The riddle at the heart of attachment parenting

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If there’s one thing that natural childbirth advocates are sure of, it’s that unhindered birth is best. Women and babies are “designed” for birth, and if they only trust birth, it will turn out fine. That’s why some natural childbirth advocates choose homebirth and a smaller group choose unassisted homebirth. They want to give birth “their way” and whatever way feels safest to them is safe. In other words, babies and mothers know how to handle birth; complications happen when we try to interfere with the process.

Aren’t women and babies designed to bond spontaneously after birth?

So why aren’t women and babies designed to bond spontaneously after birth?

Nearly all attachment parenting advocates are natural childbirth advocates, too. That makes the riddle at the heart of attachment parenting even more surprising. The same people who insist that birth happens naturally then turn around and claim that bonding does NOT happen naturally. It must be prodded and controlled in a series of ritualized behaviors (skin to skin at birth, breastfeeding only, baby wearing) otherwise children will presumably end up “detached.”

Why can childbirth be trusted to happen spontaneously, but bonding be considered an imminent disaster aveted only if you do exactly what the attachment parenting experts tell you to do?

Ironically, given that attachment parenting is promoted as “natural,” the idea that maternal-infant attachment occurs naturally, that mother and child might love each other simply because they belong to each other, is rejected out of hand, Instead, specific practices must be employed and mothers must be taught these practices by an army of experts including parenting gurus, midwives, doulas and lactation consultants, among others.

As Charlotte Faircloth notes in the essay The Problem of ‘Attachment’: the ‘Detached’ Parent in the book Parenting Culture Studies:

It hardly seems controversial to say that, today, we have a cultural concern with how ‘attached’ parents are to their children. Midwives encourage mothers to try ‘skin-to-skin’ contact with their babies to improve ‘bonding’ after childbirth, a wealth of experts advocate ‘natural’ parenting styles which encourage ‘attachment’ with infants…

Previously a mother’s love for her child had been romanticized and ascribed to inherent characteristics of women, mother love has now been medicalized, requiring participation in rituals prescribed by experts.

As I’ve noted before, attachment parenting is not based on attachment theory, which tells us that the “good enough” mother is all that any child needs. So where did it come from? It certainly did not come from an epidemic of “detached” children. Until recently it was accepted as obvious that children remained unattached only in the most severe cases of abuse and neglect.

It came not from the study of humans, but of non-primate animals. Animals like ducklings had been shown to “imprint” on whatever caretaker they saw first during an “attachment window.” Attachment parenting theorists simply extrapolated, theorizing that infants “bonded” to their mothers during an attachment window around birth.

Faircloth explains:

Initially, the focus was on the critical period immediately after birth, though this later expanded to the period around birth as a whole. The argument was that a child’s first hours, weeks, and months of life had a lasting impact on the entire course of the child’s development. Birth, in particular, was singled out as one of the ‘critical moments’ for bonding to take place. After birth, new mothers were told to look into the eyes of their infant, hold their naked child, preferably with skin-to-skin contact, and breastfeed for optimal bonding…

From the outset, successful bonding thus required both a set of behaviours that maintained proximity with one’s child and an emotional bond …

This belief is the result of the medicalizing and the pathologizing of bonding.

…[C]oncern with detachment as part of a broader trend in the twentieth century towards the medicalization of parenthood: in particular, the medicalization of maternal emotion and mother love itself. Where, for example, mothers’ love was promoted and idealized in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as an extension of women’s inherent virtue, during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, maternal emotion came under much greater scrutiny … Mothers’ own ‘instincts’ were increasingly considered inferior to the findings of experts, who based their guidance to mothers on a more rational account as to what promoted the emotional well-being of children.

It’s rather surprising considering that natural childbirth advocates rail again the medicalizing and pathologizing of birth.

But then natural parenting is, in large part, about looking at the medical evidence and then rejecting it. This defiance of authority is lauded as transgressive and empowering. So if obstetricians point out that childbirth is inherently dangerous, natural childbirth advocates insist that it is safe. If psychologists point out that maternal child bonding happens spontaneously as long as the mother is not abusive or neglectful, attachment parenting advocates insist that it is contingent. It will not occur unless women follow a formalized set of behaviors prescribed by attachment parenting advocates.

The truth is that bonding is not contingent and does happen spontaneously (as any father or adoptive parent could tell you). It does not depend on a formalized set of behaviors; indeed, it has NOTHING to do with those behaviors at all (as anyone who has adopted a child beyond infancy can tell you).

There’s nothing wrong or harmful about the behaviors prescribed by attachment parenting gurus if (and it’s a big “if’) that’s what works best for you, your child and your family. But they are not in any way required for bonding. As a general matter, bonding happens spontaneously when you put a mother and her child together. It does not depend on specific rituals; it arises from mutual love and need.

Vitually all children will bond to their mothers in the absence of abuse or neglect. Unfortunately, attachment parenting gurus have medicalized and pathologized bonding. They promote a fear based view of bonding, hinting at dire consequences if you don’t follow their advice. And that leads to a lot of unnecessary guilt on the part of mothers who did not or could not follow attachment parenting prescriptions.

Considering the close association between attachment parenting and natural childbirth, it’s ironic, isn’t it?

  • Mushka Shebrushka

    Don’t forget that natural parenting followers continue with the whole
    concept beyond birth and baby years. I know a family very fond of
    natural parenting all sorts of ajurvedic and yogic practices, like
    feeding children with “pure” food, letting them do what they want to do
    from early childhood and serving their children as some form of gods. As
    a result their youngest have been taken out of the nursery, since
    “institutions are violent to children”, later he changed 3 different
    schools since simple rules and not being the center of Universe came to
    that little boy as a shocking and traumatizing experience. Both
    “naturally parented” kids find it extremely hard to communicate with
    their peers, they lack independence, can hardly stay away from their
    “helicopter” mother for longer than a few hours. The simple truth is
    that kids who grow up when their parents whisper every time their baby
    sleeps, offer them 15 different food options and run to the shop in the
    middle of the night if their “darling” wants some biscuits, never learn
    to respect their parents in the first place. These “natural parents”,
    forget that from nature’s perspective humans are social animals, where
    hierarchy plays a vital role. Children need to feel their parents are
    “superior” in a way that they know what to do, they can teach them and
    they can put a stop to disorder should it occur. If a parent is ever
    doubting their authority, doesn’t know and asks you as a toddler every
    time to make decisions, lets you change your mind thousand times over
    what you are having for dinner, soothes every tantrum with a motto “a
    child shouldn’t cry”, the paradox is – you don’t feel safe. I work in
    school and I see kids who lack self-control, kids who don’t know what
    they want because their parents were so afraid to tell them off or be
    firm when necessary. “Natural parents” also forget that in nature
    parents teach their offspring what is good and what is bad in order to
    protect them and make them fit for life. And “natural parents” forget
    that real Nature is competitive, harsh and merciless. And if your
    “darling” is used to overflowing love and approval no matter what,
    sleeping in your bed till they are teenagers how will they step out and
    be resilient among 7 billion other “perfect darlings”? I have a
    suspicion “natural parenting” followers don’t know much about nature.

