother started hemorraging in the middle of the living room. I can count the number of pregnancy problems in my family and run out of fingers: My daughter fetal distress and meconium aspiration, 2 of my sisters kids: Fibroid , large and growing with the baby, second kid had nuchal cord. My mother: with my brother she had placenta previa, transverse lie, uterine rupture. My aunt – shoulder dystocia they had to break my cousins collarbone to deliver him. All these babies survived along with their mothers due to modern medicine. The ones who didn’t: my grandmother’s third child Rh incompatibility, my greatgrandmother and her second daughter: stillbirth and PPH

      • Azuran

        And yet, many animals will totally have no clue what to do with babies and will let them starve, or simply refuse to breastfeed them. Many breeders of any kind of animal will eventually have problems with animals that are just bad parent. Some will even outright kill their babies. So much for natural instinct.

        • SporkParade

          You also forget the ones that have no clue what to do, so they eat their young.

        • Mel

          We’ve had two cows over 40 years that were infanticidal. It’s really rare, but scary as shit when it happens. In both cases, they were first time moms and didn’t have the “I shouldn’t fight with a calf” switch turn on. Both killed their calves before my in-laws could get the cow away from the baby – and would attempt to kill any other calves they saw. (The dams of the other calves would protect their calves, so none of them were hurt.)

          The first cow was when they only owned 40 cows and couldn’t afford to replace her in the herd. When she was due, someone would sit out in the barn 24/7 to remove her calf as soon as it was out of the mom and move the dam back into an area where she couldn’t see any calves.

          The second cow was in a larger herd. She was sold at the next sale day.

    • Cats abandon their young about 2 months after birth, I believe.

      • Rosalind Dalefield

        I breed cats, and I have a devil of a time trying to get the mothers to wean their kittens which end up still trying to suckle when they are bigger than the mom, so I think that instinct has been bred out of Birmans…

        • Megamechameg

          Either that or your cat moms are just super chill.

          • Cobalt

            The variety of response in animal mothers is as wide as (or maybe wider than) in humans. For example, we had a broodmare that strictly enforced weaning at 6 to 7 months, no matter what. That’s a perfectly safe age for horses to wean, but not typical “natural” behavior. Another mare, after 2 years separation and no subsequent foals, reunited with her 3 year old (past age of sexual maturity!) offspring and promptly reestablished a suckling relationship (no relactation, though, the milk wells were definitively dry).

          • Rosalind Dalefield

            I had one broodmare who would suckle her foal on one side and her two-year-old colt on the other. We also had a Jersey cow that would feed three calves and a goat simultaneously.

          • Mel

            Milk cows are known for their willingness to nurse multiple calves that are unrelated to them. We have an older cow – 3223 – who takes mothering seriously. When she’s about 7 days away from calving herself, she will start to steal any calf that is born in the pen she’s in. She fights the actual mom off and starts to position the calf to nurse off her udder. One day, my husband came into the farm in the morning to find her caring for 5 calves. The milkers couldn’t get the calves away from her because she would lower her head and start snorting – which means she’s willing to attack you. My husband was able to get the calves because he’s the “alpha cow” – cows pick up on human hierarchies, too.

          • Rosalind Dalefield

            Birmans are bred to be super chill, so that might be it.

        • fiftyfifty1

          I’ve heard that lately there has been a lot of peer pressure among cats to follow kitten-led-weaning.

          • Mel

            Our blue heeler / Aussie Shepard mix never got over the fact that one of the kittens she adopted from a half-weaned orphaned litter refused to grow up and stop following her around the farm. On the flip side, Little Orange Monster did learn to move calves around….

            The net outcome was that Domino runs and hides if she sees humans around kittens. She’s decided that she’s not getting saddled with kittens again….

          • Rosalind Dalefield

            Ha, that’s it! My ‘boss queen’ loves to lactate and feed kittens, and she must be shaming the others!

      • DelphiniumFalcon

        My mom’s old calico we had when I was a toddler used to drop her kittens off on people’s doorsteps when they were too days old. She couldn’t wait to get rid of them! They always got returned and then picked up when they were older and ready for homes.

        She did teach them to mouse at the very least. Would bring home live baby voles to teach them. That’s why we had no problem getting rid of the kittens she kept having. Every time we went to get her fixed she was already pregnant and they didn’t fix pregnant cats where we were. Thank goodness for the military lawn regulations on Dugway and that vole infestation. People would come make reservations as soon as they were old enough for visitors. The voles would ruin the lawns and if your lawns weren’t perfectly kept in the civilian quarter you got a fine. Frosty was the civilian village’s hero.

        • Medwife

          My cat never graduated from baby voles. And he’s still so proud when he gets one.

          • DelphiniumFalcon

            I’d rather she and her sons never graduated either, actually. @_@

            They’d slaughter mice at the top of our porch stairs and let the blood run down like they were some kind of movie Aztec cat. The stairs were dyed this reddish brown color from it. It was groooossss.

          • Inmara

            My parent’s cat regularly brings dead mice to their doorsteps but that’s not the worst. The worst is that she sometimes brings live mice, and once in the night my mother let her inside without noticing mouse in cat’s mouth. So the mouse got free and hid in our kitchen for some weeks until parents brought a trap and caught it – it was impossible for cat to catch the mouse anymore as there were too much places to hide. Now my mother is more cautious before letting cat in when it’s dark!

          • Rosalind Dalefield

            When a cat brings you mice, it is trying to teach you to hunt. My kitties are indoor-only so they bring me toy mice.

          • Inmara

            Yeah, I once read this explanation about why cats bring mice and other animals to their owners; now I like to spoil it for people who are convinced that cats bring them animals because “kitty loves me and wants to please me”. No, dear, they think that you are a shitty hunter and should learn a lot!

          • Mel

            Our cats when we were growing up brought all sorts of dead animals home. Black Cat brought Mom a bat he caught and lovingly laid it on her pillow under the blanket. Libbie was a good mouser until she got senile, then she would catch voles and mice, forget to kill them and set them free in the house. Libbie also caught a vole one time that Mom made her drop. The vole ran around a corner towards an open door when Toad – another cat – jumped out and caught the vole. Mom got the vole away from Toad…and realized it was dead. No wounds. Heart-attack.