  • StephanieA

    I may have shared this before, but anytime someone tries to bring up the importance of attachment parenting, I tell them about my sister. My parents adopted her from China when she was 9 months. She was abandoned at 2 weeks old, and had a few different caregivers in the orphanage. She cried a ton when her caregiver gave her to my parents, but she bonded with them very quickly. Here is a kid who was formula fed, left in a box on a road, cared for by multiple women, who is very much bonded to my parents who missed her first 9 months (my mom is pretty much her idol).

    • Brix

      What a beautiful love story. More proof that family is about so much more than blood. Thank you for posting this. I needed reminding.

  • Anna

    Attachment parenting/NCB is a cult, it’s just that the religious part is missing. But everything else… The idea of some “secret knowledge”, agressive methods of spreading the “truth”, supression of rational thinking, books and gatherings, separation from the outer world, informal leaders (Ina May Gaskin etc), symbols and rituals (burial of placenta, postpartum rituals use of hypnosis, herbs and many other things). No logical thinking to be expected from them.

  • Bombshellrisa

    Yay! Maybe Beard Papa then, since it’s closer to you. I saw the forecast for you guys and I hoped you would have baby Bugsy before the downpour hit, especially if you have to drive a ways. It’s a lovely place but labor+rain+traffic=Not so great if you have to get to the North shore.

    • Bugsy

      Ooooh, Beard Papa, yum! It looks like the weather’s been pretty nasty the past few days. Was kinda glad to be holed up in the hospital during the lousy parts of it!

  • Anna

    Congratulations for your baby’s birth,you sure had a beautiful and responsable birth plan.
    My two youngest sons were born via emergency c- sections and all that matters is having them alive and healthy with me and the’rest of the family.A great birth experience is one that end with the birth of a healthy son or daughter.

  • Bugsy

    OT: Baby Bugsy was born this morning at 39 weeks, 6 days. His labor generally was uneventful, although I was pretty looped up on laughing gas and gravol. Labor was preceded by an evening of vomiting and diarrhea, bleh. Weighed in at 8 lbs, 8 oz with a 4-hr labor from 3 – 10 cm and ten min of pushing.

    May ask for more anti-nausea meds sue to continued nausea. ;(. Other than that, just thankful he is here and doing well.

    • fiftyfifty1

      Congrats!!! So glad it was uneventful!

    • Dr Kitty

      Congratulations! Enjoy that new baby smell and all the sweet cuddles!

    • FrequentFlyer

      Congratulations!

    • Monkey Professor for a Head

      Congratulations!

    • crazy grad mama

      Congrats! And great birth plan.

    • PeggySue

      You didn’t… you didn’t… put a HAT on him, did you? (JOKING!) Seriously, congratulations to you all!!!!!!!

      • Bugsy

        Lol, he’s nursing in my arms sans hat right now…but that’s more because I fear the hat would suffocate him when he’s back sleeping in the bassinet!

    • Megan

      Congratulations! I love your birth plan too!

    • Bombshellrisa

      Welcome to the world Baby Bugsy!!! So happy for you guys!!
      ((I think you have earned something from Savory Island Pie Company, when you are feeling better of course)).

    • KeeperOfTheBooks

      Congrats, congrats, congrats, and yes, get thee some anti-nausea meds! That’s what hospitals are for: lots of awesome drugs! 😀

    • Who?

      Congratulations, hope all continues to go well.

    • Sue

      COngrats, and welcome to little Baby Bugsy!

    • Montserrat Blanco

      Congratulations!!! Welcome baby Bugsy!
      I am really glad it all went well.

    • Inmara

      Congratulations! Yay for healthy and happy baby! Take care of yourself!

    • Mazal tov!

    • demodocus

      Congrats! That was fast!

    • Glittercrush

      Happy birthday Baby Bugsy! Congratulations!

    • Amazed

      Welcome, Baby B! Happy birthday to you!

    • LizzieSt

      Congratulations! And yes, that is the best birth plan ever.

    • An Actual Attorney

      Congratulations!

      • mythsayer

        I have to tell you…I am so jealous of your username. I wish I’d thought of it myself… Pure genius.

    • moto_librarian

      Congratulation, Bugsy! So glad that baby and mom are doing well (although I hope the nausea passes quickly).

    • Medwife

      Uneventful and FAST! Congratulations! Wow, and a chunker too 😀

      • Bugsy

        Yep, a chunker all around. The last one was 2 lbs smaller, so having a big boy is a new thing for me. (He’s all cheeks!)

    • araikwao

      Hooray and congratulations!! Wishing you a fast recovery and a smooth transition to the new family dynamics!

    • Brix

      Congratulations!!!

  • niteseer

    I worked for 15 years in Mother/Baby nursing. I recall one adoptive mother who was determined to experience as much of the birth experience as possible. After the baby was born, mother lay in a bed in the hospital room, the baby was placed skin to skin, she roomed in with it, and, since she had spent months inducing lactation, she breastfed the baby immediately and exclusively.

    All was happiness and peace until she noticed, on day 2, that the baby was becoming darker and darker. Turns out, the teen mom had either lied or been mistaken about the father, and the child was biracial. The baby was brought back to the nursery quick enough to make your head spin, and the adoption was cancelled. The baby went to a foster home the next day until another (hopefully permanent) adoptive home could be found.

    Aside from feeling great sympathy for the baby at being rejected, my other thought was, “so much for all this early bonding crap”.

    • Dr Kitty

      That’s…horrible.

      I don’t know how you could plan for a baby, hold it, nurse it, name it, cuddle it and then go “I ordered a white one, back you go”. I could *maybe* understand if it was a life limiting illness or major disability, but rejecting a biracial child for being biracial, once you’ve actually held and loved and cuddled them…yuck.

      That is the whole effing point of parenthood: unconditional love for your children no matter what.

      • FEDUP MD

        Dear God. I have thought about adoption. The race of the baby never crossed my mind to matter at all.

        • AirPlant

          My husband is Asian and I am white, so I have put some thought into what it will be like to raise mixed race children as a white person, and honestly the thought process begins in ends with “their hair will for sure be better than mine” and “I should probably let my husband do the heavy lifting if they have questions.” I mean, it will be weird having kids that can tan? There are no brunettes in my family so that will be a first? I hope they look more like him because he totally has better bone structure?

          I feel like race relations in America being what they are race is something that you should think about, but don’t return the freaking baby.

          • LizzieSt

            Hey; your family sounds like mine! I’m Asian and white (mother is Greek and father is from India). My mother is very light-skinned, my dad is rather dark, and I look like a tan, dark-haired white girl.
            My parents never talked much to me about race; It just wasn’t something that either interested or concerned them. I had to learn about it later from teachers, classmates, my own experiences. Which was interesting. My high school guidance counselor told me “You are not considered a minority.” So there’s that.
            Mixed families are much more common these days than when I was a kid. This is great! Whatever you and your husband do, it’s best to confront racial issues head-on, rather than sugar-coat them or sweep them under the rug.

          • Dinolindor

            My dad is from India too, and my mom is white. And ditto on the non-minority minority identity. It’s an odd feeling, and like you my parents never really talked much about race. My husband is also half Mexican, so our kids are pretty mixed, but we live in an area that is not exactly diverse. When my dark dad and so-white-she’s-pink mom came to my son’s school event there were a lot of attempts to disguise the surprise from the adults. Now tell me that’s the experience of the majority…

          • AirPlant

            Ever since my wedding I have gotten every single well intentioned open minded person telling me about my duty to produce gorgeous mixed babies. That is apparently my new normal. Unsolicited commentary about how hot my baby is going to be.