        • fiftyfifty1

          “She did teach them to mouse at the very least. Would bring home live baby voles to teach them.”

          Our family cat was an excellent hunter and would bring home a rodent (typically a mouse, but sometimes a rat–yikes!) many days a week. They always had their heads chewed neatly off and she would always present them to my mother.

          This was the pattern until once when my sister was about 3, and then the cat brought home an entire litter of baby bunnies, one at a time, and laid them unharmed at my sister’s feet and tried to teach her to hunt.

          • Kelly

            That is adorable and horrifying at the same time.

          • DelphiniumFalcon

            That is horrifyingly adorable. Why do we love these furry murder machines? Lol

        • Mel

          The farm had a cat named Munchies – and no one realized the drug reference until I heard this story – who was an amazing ratter. She weighed about 5 pounds and would routinely take down rats that were as big as she was in the rafters of the barn.

          She also believed in teaching her kittens how to hunt at an early age. She’d carry kittens who were barely walking up into the rafters and leave them at joists while she hunted.

          Munchies was gone by the time I was on the farm, but I’m pretty sure her rationale was that the kittens were more than large enough to take on a rat pup so they should practice that while she got the adults.

          • DelphiniumFalcon

            I think that cat out crazied my mom’s cat. I never thought I’d see the day! Lol

      • Sarah

        That’s the sort of mammalistic parenting I could get right behind.

      • Maya Manship

        My dad was a farm hand until I was a freshman in high school. We moved a couple of times to different farms…not many. I lived on 3 farms during my childhood. Anyway, One move took us from Maine to New York. The owners of the farm in Maine wanted to keep my cat because he was the best hunter of all the cats.

  • Bombshellrisa

    OT but does fit the “I have done my research” line: shared on Facebook by a friend. Love it

    • Megan

      Love this!

    • Liz Leyden

      What was shared?

      • Bombshellrisa

        Liz, if you click on the view button, you can see the shared post. It’s a “I’ve done my research” pop quiz.

    • curious

      What are the answers, please?

      • Roadstergal

        The first one looks like a plasma cell to me, IgM is the first isotype (pentameric when soluble), TLRs are the receptors on innate immune cells that respond to a subset of very particular antigens that are common, particularly on bacteria, IL-7 is the signal for a CLP to become a B-cell, redundancy. The last Q is not a great one, as T-cell development has a lot going on when it comes to T-cell/stromal cell interactions, but IL-2 is one critical factor, so I’m assuming that’s what they mean.

        If I were making this quiz, I’d focus a little more on affinity maturation, development of memory and plasma cells, and IgG vs IgA, as that’s relevant to vaccines, robust immunity, and why breast milk doesn’t give it. 🙂

    • DelphiniumFalcon

      I’m stealing this. >.>

    • Maya Manship

      I rely heavily on my doctors. Why? I struggled with science in school. Barely managed a “C” in biology and failed the rest. Later on I gave it another try and was in an LPN program. There I could not count heart beats correctly to get an accurate blood pressure, kept losing count. I decided I do not belong in the medical field. I’m sure Dr. Amy and the rest of the medical professionals here would agree with that decision. If by some miracle I got licensed as an LPN I would have been a very dangerous one. I don’t do “research”. I ask questions at my appointments. And I’m hoping the apple falls far from the tree. Why? Well, Dr. Amy…my five year old wants to be you. I don’t know where she’ll choose to specialize but I will break the bank to give her that dream. Her role model is Doc McStuffins.

  • To the efforts of those fighting post-partum oppression: The Skeptical OB, Mama by the Bay, the Fearless Formula Feeder, Mums Uniting Mums, etc. – oppression is never overcome by silence but by those willing to call a spade a spade. Agree fully.

  • Angharad

    I like the idea of learning how to parent, but I think too many women get sucked into thinking that you have to learn how to parent the way they do it. I’ve been told to educate myself so that I would be able to have a natural (non-induced, non-epidural) childbirth for my next, and I’ve been told that if I had just had more support and education I could have successfully exclusively breastfed. In reality I think the more important things to learn are about balance – meeting the baby’s needs while taking into account my own and my husband’s, balancing independence and security for the baby, etc.

    • Guestwho

      What is funny to me is that my research leads me to conclude that the best path for me would probably be an epidural and formula right off the bat. I don’t want or need the support that would make breastfeeding and natural birth possible. That is like somebody telling me that with the correct support I could learn to hang glide. Technically true, but utterly irrelevant to my life and values.

      • Angharad

        An epidural was the right path for me too, and combo-feeding, until it was time to switch to formula. It would be lovely if there was information and education available about all the acceptable alternatives.

        • SporkParade

          Ugh, this is my pet peeve, the pressure to exclusively breastfeed. I mean, I could probably establish a sufficient supply if I woke up to pump in the middle of the night. It would also be horrendous for my physical and mental health, but who gives a damn about that?

          • GuestWho

            I could probably work hard to establish breastfeeding (large boobs with double inverted nipples! This is known for being a recipie for easy sucess!) before going back to work full time at six weeks hoping to hope that the baby will readily nurse and take a bottle after and I will respond well to the pump and that my supply won’t crap out like almost every other working mother that I have met…
            Or I could just formula feed and enjoy every step without stress.

          • Roadstergal

            A few weeks ago, I was at a breakfast for a work event and was chatting with some co-workers, some of whom were new parents. One of the not-new parents was sharing her stories as they all were, and mentioned how one kid liked regular formula and the other needed some special soy stuff. It suddenly occurred to me that this was the first time I can remember hearing someone say they had formula fed – without immediately following up with an explanation as to ‘why.’ I’m just so used to every comment on formula feeding ‘needing’ a reason why the woman isn’t breastfeeding tacked on.

          • GuestWho

            It is crazy! Particularly as statistically most mothers end up being formula mothers.
            What honestly blows my mind is how most of the mothers in my aquaintance lose their supply a month or so after returning to work and do the self-flagulation dance of maternal insufficiency and misery and ultimately end up formula feeding, but then six months later they are all still members of breastfeeding groups on facebook posting breast is best memes and criticizing formula moms.That more than anything convinces me that breast vs bottle is entirely about status for the mother and I am not killing myself to be one of the cool girls when I could be enjoying my new baby.

          • Sarah

            Nobody, obviously. It became irrelevant at conception.

  • Jocelyn

    OT: I’ve started a new blog. It’s goal is to reach those thinking about home birth and show them the true risks. http://ishomebirthsafe.blogspot.com/

    • Chi

      Damn I wish you’d been able to share that a couple of months ago. My sister has JUST (as in yesterday) had her baby girl. She had a home birth, and as far as I’m concerned, she’s REALLY lucky something didn’t go drastically wrong.

      Apparently there was ‘some’ tearing but she wouldn’t say how bad it was.

      Still…I wish I’d had more resources to show her WHY I was so concerned about her having a home birth.

  • Kelly

    The hardest thing about this is that women fall for this and it is so hard to get out of. I knew that formula was not bad and I knew all the information about the differences in each but it was so hard for me to stop pumping both times. I could not get over my emotions and feelings about the issues although I knew intellectually what the right answer was. Once, I finally realized that I needed to focus on myself and my family and what was best for us, I felt a huge burden lift and I became confident in my decisions. I am not an amazing mother but I am a good enough mother. I never want to look into my oldest child’s eyes again and see the hurt and pain I caused her when all my time and effort was focused on pumping and not her. The PPD that made me angry all the time did not help either.

    • Chi

      I think the fact that we’re swimming with hormones makes us particularly vulnerable. Having gone through 9 months growing and protecting this life inside our bodies (including watching our diet, supplements, the whole works) we are desperate to ensure that when the baby is delivered we are ‘good’ parents.

      Unfortunately, everywhere you go there is a completely different definition as to what a ‘good’ parent is. And almost ALL those different definitions contradict one another. You’re a bad mother if you co-sleep, you’re a bad mother if you don’t exclusively breastfeed for at LEAST a year, you’re a bad mother if you DON’T co-sleep, you’re a bad mother if you get a c-section. Etc, etc etc.

      And I think the hormones make it very hard for us to rationally process all the information that gets thrown at us. Sure some of us may take an antenatal class, but a lot of those these days are very Natural Birth biased. So it can be REALLY hard to know where to get useful, unbiased information.

      You’re not just a good enough mum Kelly. You ARE amazing, because you were finally able to see through the bullshit and realize that pumping was actually doing you more harm than good. Both mentally and in your relationship with your other child.

      And this is the kind of shit I mean when I say we need to stop judging new mothers. If people weren’t so judgmental, if someone had said to you ‘you know, combo feeding isn’t the end of the world’ then maybe you could have been spared all that guilt and sorrow at not breastfeeding exclusively.

      We need mums to know that they are supported no matter what. Whether they breastfeed, combo feed or formula feed.

      The ONE thing that makes us mothers, and good mothers, nay great mothers at that, is the fact that we love our children and want to do what’s best for them.

      Now all we need to do is realize that sometimes, we also need to do what’s best for ourselves.

  • Zoey

    One of the million reasons I couldn’t identify with attachment parenting was that I could never seem to resolve the tension between the glorification of instinctual mothering in some circumstances, and the overwhelming pressure to “know better, do better” and constantly “research” and self-educate about parenting on the other.

    Like for example, when breastfeeding comes easy to you, or when your instincts told you that you were afraid to leave your baby alone in their crib, that was great that you followed your instincts. But if you follow your instincts, to say feed your screaming, starving baby formula, or wore your baby facing outwards in a Baby Bjorn because she seemed to like it, or anything else not-AP approved, then you were expected to feel bad about not doing your research ahead of time, and vow to “know better, do better.”

    The use of instinct in that context just seemed like a way to make you feel good about yourself for following doctrine, or very bad about yourself if your instincts don’t make you feel the way you’re supposed to feel. I like the idea that parenting is a learned skill so much better.

    • Mattie

      Yeh, I always found that to be a little weird, I love some aspects of AP (mostly the way it encourages parents to see their children as individuals, and try to actually understand them) but I don’t think the things I like are exclusive to AP and there’s too much I imagine myself doing differently that would be frowned upon in AP. Like, I am a big big critic of controlled crying/sleep training (it doesn’t actually ‘work’) and I like a sling, but I’ll also use formula if breastfeeding doesn’t work, and I am definitely going to be buying a good pram, and a cot for after 6 months. No co-sleeping, I do not need that stress.

      A question though, I thought the not having babies outwards facing in carriers was because of the strain it puts on their hips?

      • Zoey

        My experience with AP was that it didn’t encourage you to see your child as an individual at all.

        Your baby sleeps better in a crib than in your bed? Not OK, because breastfeeding is too important and you need your baby right there to feed all night, and babies are designed to sleep by a parent.

        Or your baby is trying to wean at 12 months? Not OK, because no baby is ever supposed to self wean before 2 and you should deny them solid food until they give up their nursing strike.

        And that’s just seeing your child as an individual. Forget accounting for the fact that YOU as a parent are also an individual with your own preferences and needs. Those are really not OK if they aren’t what AP says you’re supposed to want. Because they’re only babies for so long, and you’ll look back fondly on waking up 17 times a night once your baby is all grown up, etc. Dogma is mostly inconsistent with individuality, in my opinion.

        • Mattie

          well in that case I am not at all AP, just planning on doing what works with my future children, whatever that may be lol

          • Amy M

            I have twins, and while I was pregnant with them, I ran across an acquaintance who was a loud proponent of AP. She was cool in that she was ok with other parents being non-AP, but she made it clear that AP was her preference and very much a part of her identity. Anyway, she asked me which parenting philosophy I intended to follow when the babies were born, and I laughed and said “Survival!” Basically shut that conversation right down. We couldn’t have had more different parenting styles, yet her child and my children are all fine–amazing!

        • Roadstergal

          “My experience with AP was that it didn’t encourage you to see your child as an individual at all.”