          • Monkey Professor for a Head

            Same here! And so many people seemed to think our child would be red haired – never mind that it totally recessive and my hair colour is out of a box anyway! Although funnily enough my sons name (Rohan) does mean “red haired” in Gaelic 🙂

          • Nick Sanders

            The important question is how well he’ll be able to ride a horse.

          • Monkey Professor for a Head

            When he’s older we’ll show him the movies and tell him that it’s named after him. 🙂

          • demodocus

            What a silly thing to say

          • Brix

            Ditto.

          • LizzieSt

            We’re in our own little minority that’s not very visible, or much discussed. My husband wrote his Master’s thesis on ethnic identities – it’s one of his pet interests. Sometimes I think he only married me so he could have a permanent case study on hand. 🙂

          • Dinolindor

            It’s probably why I did my masters thesis on hybrid culture/art in medieval Spain (the multicultural aspect, we don’t have Spanish heritage). My parents are in the bio sciences and so always lovingly called us hybrids, but that was the extent of any talk about race.

          • AirPlant

            I have had friends tell me that it is racist to even think about what race will mean to my family, and maybe as a white lady there is something that I am missing, but not talking about race doesn’t make it go away, and there is a real possibility that my children will have to deal with things that I never did because of my choice. I can’t do much to make things easier, but I can make sure that their first conversations about race don’t come from playground bullies. Not talking about these difficult things is a privilege, and acting to an ideal world doesn’t take away the world my children will grow up in.

            I sort of secret hope that I am overreacting, and having an east coast liberal moment, but I really want to do this right and in so many ways I am not equipped to give them a perfect package of talk and understanding to tell them what their lives and challenges will be. My wonderful husband will have to take the heavy lifting on this one and I suppose I will take the heavy lifting on other things and we will muddle through.

          • LizzieSt

            Someone told you that it’s racist to think about what race will mean to your family? They’re wrong. Also that is one of the silliest things I’ve ever heard. The “we should all just be colorblind/race doesn’t matter” mindset may be well-intentioned, but it’s a willful denial of reality. Racism exists among east coast lefties (I am also in that milieu) too. It just takes subtler forms.

            The best thing to do may be to talk about these issues with your husband; I’m sure he has some thoughts on the subject, and how he wants to handle it with your children one day. The more discussion, the better! If you would prefer for your husband to take the lead on racial issues, that’s fine. But don’t let anyone tell you that it’s racist or wrong for you to grapple with them, too. You’re all in this together. That’s what being a family is all about!

          • Brix

            Amen! ESPECIALLY with regard to “color blindness”.

          • Monkey Professor for a Head

            My husband is Indian and I’m white (Irish), and I’ve definitely thought about how his race will affect our son. Ill be following my husbands lead on this since he has lived it and I haven’t, but there will be times when I might have to deal it (for example if he comes home in tears having been bullied and his dad is working late.) In a perfect world it wouldn’t matter, but that’s not the world we live in.

            I do also think about how we’ll teach him about his cultural heritage from both sides – further complicated by the fact that we live in a third country (Australia). We’ll probably make it up as we go along!

          • Adelaide

            I’m white and hubby is Indian. We have a bunch of kids. Trust me your kids will be gorgeous. They will look like you both in ways you can’t predict. You’ll have years before your kids are even aware of their different skin color. When the time comes, you both will handle it well, because you will know your children and you will have years of experience as a multiracial couple. Best of luck to you.

          • Sue

            Thankfully, Australia now seems to be more accepting of the rainbow of humanity. When I was a child, we children of post-war migrants wanted to mimimise our differences, and our home-made lunch was drided for being “smelly”. These days, our kids seem to take more pride in having diverse cultural backgrounds and foods.

            Having said that, though, there;s still stuff like this, just like in the US:
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWynJkN5HbQ

          • Brix

            I’m mixed, black/white (to simplify it), and my husband is Greek/Italian. If you teach your children about all parts of his/her heritage and teach them to be proud of all of the pieces that make them who they are, it will go a long way towards instilling in them the confidence they will need to stand proud and strong in the face of anyone. It worked for me.

          • Bombshellrisa

            I am Asian Jewish-I got the more Asian looks, but I have curly hair. Not one person has ever gotten it right when they want to guess my race.
            When I was growing up, I was one of the only mixed kids in the school. I felt ugly and different. Now it’s pretty common and it’s even considered pretty cool to be mixed,

          • FEDUP MD

            Well yeah, of course, it would be stupid to presume race doesn’t matter, because it does in society. Acting like your minority kid is white is going to cause lots of problems. What seems weird to me is that you would just decide, nope, only white babies here, and GIVE the kid BACK like they got your restaurant order wrong.

        • demodocus

          My spouse and I have talked about adopting, but we never even considered race, except that it might be easier to adopt from Asia or Latin America. One of his cousins was adopted from Korea, and my favorite grandparent is bi-racial. Mostly, we were thinking “blind kid” because they’re hard to find parents for and we’re already set up for blind adult.

          • Eater of Worlds

            I’d love to adopt a deaf kid but that’s hard to find in the US through foster care adoptions.

    • KeeperOfTheBooks

      What the freaking hell????
      That poor kid. I hope baby found a wonderful, loving, permanent home ASAP.
      Though I suppose it’s better for “mom” to give him up that early than hold his race against him all his life, but…what the hell?

    • Who?

      Hate to say it, but lucky for baby the mother’s so very conditional love was spotted nice and early. Imagine if baby had been older and had some other attribute adopter didn’t approve of.

      She wanted an accessory, not a child.

      • T.

        Exactly. Image if the baby would have ended up, say, homosexual.
        Some people. Really.

      • Sue

        That’s what I was thinking – if she tripped up at the first step, probably best not to risk all the others.

    • AirPlant

      How do you even have that conversation with the social worker? With the birth mother? “Sorry, this kid isn’t working for me, I would like to make a return or exchange”

      • mythsayer

        Honestly, after doing that, that “mother” (to be) should be black listed from ever adopting. It’s one thing to say you’d like to adopt a child of your own race (it’s better if you just adopt healthy but I can at least understand)…but to give back a child…that’s just…beyond wrong. That means you’ve admitted straight up that your love has limitations. And I don’t want someone with limitations like that raising a child. If they have their own…well I can’t do anything about that. But we can sure do something about people like her. But apparently racism is okay in situations like this.

        And to be fair, I’m not saying she should have been forced to keep the baby. No…she should have the choice to be racist. And we should then get the choice of refusing her later adoption requests.

        I pray that baby was adopted into a loving home.

        • Angharad

          I can’t even process this. I just keep thinking “who DOES that?!” And ditto the hope that the baby found a loving permanent home (I understand it’s usually not hard for healthy newborns).

    • demodocus

      That is horrible. If my passenger turns out to have the wrong dna (just barely possible that the Clinic had an accidental slip up during the petrie dish stage) we’re keeping him/her. And I don’t really bond during pregnancy. Wouldn’t be the first kid in our circle with different DNA than the rest of the family!