          That’s exactly what I thought when I read Mattie’s post. My AP/NCB/etc friend talks a lot about seeing her child as an individual, but so much of her parenting is “If you really love your child, you will do X.” X being EBF, co-sleep, homeschool, wearing and so on. It seems, from this outsider’s perspective, like a child is only an individual insofar as he/she prefers what the AP community says is best.

          • Amy M

            Yes, and how many stories have we heard/read of women killing themselves to follow AP practices, even though both they AND their babies were miserable? But mom couldn’t try something else, because that would be wrong. Then those poor women are led to believe that they must be DOING it wrong, because according to AP, if you do X (correctly), you will get Y (a perfect baby that never cries).

            I could see how this would be especially awful for a mother whose first child responded to the AP practices, but the 2nd child, not so much. My twins are identical, yet they have different personalities and it definitely happens that something that works well with one, doesn’t with the other.

          • MegaMechaMeg

            I know a family where the mother tends to follow AP practices. To my eye it is one part ideology and two parts practicality because as a SAHM with sweet natured children gentle discipline and breastfeeding and making her own baby food and cloth diapering really just seems practical for her situation.
            Until recently the baby coslept with her parents and everything was going fine until about a month ago when she would wake up screaming almost hourly all night long. Mom tried everything, but they were all getting miserable and finally for sake of her husband keeping his job she moved the baby to a crib and set up a cot for herself in the same room. The baby immediately started sleeping through the night. Turns out that the baby hated cosleeping and wanted nothing more than to sleep alone in her own space. My friend complied and I have honestly never seen her so good naturedly chagrined.

        • Cobalt

          As an idea, AP sells itself as being about responding to the child’s individual needs. In practice, in our current parenting culture, it is about displaying a certain series of status markers.

      • fiftyfifty1

        “Like, I am a big big critic of controlled crying/sleep training (it doesn’t actually ‘work’)”
        What do you mean “it doesn’t actually ‘work'” ? It worked for us. Day 1 stressful, day 2 less stressful, day 3 just a little fuss, day 4 sweet relief.
        Not that it works that way for everyone or that parents should do it if they don’t want to, but don’t discount those of us who have families where this technique was a real savior.

        • just me

          Hear hear. And having read a TON on this, I suspect that most of the time when it doesn’t work it’s bc people don’t do it right–eg they’re inconsistent–they do it for a little while then give in and take the the baby out of the crib, etc.

          • Angharad

            I don’t know for certain, of course, but I know more than one person who’s told me that sleep training led to three-plus hours of screaming on multiple consecutive nights. Maybe they were doing it wrong, but I hesitate to blame parenting trials on the parents in most cases.
            I think there’s a LOT of unnecessary rhetoric around sleep training – I don’t think it will cause brain damage or long-term psychological issues or anything like that, but I doubt that using non-cry-it-out methods does any harm either (I hope, as we didn’t use cry-it-out).

          • Guestwho

            I have heard that it can depend on the baby. My mother will tell anyone who listens that cry it out saved her sanity when my brother and I were little, but I know a little boy who didn’t sleep through the night until he was four and who had the ability to scream for hours without ceasing until he got what he wanted. I don’t know if his parents tried sleep training him, but I can certainly guess that he had the emotional fortitude to power through any attempts. It wasn’t until they started playing music all night that he was able to figure out how to get and stay asleep.

          • Kelly

            It worked for both of my kids but we had to find out what worked for her. The first child could not handle us coming in to check on her because it riled her up. My second, once she was older, needed us to come in, lay her back down, and sternly say go to sleep. She would cry harder but it would only take her five minutes to realize that we would not rescue her and she would go to sleep. I know of kids where sleep training did not work. I think like with all things parenting, every child is different, and you need to find out what works for your kid.

          • MegaMechaMeg

            Interesting, I had a secret theory that the checking in would do more harm than good, but since it was universally recommended I figured that I was wrong.

          • Kelly

            I have gotten to the point where I hear an idea I like and then modify it to my children or situation. I felt bad at the time with my first child, but it worked and I could sleep. Sleep is awesome. As long as it is not abuse, do what you need to do.

          • Who?

            And for you as well. We felt well guided through the process, we followed the instructions, the baby must have read the book because he also followed the instructions.

            Had it not gone so smoothly, or had we not felt so determined and confident, perhaps it would have gone differently, and we would have found another way to cope. Though at that stage it felt like there was nowhere much to go.

          • Who?

            I wonder what else was going on for the four year old in terms of behaviour and activities during the day? He must have been pretty ordinary the rest of the time if he was waking/screaming so much in the night?

          • just me

            Yeah, I think it probably truly won’t work for a small subset of babies. But I’ve read a lot of accounts pooh-poohing it and inevitably the parents hadn’t followed through.

          • Maria

            Lots and lots of unnecessary rhetoric!! Our first did one night, 20 minutes of crying, and she was sleeping through the night. She was one of those babies that would start to perk up the longer we stayed in the room, so we learned quite quickly to keep the bedtime routine short and sweet. Had she been one who would cry for three hours, I am not sure we would have followed the same technique. Each child is different and you have to do what works! My theory is that there is a greater chance of harm if your baby is chronically sleep deprived. How you get your baby to sleep the appropriate amount is up to you and your family.

          • KarenJJ

            Not true and this did my head in at the time because I thought it was because I was “doing it wrong” and felt like a failure at sleep training. Even Ferber now admits that some kids aren’t amenable to sleep training and especially those that are more anxious or going through a big separation anxiety stage are less likely to succeed at sleep training.

          • just me

            Right–for a few it doesn’t work. And of course you want to avoid doing it at the wrong time–eg 8-9 mo where separation anxiety is likely. I highly recommend the book Bedtiming on what ages are good to do (any kind of) sleep training. Has good discussion of what is going on developmentally.

        • Amy M

          We had a similar situation at our house–4 days, and babies could fall asleep wo/needing to eat, and fall back asleep if they awoke in the night. Of course, if there was a real problem, they would not fall back asleep and one of us would deal with it.

        • Anne

          Totally worked for us. One night of (lots of) screaming at 4.5 months. Slept through the night the next night. Call me a monster, but I am a well-rested monster. I think a common mistake parents make is giving in at the peak of distress – thus reinforcing the distress-related behavior. And I think the “check ins” can function as reinforcers for some babies, so checking in when they are crying just reinforces the crying. Total extinction may be difficult for some to stomach, but it’s the most likely to be effective (in this behaviorist’s opinion).

          • Cobalt

            A well rested monster is the best kind! Sleep matters!

          • Mattie

            Thing is, how do you know if there’s something wrong if you just ignore it…or do you check once the crying stops? If all babies have to tell parents when something is wrong is crying, and parents ignore the crying to sleep train, could they not be ignoring the something wrong? I mean…that’s probably why a lot of parents check, and most sleep-training programs say you should only let them cry for a certain amount of time before checking to make sure they’re not hurt don’t they?

          • momofone

            It doesn’t take long to figure out the different cries–“I’m hungry” is not the same as “I’m hurt,” and that one’s different from “I’m wet,” etc. Whether you cry it out or not, you learn the differences.

          • Bombshellrisa

            When they have been recently fed, dry and it’s nap or bedtime, you just learn to listen and watch for cues when they are fussy. I don’t believe in letting a baby cry it out for hours on end, but sometimes crying for ten minutes is the only way my son can get to sleep if he has had a short nap or a long day. He is 17 months old, he started sleeping through the night without any kind of help and before I had planned on him doing so (I thought something was wrong when I woke up the next morning and he hadn’t woken me up).

          • Rosalind Dalefield

            My eldest went through a stage when he got really grumpy at bedtime, and we would put him down while promising ourselves we wouldn’t let him cry for more than 10 minutes. He turned out to be a pro at crying for 9 minutes and 30 seconds and then falling asleep.

          • Amy M

            Most sleep training methods don’t involve letting a baby cry for very long—maybe 15min at most, wo/someone checking on the baby. And, if the baby is amenable to sleep training, the training period is a matter of days. If I knew the baby was sick or something, I wouldn’t start sleep training right then. Assuming the baby is well, and has been fed, and is dry, etc, that’s one way parents rule out why the baby is crying. I think most sleep training methods suggest waiting until the baby is at least 4mos old before trying, and by then, the parents can often tell the difference among types of cries.

          • just me

            Exactly (giving in)

        • Mattie

          It doesn’t work in that babies do not have the part of their brain that is required to ‘self-soothe’ they’ll stop crying, but not because they’re soothed…they just become conditioned not to cry because it doesn’t get a caregiver to come. The same way those babies in Romanian orphanages don’t cry, or the baby on the NSPCC advert…

          Obviously if what you want is your baby to not cry and eventually sleep, then it works, but if you want your baby to self-soothe you have to wait for the part of their brain that regulates emotions, and that doesn’t happen until the baby is around school-age. Self-soothing is sort of like expecting your baby to ride a bike, or read a book.

          Also, saying all this, it’s unlikely to have any effect at all if the rest of the time the baby has its needs met effectively and is loved and cared for (unlike the Romanian orphans or the neglected NSPCC kid) but for me, just not something I want to do…I can’t bear to listen to babies cry and not try and comfort them.

          • Cobalt

            “I can’t bear to listen to babies cry and not try and comfort them.”

            Once upon a time, that was me. We’ve had two colicky screamers since then (and I mean minimum 12 hours a day of inconsolable howling), and now I’m immune.

          • Mattie

            12 hours is intense and I take my hat off to you, but I don’t think it would make me immune to crying…like I’d still respond the same way to crying before or after those 12 hours, because that baby has no other way of asking for things. Side note, I had colic and the only thing that worked was car rides (and funnily enough I still fall asleep really easily in cars)

          • Cobalt

            12 hours of crying once or twice for a sensitive listener is torturous. Everyday for months? You develop an audio callous or you go batshit insane.

            One child was sometimes soothed by car rides. The other wasn’t consolable with any amount of safe movement. It was just something we (baby and family) had to survive. I put him in a safe space and shut the door a number of times that would give a “real warrior mama” an aneurysm. But we made it through, safe and sane (well, mostly- we did have two more kids even after that) on the other side, and he is the most “bonded” out of the bunch.

          • Mattie

            Yeh, I think CIO is an option if you want to do it, it doesn’t work for the reasons people think (due to a baby not having developed emotional self-regulation) but it works in that babies will stop crying and go to sleep eventually, and it does no harm if the baby is otherwise cared for, I am not planning on doing it, but if I have a baby that cries non-stop for an entire day and the options are put baby down somewhere safe to cry and close the door or lose my cool and hurt myself or the baby then cry it out will win no contest.

            I don’t believe in being a martyr to your baby, but in a ‘normal’ situation I am not a big fan of CIO.

          • just me

            What’s your citation for this nonsense that it doesn’t work the way people think?

          • just me

            So reading this again I take it you don’t have a baby yet. I strongly suggest you read Ferber’s book (with actual science!) before your child is born.

          • Who?

            I’m the word nazi this morning, but would like to take a moment to unpack ‘normal’. All sorts of things are normal but not very nice. Normal toddlers are self absorbed, we spend a lot of time helping them socialise. It’s normal for me to have raging hayfever in spring, I take drugs to deal with it. Both of those normal situations are not very pleasant, and their treatment is a good thing.

            By the same token, it might be normal for your child to wake 4-5 times in the night, every night. Does that facilitate a functioning family life? Not to my way of thinking. Dr Ferber’s book saved our lives with a 6 month old who did just that. One evening, about 1.5 hours of intermittent crying-we did the patting in between-and his sleep habit was transformed. Waking in the night then happened when he was too hot/cold or was unwell, and it was much easier to get up to him when he needed us.

            We went from being walking zombies to being functioning humans, which made working out parenting that bit easier. So the boy benefited as well.

          • Zen

            Wait…so you’re not actually a parent? I certainly hope you’re in some line of work with children that allows you to make all these comments regarding the success or failure of CIO.