      • Bugsy

        I’ve always had the same sentiment/thoughts regarding our ivf pregnancies. Kiddo #1 was the spitting image of daddy at birth, and it wasn’t until his hair grew in blond during his first year that you could see mommy had any influence on his genes. This little guy just looks like his own little person (helping that he’s two pounds heavier than his brother!)…we see his brother in some of his expressions, but otherwise can’t get past his chubby cheeks to determine which of us he looks like. Accidental slip-up or not, he’s our little man.

      • StephanieA

        I’m glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t bond during pregnancy. I hear women gush about how much they love their fetuses, and I’m just like, meh. I’m protective of him (we know it’s a boy) when my 2 year old tries to jump on me, but I don’t have any strong feelings of love for him yet. My husband and I joke about this because we know it’s okay, and we know we will love him immensely when he’s born, just like his brother (we both recently admitted that we didn’t bond immediately with our son, and my husband was so relieved. It took me a day to feel it, my husband said his was gradual). I hope this doesn’t make us sound awful, haha.

        • Amy M

          Not at all. It took a couple months for me to feel a real connection with my babies, and I think that a fairly sizable number of parents have the same situation. I knew they were mine and felt responsible and protective, but it wasn’t until they started smiling and responding to us that I really felt that overwhelming love.

        • demodocus

          lol, yeah, mine was gradual as well. My husband was in love from about implant. He almost cried when he learned one of the embryos disappeared.

        • Allie P

          I was in love with the second one, but not the first. I chalk that up to having already had the experience of being a mom the second time around and better being able to imagine what was in store.

        • Mushka Shebrushka

          I couldn’t agree more! I am pregnant now and actually stop myself from being “sentimentally bonded” to my fetus. I tell my partner – “he is not a baby yet, he has to withstand the survival of the fittest test first”. I believe in nature, not “natural parenting”. And in nature things are harsh and simple – journey to life is a difficult one.

    • Megan

      As an adoptee, this disgusts me. And reminds me of the story about how when I was first born, my hair was so dark my grandmother was terrified my mom had been “given a Mexican baby.” Thank God mom didn’t give me back over that. And wouldn’t you know, all that dark dark hair fell out only to be replaced by white blond hair. You just never know what your kidd will look like and it’s such a stupid reason to give back a child. I feel bad for this baby but at the same time am glad that baby will get a chance with a mother who isnt a complete asshole.

      • Kerlyssa

        When me and my sister were born, my mom went around checking the other babies in the hospital to see if my sister had been switched accidentally with a filipina woman’s baby. Took almost 20 years for the family resemblance to show up with her. Genetics is weird.

      • The Computer Ate My Nym

        Apparently, my parents wondered about me for the exact opposite reason: My dark haired, mixed race mother looked at this pale, blue eyed, hairless baby and wondered whose baby I really was. My father reassured her that I was the right one and he knew because he’d checked the tags…which means he wasn’t sure either. Sigh. Oh, well, they kept me anyway. I eventually ended up looking more or less like my paternal grandmother, who is also the “changeling” of her family. Genetics. Who knows?

    • Medwife

      That is a heartbreaking story.

  • Sue

    Here’s what I don’t get: if we are perfectly adapted to unassisted childbirth and bonding by baby-wearing, why aren’t we perfectly adapted to transport and communication?

    I suggest that this attitude requires walking everywhere and communicating by talking only – no cars, planes or buses, no cell phones and definitely no internet.

    No cloth diapers – we are perfected adapted to eliminating on the ground – not to collecting it in woven, bleached cotton.

    No cutlery – we are perfectly adapted to picking up food with our beautifully-designed opposing thumbs.

    Otherwise, massive hypocrisy.

    • Who?

      And indeed, if we’re perfectly adapted to childbirth and breastfeeding, why do we need midwives, lactation consultants and piles of baby wearing gear-surely we can manage all that without paid help?

      • Sue

        Exactly!

  • carovee

    The other puzzle is that mothers and babies need constant attachment to bond, but fathers and babies? Are babies not bonded to fathers? Or is it just so much easier to bond to one’s father? The whole thing just smacks of the worst kind of knee jerk gender essentialism.

  • Barbara Delaney

    Off topic, I apologize, but Jessa Duggar was taken by ambulance to the hospital Thursday night after attempting a home birth. The Duggar family is keeping details under wraps but what is known suggests that Jessa remains in the hospital while the baby is home with dad and grandma. I’ve read rumors of PPH, severe tearing, the baby weighed 10lbs. 11oz., etc. Who knows?

    Again, apologies.

    • Azuran

      The big question: Was Jill the midwife?

      • demodocus

        Ick, I can’t even stand the idea of my friend’s ob/gyn husband catch my baby, let alone my sister.

      • mythsayer

        Jill is supposedly in Central America… unless she secretly came back again. But she and Derek have been catching heat for only staying there for like 4 weeks at a time. They didn’t really “move” there. They are more like on several extended vacations. And who goes on a mission trip to a country that is already mostly the same religion you are? I call shenanigans on them… I think they just wanted away from the rest of the family.

        • Barbara Delaney

          Earlier today I posted this comment on Christianity Today;

          The Duggar tribe may act unworldly and naive on the show. But it’s an act. They are very aware of the financial implications if TLC would abandon them. They’ve been taught well by their parents how to turn on the sincerity and smiles, to quote the Bible and gaze adoringly at their menfolk. It’s no more genuine than believing that the actors in The Lord of the Rings return to their hobbit homes in the Shire at the end of the day. One has only to look at the sorry history of incestuous abuse, adultery, pornography addiction, persecution of LGBT people, anti-Catholicism, lies about missionary qualifications, etc. to see this is a deeply troubled family. It’s past time for the Duggar family to face their own demons away from the lights of television. For their own benefit as well as for the public good the Duggar family must go.

        • demodocus

          The Baptist church I attended as a kid for a little while sent missionaries to Iceland. Icelanders practice the *wrong* form of Christianity, apparently.

          • Gene

            When I was a kid in Texas, our Baptist church was planning a mission trip to Canada to “convert the heathen Catholics”. Yeah, my family left that church ASAP.

            My mother was raised southern baptist and this is her favorite joke: My favorite joke is about the guy who gets to heaven and St. Peter is showing him around. The two of them began walking down a long hallway, and they came to a door. Peter opened the door and they heard all of these people singing hymns, and Peter said to the guy, “Oh, here are all the Methodists.” Then they walked on a little further, and came to another door, and opened it, and saw a bunch of people dressed up and the strong smell of incense, and Peter said, “Oh, here are all the Episcopalians.” They walked on, and came to another door, and opened it, and saw a bunch of people shouting and jumping up and down, and Peter said, “Oh, here are all the Pentecostals.” But then they walked near another door, only this time, instead of opening it, Peter said to the guy, “Ssshhhh, we have to be quiet. Those are the Baptists in there, and they think they’re the only ones up here!”

          • demodocus

            Actually, I don’t know. My sister and I were going with a friend to her church because we could no longer get to our Congregationalist church and we were young enough to miss it.

          • LizzieSt

            Well, someone has to convert those heathen Icelandic Lutherans, obviously! 😉
            My husband is a Lutheran and I’m Episcopalian. So we’re both apostates in need of saving by the Duggars.