          • AmJam

            With all due respect, it does not sound like you have a great deal of experience with small children, and a misunderstanding of what sleep training does and does not do. The purpose of sleep training is not primarily about emotional self-regulation (as a side note, it seems as if you have read something about “emotional self-regulation” which would encompass a great deal more than a child learning to rock themselves or suck a thumb, which are extremely common and appropriate self-soothing activities that babies about 4+ months can and do learn to do when tired). Sleep training does little more than teach an infant that when it is put down during a specific time and place and nothing else is wrong, they can and should go to sleep. It is behavior training that works very well for most children and usually takes a few days to a week. What is disregarded by most who “don’t believe in sleep training” is that there is a very big difference between the sleep training itself and the post-training period. Yes, you run the risk of not responding to a Child’s need during the process (say, a poopy diaper) for longer than you would normally allow. The risk is low because you can often tell by the cry itself or behavior pattern that something else is going on beyond the Child’s “want” of somebody to pick them up, but the risk is there. But training lasts an extremely short time. After the sleep training period, it is actually easier to appropriately attend to a child over night. If they cry out in the middle of the night and don’t quiet right back down, the odds that something is actually amiss is higher and you can respond to them quickly. My sleep trained children (and the dozens I have helped to train through years of being a nanny) have no problem letting their caregivers know when they need something during the post-sleep training period, and they all get great sleep now!

          • Bombshellrisa

            I didn’t get colicky babies, but I am immune to some crying simply because sometimes baby isn’t asking for anything, just vocalizing.

          • DelphiniumFalcon

            I know I screaming for nearly the first two years of my life. It got better around nine months when I started walking and talking but it wasn’t until I was able to communicate AND be understood that the screaming stopped.

            Even though it’s probably still a vague concept to the infant mindmind (if it exists at all even, and I don’t really know much about neurodevelopment, I wonder if screaming in some older infants is from frustration due to not being able to communicate their needs effectively.

            I know I’d get terribly frustrated and angry when I didn’t have a word to convey what I meant when I was a very young child.

          • Bombshellrisa

            I think my son firmly believes he is being crystal clear and we are being the difficult ones. He is a yes or no answerer, and points and gestures for the rest. He is talking a ton, but I have no idea what he is saying most of the time.

          • just me

            This is bullshit. Babies CAN self-soothe. Quit reading the Sears crap.

          • DiomedesV

            What age group are you talking about? It matters, you know.

            Are you talking about a 6 week old? They can’t self-soothe. Few parents are recommending CIO with a 6 week old.

            A 4 month old is on the cusp of being able to self soothe. Many of them can. By the time they’re 6 months old, most babies should be able to do it. In fact, I would be worried if a 6 month couldn’t.

          • fiftyfifty1

            You are spreading nonsense.

            Conditioned not to cry like a Romanian orphan?! In 3 nights? Tell me how that’s possible. Tell me why they seemed perfectly able to cry at other times. Tell me why they are happy and healthy thriving kids.

            Not able to self sooth until school age because “they do not have the part of their brain that is required”? What part of the brain is that, huh? LOL.

            What total ignorance of human development and neurobiology.

      • fiftyfifty1

        ” I thought the not having babies outwards facing in carriers was because of the strain it puts on their hips”
        Have any citation for that?

        • Zoey

          I had read that you weren’t supposed to face babies outwards in carriers because it could be over stimulating. If baby is chest to chest with you, they can bury their face into your chest to hide if they don’t want to look around anymore. A forward facing baby has nowhere to hide.

          Anecdotally, my babies used to fall asleep forward facing in a carrier, so it couldn’t have been THAT stimulating.

          • MegaMechaMeg

            My anecdotal data says that every baby I have known screams like a banshee facing inwards if they know that facing out is an option. It always felt like the overstimulation thing was something somebody made up to pretend their kid needed them more than they actually did.

          • FormerPhysicist

            My anecdata says that every baby has a unique personality. My first – even at 2 hours old screamed like a banshee when swaddled, and did the same facing inwards. My second, from the beginning, wanted to be swaddled and preferred facing in until 4 or 5 months.

            Also – Murphy’s law. If you find things that work for you and kid #1, you have to start back at the no-nothing beginning with the next kid.

          • KarenJJ

            LOL. I think the same thing about overstimulation. I even had a nurse tell me that I needed to put my infant down in the bouncer facing a blank wall to calm her down so that she would go to sleep better. Same nurse showed me a video of “tired signs”. My six week old baby was one of those incredibly alert babies that has only ever operated on the bare minimum sleep. Now as a 6yo she still takes ages to wind down to sleep.

            Her little brother however DID show tired signs and switches off and goes to sleep really quickly. I don’t believe that as a younger brother he was any ‘less over stimulated’ than his sister. As a first time mum I was baffled, as a second time mum it was “oh, so THAT’S what they mean by “tired signs””.

          • Inmara

            Yes, the thing about overstimulation was taught in my birthing/parenting class too. But it applies only to babies up to 3 months, in a period of time when they supposedly need “boundaries” in other settings too, to make their environment more similar to uterus. Also, their posture in front-facing carriers is with too straight legs and too much strain on their hips – but this apparently depends on whom you ask, maybe this consensus is stronger among European physiotherapists.

          • namaste863

            According to my mother, I’d pitch an almighty fit if I WASNT in a forward facing carrier!

          • KarenJJ

            Yes. My eldest was like that. She adored facing outwards and kicking her feet around. I tried a carrier that had her tucked up and facing me and she lasted five minutes and started making a fuss. Put her back in the Baby Bjorn and she was fine. Gave her a feed and a nappy change, tried the other carrier again and same thing. Lasted 5 minutes and then started up again. She really loved that Baby Bjorn carrier.

        • SporkParade

          I spoke about this with a physiotherapist, who checked with an orthopedist, who said that it’s a problem for babies with hip dysplasia, but that it isn’t an issue for babies with healthy hips.