          • demodocus

            My husband was raised Baptist and now identifies Lutheran. The horror!!

          • mythsayer

            I’m basically agnostic…I accept there’s something else out there but I certainly don’t believe in any sort of deity. So I’m basically going to hell for sure according to them. I accept Jesus as a man and historical figure. I’m a heathen, for sure. They’d be tripping over themselves to save me. And I’d be running very, very fast, even if it meant I was running towards flowing lava.

          • mythsayer

            But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t talk to them. If they could have a fairly normal conversation, if stick around. As soon as they started in on tracts and church and bible reading I’d be politely excusing myself. And if they followed and kept at it, then I’d run.

          • mythsayer

            Everyone does according to Gothardites. Bill Gothard’s religion allows sexual abuse and the duggars are cool with that, but god forbid you have premarital sex. Or get an education. Or work outside the home. Or use family planning methods, including natural ones. No, that’s all wrong and Bill Gothard is right. Scary. Scary. Scary.

          • demodocus

            Yup. Thankfully, my pastor is so liberal she’s practically a socialist. She’s easily as left as many Republicans think Pres. Obama is.

      • Barbara Delaney

        No, Jill was photographed multiple times giving Jessa her prenatal check-ups but Jill returned to Guatemala to continue filming her special. I wonder with the size of that infant if Jessa might have had gestational diabetes? With Jill providing substandard prenatal care it’s a fairly safe assumption that her blood sugar wasn’t monitored.

        Over 600 sponsors have committed to not advertising on the specials.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      See? A great success story.

      They all got to the hospital on time, nobody died. Take THAT all you homebirth haters!

      • Barbara Delaney

        This photo was clearly taken in the hospital. The Duggar loyalists are now claiming that Jessa in fact had a successful home birth. You be the judge.

        • Dr Kitty

          Black and white…
          I’m guessing to hide bruising on the baby’s face (which looks quite dark) and her pallor.

          • mythsayer

            I can’t post the pic right now, but if you look at this webpage (daily mail, sorry) you’ll see a picture of the baby that looks like it was taken at home (look at the tile floor and towel wrapped around him). I only saw my daughter for 10 seconds after my CS and not again for another hour so I don’t know what babies are supposed to look like shortly after birth (I mean I know blue and grey are bad of course, so I’m not sure how normal he looks. Doesn’t look right to me, but I’m super far from even being remotely knowledgeable about newborns.

            http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-3306390/Ambulance-called-Jessa-Duggar-s-suffers-complications-home-birth.html

          • mythsayer

            And again…keep in mind I know pretty much nothing about newborns other than what I learned in order to keep my daughter alive, but….does jessa’s baby look traumatized to anyone? I’m sure newborns can’t really look traumatized…but I swear he does. Like he just went through the worst experience ever.

          • Dr Kitty

            Big baby compared to her first. A caput and moulding (cone head) but not as bruised as I feared.

          • Barbara Delaney

            This is her first. I know you need a scorecard to keep the identities of these goofy women straight but this is Jessa that just gave birth.

            When Michelle Duggar made the 911 call for an ambulance she could not remember Jessa’s age. Jessa had celebrated her birthday just the day before. Her mother still got it wrong, she made her a year older.

            Michelle made an attempt to sound knowledgeable and took her best shot at speaking medicalese. Of course TLC’s cameras were rolling throughout and they portray these home births as perfectly safe, far better in fact than the cold, sterile hospital environment.

            What could be better than being born into the loving embrace of a family that doesn’t even know how old the woman giving birth is? That kid ought to do a breast crawl right on out of the family compound.

          • mythsayer

            If it had been Jill again…dear god. It would’ve probably been an UBA1C. Unless she was smart enough to hire a midwife…but why? She’s a fake midwife herself of course. I pray that when Jill does have another that she just goes to the hospital. I also pray that she allows the number of children she pops out to be limited because of that c-section. I fear if she just keeps going that she’ll eventually rupture….

          • PeggySue

            Well, to be fair, it probably was a bit of a scary situation, and I can’t fault her for fluffing the age. At least they knew enough to call for help. I was struck, never having seen the show, with what sounded like a childlike quality to Michelle’s voice, high-pitched and singsong. Then, she may have been trying to help others stay calm. I hope Mom and baby will be OK. That’s a big baby, no?

          • sony2282

            He looks pretty bruised and swollen not the worst I’ve ever seen though. My question is WHERE IS HIS HAT!! In all the pictures they have posted he has no hat on! He looks fairly new, his mom is in an ambulance to the hospital and his wet head is exposed. He would get cold very easily in that situation especially if we can assume he was not nursed before the ambulance came and you know they weren’t giving him a bottle at home! How long did he go before he ate and was warm!? Questions from an L&D nurse…Another thought- why do they always say that homebirth is safe and they can handle any situation and then call for help!? If it’s so safe and her midwife can handle any emergency, what does an ambulance or hospital have that they don’t!? Facetious question of course…
            And if she had been in the hospital from the get-go, chances are she would have lost half the amount of blood she did at home and PPH wouldn’t have even been mentioned. She would have been one of those patients that we pass off in report that “she bled a little heavier than normal, gave her some extra pitocin and methergine and she’s nursing and resting with her baby.” end of story

          • mythsayer

            Yeah he’s definitely not scary looking like others we’ve seen that are straight up blue and purple. But I thought same as you…kinda swollen and possibly bruised.

    • mythsayer

      I just KNEW she was going to have problems. I don’t know why I knew it but I did. At least she eventually went… I’d been checking up on her everyday (I have a bizarre Duggar obsession right now… they are such train wrecks…)

  • LizzieSt

    The demands that attachment parenting places on mothers have been very much on my mind lately. Especially since I heard this story on NPR last Sunday:

    http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/11/01/453618924/know-the-signs-for-some-post-pregnancy-is-anything-but-magical

    This story has more red flags than a Soviet military parade. Red flag #1: The mother expected birth to be “magical, wonderful, and beautiful experience.” Red flag #2: She was surprised that the birth was actually traumatic and painful. Red flag #3: She and her husband refused all family help, and she was left completely alone to care for the baby even though Red flag #4: she was feeling empty and depressed from the trauma of the birth, to the point of having trouble feeling love for the baby. And her husband wasn’t much help because Red flag #5: He took a week of work for the birth, but was very detached and didn’t realize anything was wrong, even when she pleaded with him to stay at home with her and the baby. Until finally Red Flag #Hey, is it Yuri Gagarin’s birthday in here or something? She began to contemplate suicide. Luckily, this is when she realized that she needed help and found her way to a psychiatrist. The family learns from the experience, and the story has a happy ending.

    I was yelling at the radio while this was going on, mostly out of unreasonable fear. The mother is a social worker – JUST LIKE ME! And her husband is from Germany. JUST LIKE MINE!

    Then I calmed down and thought about it. And the more I thought, the angrier I became. This is the central reason that I can’t stand the dogmatism of natural childbirth and attachment parenting. It puts an incredible burden on women. It sets us up for great accomplishments: “Beautiful natural childbirth!” “Easy, blissful breastfeeding!” “Perfect mother-baby bonding!” and then leaves us cold, with no coping mechanisms, if we should “fail” to reach these goals (which, being human beings, many of us necessarily will). Well, I’ve had enough of it! I’m tired of watching women feel pain and shame because they can’t live up to this ridiculous dogma. Perhaps it’s time to take away all copies of Dr. Sears’ books and replace then with Winnicott (he of the Good-Enough Mother) and the Stoic philosophers. That would be a good start.