        • Mattie

          Just quickly I found this from the International Hip Dysplasia Institute, I do not have a clue if they are reputable but they suggest that poor hip positioning can lead to problems in the hips http://hipdysplasia.org/developmental-dysplasia-of-the-hip/prevention/baby-carriers-seats-and-other-equipment/ the image shows a not-recommended and a better position for baby carrier, although both babies are facing backwards in the photos, the ‘better’ position can only be achieved with the baby rear-facing. Heck if I’m wrong then I’m wrong, but as an adult with chronic hip pain I would do anything possible to avoid that in my child, although I’ll give them the screwed up HMS/EDS genes anyway so it’s probably moot lol

      • KeeperOfTheBooks

        I have to say, CIO worked wonders for DD. I’m sure it may not for every baby. However, for us the options were a) spend upwards of an hour fighting DD to get her to sleep, and that three times/day plus bedtime, or b) give her a bottle, read her a story, snuggle/rock her for a while, and then put her down to fuss for 20 minutes (at first–now, rarely, and only for 5 minutes max) before falling asleep.
        The first alternative had me spending 3-4 hours every DAY just getting her to sleep. Ain’t no one got time for that, and it wasn’t doing our relationship any good either; she dreaded sleepytime, and fought it tooth and nail, and I dreaded it, too, because who wants to rock a thrashing, kicking, screaming baby (assuming all of that is because she’s both tired and angry) for over an hour at a time? CIO at 3 or 4 months it was, and an excellent thing for both of us.

        • Chi

          I didn’t do CIO per say. At around 4 months DD got to be a right little horror around bedtime and naps. Up until that point she’d been sleeping in a bassinet in my room but once I started reading up on sleep regression and sleep training I realized it was time to move her into her own room, so she would associate her cot with bedtime/naptime and sleep.

          We introduced a proper bedtime routine and for the first few nights one of us (me or hubby) would put her to bed, close the door so it was dark and then just sit in the room with her. When she got really upset it was ok to go pick her up and give her a quick cuddle, sort of a ‘there there it’s ok’ but mostly it was quiet shhhing from the corner. Kind of just to reassure her that we were still there and she hadn’t been abandoned.

          The first night she full-out cried for like 20mins, then grizzled for another 15 or so.

          The second she only grizzled, and even then for like 20mins.

          The third night she gave a token grizzle before rolling over and snuggling into her blankets.

          The fourth night I didn’t even have to stay in the room.

          And she’s been an awesome sleeper ever since (12-13hrs per night). Barring illness/teething of course.

          • DelphiniumFalcon

            I seriously need to take notes from you guys.

          • Chi

            The thing is though, I accept that what worked for my child, will not necessarily work for another.

            All I can do is share my experiences and hopefully some of what I went through is relevant and helpful to someone else. Maybe they’ll try what I did and yay it’ll work. Maybe it won’t.

            I think the biggest lesson you can learn as a new parent is to be flexible. You need to be able to adjust and rethink strategies when others clearly are not working.

      • Mishimoo

        It’s easy to be critical of CIO until you’re faced with a baby that will not sleep unless they are laying on your lap and have their face resting on a bare breast. Any movement wakes them and means that they will drink until they fall off the breast, only to snuggle it again. Getting to bed is later every night, you have to sneak the baby into their cot and stand there with your hand on their back, gradually lifting it off a fraction at a time. It’s exhausting, it’s midnight already, and all you have done since dinner time (6pm) is feed and soothe the baby in hope that you can sleep. You’re snappy, tired, and touched-out because there is almost no time in the day where you aren’t sharing your body. That’s when my dear husband decided to save my sanity by doing CIO. It only took 3 days, and we did it for the next two kids when they were ready.

        • Who?

          I’m having flashbacks now!!!

          My husband’s work friend sent a copy of the Ferber book home with him one day. We were so scared to try, but with his friend’s positive words in our ears, we did it. Started on a Friday night so we would have the weekend to do it. Got three nights sleep straight, and Monday was beautiful.

          And he’s still an amazing sleeper.

          Thinking of the policeman shot in Melbourne this morning. All crossed he will be okay.

          • Mishimoo

            Writing it out gave me flashbacks too, it was horrendous and I can’t believe I did that to myself. I was so worried when we tried CIO, but they are all great sleepers now and are just plain awesome kids.

            That policeman is so lucky! When I read the headline, I was amazed that he was still alive. Here’s hoping that he recovers quickly and doesn’t have any lasting issues.

          • Who?

            Glad the kids are great, sounds like you have made a lovely family, they are lucky to have such a kind mum.

            Yes, I guess once you get past the being shot, it all seems to be going in the right direction. It’s such a rare thing here, thankfully.

          • Mishimoo

            It is rare, but it always makes me cranky. This is Australia, those things shouldn’t happen here, dammit! (naive, I know, but Melbourne is meant to be better than everywhere else. All the locals say so 😉 )

        • Gatita

          CIO didn’t work for us but I wish it had. I didn’t have any ideological objection to it, just the crying extinction part never happened for us because it turned out my kid had an undiagnosed milk allergy and was in terrible pain. Once we figured it out he finally slept through the night. It was horrible.

          • Who?

            Poor little one, and poor you. Another example of normal for that child not being okay-milk allergy in a baby? That’s tough.

          • Mishimoo

            Poor kiddo and poor you! That would have been awful!! So glad it was figured out, that would have been hellish.

        • KarenJJ

          I wish that options could be presented to families without the moralising. Just the ‘these are the risks and these are the potential benefits and if you grow up loving your kids and looking out for their best interests then they’ll likely be fine’.

          One kid was so anxious with CIO she made herself sick and refused to go into the cot for a few weeks. The other kid was a bit upset at first and then over the next few nights he started sleeping for longer and stopped needed people coming in, picking him up and rocking him back to sleep (he was 12 months and really heavy and wriggly!).

  • Monkey Professor for a Head

    I have a theory that anyone who cares enough to worry that they are a good mother is almost certainly a good mother.

    • Megan

      I totally agree with this.

    • Roadstergal

      It’s a good theory, but I might exempt the humblebraggers.

    • fiftyfifty1

      I’m aquainted with some counterexamples unfortunately.

    • Gatita

      Unfortunately I don’t think that’s true. But certainly self-awareness and humility are good for any parent to have.

  • Amy M

    The only thing I would add is that Western,white, relatively privileged women inflict this on each other too, not just women of color or those less privileged. I think plenty of white, privileged Western women fall prey to this oppression, because they are convinced by their peers, that there is one and only one way of parenting. Or mothering, let’s be honest, Dad rarely factors in here—only mothers have such strict standards to live up to.

  • JJ

    I do think “postpartum oppression” contributed to my severe PPD after my first baby. I felt like unless I did everything just right he was going to die or be seriously harmed which made me anxious and exhausted.

    • Gatita

      For me it was not being able to breastfeed. It made me feel like I’d failed the first real parenting test and it was a sign that I’d made a terrible mistake in having a kid. Admittedly I brought a lot of baggage to motherhood because of my deeply fucked up childhood but the cultural pressure didn’t help. At all.

  • Mel

    My extended family had two adorable baby girls born exactly one month apart. At baby 1’s baptism, baby 2’s mom was mentioning how she always feels guilty that she can’t do everything a good mom is supposed to do. My mom-in-law (who raised 4 kids) listened carefully and asked two questions:
    MIL: “Is the baby alive?”
    Cousin: “Yes….but”
    MIL: “Are you alive?”
    Cousin: “Um…yeah, but”
    MIL: Congratulations! You are an awesome mom! You’ve pulled off the ONLY goals that matter – survival of you and the baby. The rest is window-dressing.

    • Kelly

      That is one awesome Mother-in-law.

    • Mattie

      I’d probably add whether you (mum) are happy more than you are not, if not, can you alter anything to make it so that you are happier while still keeping yourself and the baby alive. Because while mothering at times is hella stressful (I’ve heard) you should also be enjoying it, because that baby will only have those first things once, and if you’re super stressed and unhappy because you feel like you have to do xyz all the time then you’re gonna miss those fun times, and that would be rubbish. If doing abc is easier for you than xyz and it’s not harmful, do abc and then enjoy the fun times with your new baby…or enjoy more sleep, sleep is good too.

      • Who?

        So uncomfortable with that ‘should’. Seriously, if I could remove one word from the english language, ‘should’ would be it.

        Our children aren’t here to make us happy, or for our enjoyment, though making a family can be a very satisfying and rewarding experience.

        The things I think I missed were the ‘last’ ones, which just quietly slipped away as the kids grew-last bedtime story, last Friday afternoon bubblies with the mummy friends, last book covering session for school. Mostly you don’t recognise them, they happen and then one way or another they never happen again.

        • Gatita

          *sob* Don’t make me cry. My kid is growing up so fast and it’s mostly awesome but I know the first time he rolls his eyes at me or is embarrassed by me it’s going to break my heart.

          • Who?

            I guess it’s just another way of saying make the most of the mundane things. Sometimes we forget we’re happy in the midst of getting through the day, the week, the year. Trying to notice and acknowledge when everyday things go well makes some nice memories to think about during the more challenging times.

          • Rosalind Dalefield

            What broke my heart, three times over because three of mine were boys, was realizing that the fluff on his upper lip was longer and more profuse than the fluff on mine.

    • momofone

      I love this. A much younger friend is expecting her first baby in a few months, and came by a couple weeks ago to chat. She said that she’s worried because she keeps hearing how fast the time goes/how precious every moment is/to be sure to enjoy every second/blah blah blah, and she’s not sure she’ll be able to if she’s exhausted–“And already, I’m worried about what I’m going to be missing, and that I’m going to be failing her already!”

      • Amy M

        Did you tell her that there are many non-precious moments that she will be all too happy to forget ? (diaper blowout in public place, no change of clothes. Or being up for 3 straight days because baby won’t sleep/has colic. Or that first ear infection.)

        • KeeperOfTheBooks

          Or that first time when your darling child toddles sweetly over to you, holding something in her hand to give you.
          Aaaaaaand it’s a fistful of poop, cleverly removed from her own diaper.
          And you realize that you’ve lost any and all coolness because all you say is, “Um, honey, that’s really gross, let’s wash your hand now” and carry her to the sink, without even having the instinct to shriek and recoil in horror, as you once would have.
          No, this totally didn’t happen to me recently, why did you ask?
          There was also three days ago, when I got upstairs to find her doing what I can only describe, however unpolitically-correct, as an Indian war dance while waving her pj pants (which she’d gotten off for the first time all by herself!) triumphantly around her head and crowing. The facial war paint–again, her own poo–was a nice touch, I thought.
          After that, this kid’s going to be in zippered footie PJs until she’s fifteen.

          • demodocus

            I can only hope this doesn’t occur to my toddler, but it’s a forlorn hope. eep

          • MegaMechaMeg

            My friend’s thought they were safe from the finger painting because their chrinicaly constipated daughter only made pellets. She dug them out and stuck them to the wall.

          • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

            Ah yes, what my niece refers to as her two kids Picasso period! But just think of the stories you will have for embarassing your pre-teens! Clean your room or the next time your friends come over I tell them about the time you “painted” your room..Why yes I am a horrible Mom!

          • Liz Leyden

            And that is why God created duct tape.

          • Who?

            Neither of my kids did it, if that’s any consolation.

          • Rosalind Dalefield

            I had four and none of them did it, so it’s not inevitable.

          • Mishimoo

            I have 3, the only poop story I have is of my youngest sweetly handing me a dirty nappy. No painting, no rubbing it into carpet, no feeding it to the dogs. There is hope! (Watch as he does one of those in the next few days, simply to show me up)

        • momofone

          I did! I told her to enjoy what she can, and to survive the rest. 🙂

          • Who?

            Best.Parenting.Advice.Ever.

            and I like the idea of taking a moment at the end of the day to think about something that went okay. Sometimes that can take a while.

          • KarenJJ

            LOL – that should be stamped on all baby care books! That first four months of my eldest child’s life was the longest four months of my life. I found plenty of lovely moments but spent most of it as a massive ball of anxiety, loneliness and boredom.

        • Liz Leyden

          Or the first shrieking contest at Wal*Mart. Or the first public meltdown at Wal*Mart. Yes, my kids and I spend a lot of time at Wal*Mart. It’s Screaming Baby Central, and they fit right in.

    • KeeperOfTheBooks

      Your mother-in-law is awesome. 😀