    • nomofear

      A Facebook friend shared that post below. Thanks to time spent here, I was able to critically look at it. I pointed out that it was a flawed experiment to start with – how do we know her kids weren’t looking up because they felt her gaze and wondered what she was doing – and then said we should also beware mom guilt. If it’s not phones, it’s cooking, cleaning, a book, TV – and, kids don’t need our attention every second of the day. Besides that it’s pretty asinine to think that your kid would think you don’t love him because you weren’t staring at him play all the time.

  • Christina

    “Instead, specific practices must be employed and mothers must be taught these practices by an army of experts including parenting gurus, midwives, doulas and lactation consultants, among others.” I really take an issue with this growing practice – people seemingly seeking to take advantage of other people for profit in order to teach them specific ‘skills’. I chose to breastfeed my son and we were lucky that breastfeeding came easy to us. At some point though I had a very specific issue I needed help and guidance with, so I decided to call an ‘expert’ and got a lactation consultant to come to our house when baby was 2 weeks old. Boy, was that $200 of our hard earned money down the drain! Not only did I not get help with my very specific issue, it quickly became obvious that the ‘expert’ had no idea how to help me with my problem and instead tried to shift the focus of the appointment to other issues (e.g. weight gain, latching positions, swaddling etc. which I did not need help with in the first place – my son was ‘getting enough’ and his weight check at his pediatric check up had confirmed that). Fast forward several weeks later, I’m trying to master babywearing. Not because I subscribe to the attachment parenting theory, but because my son is getting heavier for me to carry around in my arms and I feel like a baby carrier might help, plus it might allow me to have free hands and do other stuff at the same time. Lo and behold, those baby carriers need practice and specific skills and are not as easy to master as online tutorials seem to imply. I made the mistake of posting a question on a babywearing support group’s page on Facebook and was quickly inundated by offers from ‘babywearing educators’ who were willing to help me for a hefty price (and they even left me a choice of either meeting them at one of their – cheaper – sessions at local baby boutiques or them coming to my house for a – more expensive – private session). But I’ve decided not to go down that route again. I feel those people should be ashamed for taking advantage of new mothers in their desperate times.

    • Kelly

      I can’t believe that they would charge you to figure out how to use a carrier. I have never head of that. That is crazy.

      • Christina

        Oh yes, you’d be surprised. It’s becoming more and more widespread, especially in big cities. Google babywearing classes, babywearing educators etc.and you’ll get a ton of hits. Not just that, but there are now certifications available for babywearing educators offered by other ‘certified educators’. Classes to become a certified educator for babywearing cost in the hundreds of dollars. Not making this up. Crooks fooling those who are naive enough to buy into their classes, who in turn become crooks themselves trying to make money out of other people naive enough to buy into their services. Where does it all end? Dr Amy is absolutely right in that there are lucrative industries built on pseudoscience of all kinds.

        • Angharad

          Even the slings can easily run in the hundreds of dollars. I wanted one for my daughter when she was tiny because she liked being tilted back and they’re aesthetically pleasing, but I ended up going with a $35 ergo knock-off. No training required and it freed up my hands.

        • Kelly

          It sounds like another thing that is supposed to be “natural” that they made so hard that you have to pay someone to help you “figure” it out. I am too cheap for that and I like strollers better. I just use the carrier for grocery trips and the plane.

      • Phoenix Fourleaf

        Seriously. I think it would be common sense to use a baby carrier that doesn’t require a lengthy tutorial. But I have known moms who are obsessed with elaborate baby wraps.

        • demodocus

          But hip dysplasia or something!

        • Inmara

          I asked during our prenatal classes why slings are superior to ergo carriers – the answer was somewhat reasonable, i.e. slings can be wrapped to accommodate every height, body shape and baby weight whereas carriers are not so adjustable. I ended up with a reasonably priced (around 80$) sling, one handling consultation (30 EUR) and never ever used that sling because once I tried to put baby close to my chest he started to seek for something to latch on but I didn’t have enough milk to keep nursing him between feeding sessions. So we are fine with a stroller and now he’s 3 months and more and more interested in surroundings – I’ll try to put him into front facing carrier soon to see if it can be used for quick outings instead of carseat.

          • demodocus

            The wraps do not accommodate my size. But fatties like me have not business having children anyway, amirite?

          • Megan

            “slings can be wrapped to accommodate every height, body shape and baby weight whereas carriers are not so adjustable”

            This was actually really true for me. I am super short (and DD was very small) and I actually was so much more comfortable using a wrap than a carrier. Also, most structured carriers just aren’t great as far as size and adjustability for young babies. I ended up stopping wrapping due to a shoulder injury and DD is now big enough for shopping carts, etc. but this next baby will probably be wrapped too just because it fits me much better and it will help me manage two kids at once! Then again, I’m also getting a double stroller so well see which one we like best once the little lady is big enough for this stroller.

    • SporkParade

      I’ve never quite understood why these are things that require support groups. Like, why do I need to spend an hour a week with strangers talking about feeding the baby? Why do I need to join a support group dedicated to carrying the baby in a baby carrier?

  • Fool on the Hill

    The “breast crawl” practice lauded by AP and NCB types is one that baffles me. So I get it that if you place a baby on it’s mother’s stomach it will crawl up to the breast, latch on and begin nursing. Fine. I’ve seen the videos and do not dispute it. But here’s the thing, so APers and NCBers intend us to believe that in “nature”, ie human birth neither in a hospital nor influenced by hospital practices, when a baby came out of its mother’s vagina, either the mother, if it was an UC or the birth attendant just placed the baby on it’s mother’s stomach and waited for it to crawl while mother’s arms hang uselessly by her sides and birth attendant just hangs out and watches? I’m not buying it. I think it is a universal instinct to immediately tend to the baby by picking it up, cuddling it, looking it over, etc. I think the practice of the breast crawl is another affectation.

    • AirPlant

      Now I have only watched maybe three breast crawl videos out of morbid curiosity, but for all the world it looked like they put the baby in between mom’s boobs and the baby would wiggle essentially at random and eventually a nipple would be in latching distance and the baby would be like shrug, why not. Am I missing something? I did not see any intentionality and I left so confused.

      • yentavegan

        I have seen footage where the infant is placed just above the pubis and is made to crawl his way up to the breasts 40 plus minutes of torture IMO.

        • Sue

          PICK THAT BABY UP!

          WHen they start solids, do they put the baby’s food at the other end of the corridor and wait for them to crawl to it?

          • Isilzha

            Two crawlers, one bowl of food. It’s survival of the fittest here in the Playdome!

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Vegas is placing odds….

          • Barbara Delaney

            Two babies enter, one baby leaves.

      • Barbara Delaney

        I had no idea there was something called a “breast crawl”. It sounds like an activity that MTV would have on their spring break coverage.

        This is so insane, I thought water births were the height of lunacy, but this is so far beyond the realm of garden variety stupidity and into abusive territory.

        • Who?

          It does have the advantage though, in this headspace, of putting mother at the centre of the entire thing, by enforcing an arbitrary, unnecessary and (at least) unkind rule.

          And how do people who say comfort at all costs is key to parenting suggest a newborn should crawl up mother’s body to latch first time? It’s like they can’t see or hear themselves.

    • yentavegan

      What kind of bitch makes her new born, hungry and exhausted from birth, crawl his way up to the warmth of her bosom? To prove what?

      • Azuran

        Kangaroos. And if the baby can’t make it, they let them to dry and die on the ground. Because Nature!!!

        • Sue

          Not even kangaroos – the teats are inside the pouch – tiny roos are almost permanently attached.

          • swbarnes2

            But the neonate kangaroos crawl from the vagina to the pouch. They are about an inch long and basically pink squishy fetuses with strong arms.

          • Sue

            Of course – you’re right. I forgot that primal journey to the teat.

  • Zoey

    My 5 year old spent his first 24 hours in the NICU, which is why he never bonded to me and now calls a plastic incubator “Mom.”

    Oh right, that never actually happened…

    • Mel

      I spent my first 15 days in an incubator and got 30 minutes of highly monitored holding on day 16.

      I am also happily bonded to my mom, dad, twin, brother, husband, brothers-in-laws, sisters-in-law and parents-in-law.

      Have I mentioned I also really like my practice nieces and nephews? They’re pretty nifty and I didn’t meet most of them until they were much older.

      Also, I like my colleagues and students. They’re nice folks as well.

      • Roadstergal

        And the dogs. The following-around-everywhere, cannot-recline-to-more-than-45-degrees-without-them-clambering-atop dogs. I must have breastfed them in my sleep?

        • namaste863

          How about my “Mom’s D cups are the best bed ever!”cat?

          • AirPlant

            How about my “Daddy’s nuts are the best place to rest my weary head” cat.

          • namaste863

            You win!

  • Amy M

    I also like the bit where the AP proponents tell us that AP is all about “following your instincts and being responsive to the child.” Which, I imagine, is what 99.9% of parents do (one might say “instinctively”). But if your instincts lead you to put the baby in its own sleeping space, or to use formula, or to sleep train…well, you are doing it wrong, and unnaturally.

    • AirPlant

      My instincts say “You are fine, I’m gonna keep looking at my phone.” They also say, “You mean I don’t have to have a tiny creature chew my nipples for a year? There are other options? Sweet! Team Formula!” Just me?

      • Amy M

        I have twins, so even if I’d wanted to, AP’ing would have been very difficult, if not impossible. There were (and still are) times where we have to be responsive to one of the children, while the other’s needs take second place. Despite sometimes having to wait a few minutes to be attended to, both children seem well “attached” to me, their father and lots of other people.

        I mean, what does “responsive” mean to AP’ers anyway? To me, it means 1)meeting the child’s basic needs (food, love, shelter), 2)comforting child when he is sad 3)helping child deal with conflicts and teaching him how to do so independently 4)respecting child as a person and teaching him that other people deserve respect. One doesn’t have to pick up a baby at the first whimper, or pop a breast in a toddler’s mouth whenever he’s upset to be responsive.

        • Azuran

          I wonder…Following AP methods and beliefs. If you AP twins at the same time (meaning you feed them together and ‘wear’ both all the time) wouldn’t it be possible for one of the twin to ‘imprint’ on the other twin and think of it as it’s mother?

          • Mel

            As a twin and a cousin of twins, I have to say “nope”. Twins come pre-bonded. You’ve spent 9 months (give or take) in very,very close quarters together.

          • Daleth

            No, because they can’t breastfeed off each other and without that… no bonding!

            Haha. Jk.

        • Daleth

          A friend of mine invited me to a “twin baby-wearing” class where you supposedly learned to baby-wear them both at the same time. I’m very petite and they were big sturdy 9-month-olds at that point so I was like, listen, they’re each almost half my height and the two of them together are like 40% of my weight… so NO. No. Let’s just not go there.

          Although I suppose after I tried it, a chiropractor could have sorted me out.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            I once had a particularly rabid type come up to me in the grocery store. DD hated being worn, and was (is) huge, while I’m very short. Because of all that, she was in her carseat and kicking up a fuss because a) she was a baby and b) she hated shopping.
            Obnoxious busybody: “Oh, poor baby! You should wear her, then she wouldn’t cry!”
            Me: “She hates being worn. Also, she’s so long that when I wear her, her face bangs into mine, and neither of us like that.”
            Her: “That’s no reason not to wear her! I wear my three-year-old on my hip all the time!”
            What I didn’t say: “Well, hauling 20+ pounds of wriggly kid around on one hip should throw my back out of whack enough to keep any physical therapist’s kids in college tuition for a few years.”

          • Roadstergal

            “I wear my three-year-old on my hip all the time!”

            I really can’t escape the mental image of her whipping out the three-year-old like a six-shooter in an Old West showdown.

          • Dr Kitty

            #1 hated all slings and carriers.
            #2 doesn’t mind, but at 10 weeks and 14lbs my back will not cope carrying him in a carrier.

            I’ve said it before: AP is ableist. Not everyone can baby wear or co sleep safely.

            Also, AP largely assumes one baby, with a mother who can spend 24/7 with it, and who has a good support network to look after older children and put food on the table. Not everyone is so lucky.

            I got a Nexplanon earlier this week, and the doc told me that one of their colleagues had just had healthy triplets at 35 weeks, which is amazing.
            They are not her first children.

            Good luck doing AP when you have five kids under three, with triplets!
            Actually, I think that should probably have been one of Dante’s circles of hell…

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Five kids…under three…triplets…
            I think I need a stiff drink just after READING that. And if I were mom? Sangria (erm, I mean mommy juice!) would be on-tap in the fridge.

          • Who?

            Known as ‘coping fluid’ or ‘vitamin W’ or in your case, ‘vitamin S’.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            I’ve mentioned the case locally of a friend of my wife’s who had 7 kids 4 and under. The oldest was 4, and the two sets of triplets.. She’s in a level lower

          • Daleth

            Omg holy shit. That’s all I can say to that. Wow.

          • Dr Kitty

            Nope.
            Just…nope.

          • Monkey Professor for a Head

            I wanted to like baby wearing, but I live in North Queensland and even in winter I found that baby wearing for any length of time outside made me a sweaty mess. Luckily my son loves the pram, and I love having a place to put him down when we’re out (as well as having a basket underneath for my groceries.

          • FEDUP MD

            My first kid HATED being worn. Second LOVED it (and still likes it at almost 2 on occasion, if we are someplace busy where strollers are a problem, like farms).

            Different kids, different personalities.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            DD has actually gotten a bit more tolerant of it as she’s gotten older. When on vacation last month, DH and I did a fair bit of hiking over terrain that would be pretty rough on little toddler legs, so I put her in a baby backpack. She seemed fairly pleased with being both held by mommy and being able to see the world around her, though I imagine a big part of that was that she was outside, and she loves the outdoors more than anything else.

          • Angharad

            What is it with those people? I used a baby carrier, a stroller, or my arms depending on the situation and I’ve been told plenty of times “I bet you wish you were wearing her!” Nobody’s ever told me “I bet you wish she was in a stroller!” And I’ve never felt the need to evangelize about any particular method of moving a baby from point A to point B.

          • Who?

            ‘Her’ hips won’t thank her in about 10 years time, or sooner perhaps…

          • Tiffany Aching

            My 7-months pregnant friend told me how she was gang-talked by some of her friends into buying a very expensive carrier because “studies have shown that baby who are worn become more confident”. Hmm, those studies must be flawlessly designed. The saddest part is that the ” study have shown” lady is a journalist at the AFP, which shows the level of incompetence of most journalists when it comes to scientific method.

          • Daleth

            If she doesn’t understand that “my baby hates being worn” isn’t an excellent reason not to do baby-wearing, she’s on crack.

          • nomofear

            Reading all of these is one of the few times I’m so happy to live in a smallish town in the deep south! The worst I hear is “you need to put some socks on that baby!”

          • Amy M

            Ha! That’s why I didn’t even try! The double snap-n-go was a most useful tool that first year.

        • guest

          I couldn’t even get comfortable wearing one twin, because while wearing one I would inevitable have to bend over to tend to the other, and doing that always made me feel like the other would fall out of the sling or carrier.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      I also like the bit where the AP proponents tell us that AP is all about “following your instincts and being responsive to the child.” Which, I imagine, is what 99.9% of parents do (one might say “instinctively”).

      Aside from the passive insult, add in the “Use your instincts, they are usually right. But only if they agree with mine”

  • crazy grad mama

    And yet the AP folks love to insist that they’re simply “following their instincts” and “being responsive to their child.” So there’s a double whammy of guilt if it’s not working for you: you’ve doomed your child to some terrible fate AND your instincts are broken.

    (Note: Many aspects of AP can be great if they work for your family. I’m referring to the parents who take it on as part of their identity, and those who preach about the dire consequences of doing it “wrong.”)

    • Amy M

      Jinx! I said exactly the same thing—-this particular AP thing drives me up the wall.

      • crazy grad mama

        It makes me so happy to be in a space where I’m not the only one who thinks this!

      • crazy grad mama

        Also, I love that we used the exact same quotations. It’s definitely a common AP talking point.

        • Amy M

          Absolutely. It’s very divisive—if being AP is being responsive, then not following AP tenets means you are ignoring your child, to his peril. And, like you said, that if your instincts were working, you would naturally conclude that AP was the right way to do things. So when a non-AP’er points out that she/he is responsive to her/his child, they’ll go off in a direction of “You are NOT following your instincts, you are doing what mainstream society has taught you. And mainstream practices, are, by definition, not responsive.”

    • AirPlant

      My goddaughter legitimately hated being held as a baby. She just wanted the wiggle blanket and colorful toys. All attempts to wear her or comfort feed her ended in rage screaming.
      For the record, she also wanted nothing to do with me until she hit three. I am super snuggly and she just wanted to be free. When we started being able to chat and hang out though it was like a switch went off and now she goes nuts whenever she sees me. Still won’t hug me, but you take what you can get.

      • crazy grad mama

        It’s almost like kids have different personalities and preferences… (Shocker, right?)

        My son tolerated being worn for the first six weeks, then decided that it was too confining and he’d rather be in the stroller where he could see interesting things. When he got old enough to be worn forward-facing, he found it more fun.

        • demodocus

          Yep. My kiddo liked being in the carrier, but not the wrap. Swaddling was EEEVVVVIIILLLL.

          • Mel

            The offspring in my extended family are known for learning how to lock all their limbs at an early age to avoid swaddling. Every now and again, you get an oddball who likes being swaddled, but most of us hated being swaddled.

            Of course, I also hated turtlenecks and my mom loves them. She swears one of my first purposeful movements was to yank down on the neck of the turtlenecked onesie she had me in. My response is “Yes. It was clearly – as all turtlenecks are – trying to suffocate me.”

          • Roadstergal

            Mitch Hedberg talked about the experience of wearing a turtleneck and a backpack being like an uncommitted midget trying to take you down.

            I grew up in Chicago and I still never came to tolerate turtlenecks.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            I think the line is, “…being strangled by a weak midget.”

            And ducks eat free at Subway. And I have an infestation of koalas in my apartment.

          • Roadstergal

            You really like Tide…

            Every time we go to Subway, it’s “They all want Sunchips!” Surely Subway is happier for us to think of that than Jared.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            “Don’t bother ringing it up, it’s for a duck!”

        • AirPlant

          I, on the other hand, was a perfect AP baby. According to my mother I wanted nothing more than to be held while nursing. Always. Like I would scream any time I wasn’t being held with a boob in my mouth. I strongly suspect that was a major contributing factor as to why I was weaned at four months.

        • KarenJJ

          My baby hated all baby carriers except the baby bjorn because she could freely kick her legs around. She hated anything that confined her movement after the first 8 weeks or so.

      • Mac Sherbert

        Oh yes, I had one like that. Would get so mad when I would try to distract her from whatever she was mad about with boob, juice,etc. Also, didn’t like anyone but me, brother and grandad until about three. Drove my DH crazy she wouldn’t let him rock her. The first one was so much easier. He would always be like “oh, a bottle (or juice cup). Cool. I love you. So happy now.” 🙂

      • Box of Salt

        I raised Explorer Baby first, who could not keep still from birth on – no baby wearing that one! (The Explorer’s younger sibling on the other hand did like being worn, and then I did it a lot.)

        Much of AP-style parenting did not work with Explorer Baby. In fact, little of anything written about parenting by anyone at all anywhere applied to Explorer Baby.

        I’d like to take this time now to thank Explorer Baby for breaking the rules of babyhood so quickly and so thoroughly and that I had no choice but reject other folk’s parenting philosophies and focus on what worked for *my* child.

        • FEDUP MD

          Yes, I had an Explorer Baby too. I got to really blow my AP acquaintances minds with him, because he hated baby wearing, cosleeping, and being held. He wanted to be on the floor playing even at 2 months old. He nursed only to be fed and then would scream if you tried to put him back on. He couldn’t be satisfied by anything other than what he really wanted. He self weaned at 10 months once he tried sippy cups.

      • Name

        My first was mostly happy whether being held or not and was usually easy to comfort. The second has wanted to be held 24 hours a day since birth and is now 20 months old. I had to buy a baby carrier when she was little just to get anything done. I also recently asked my friend with a moby wrap if a 24 pound 20 month old could still go in it. Sigh…I am not an AP mother and feel very suffocated by my youngest, but she can cry like her heart is breaking when I don’t pick her up and I can’t stand that either. I’m hoping she outgrows this “phase” soon. I feel like I am still stuck in the newborn stage except she sleeps through the night.

    • SporkParade

      Oh, I had someone flat-out tell me that I wasn’t responsive to my child because I sleep trained. Never mind that the sleep training process involved me: 1) identifying that there was a problem and it was getting worse; 2) figuring out the source problem; and 3) looking into solutions for the problem and selecting the one that best fit us as a family. The same person also laughed in my face when I said that sometimes babies cry because they are frustrated at not being able to fall asleep, not because they need their mommies. (She also doesn’t vaccinate and believes that she can prevent her children from ever being sick because health is “an intensive project” that begins during pregnancy and ends when the kid leaves the house.)

      • crazy grad mama

        I ran into one of those in the comments here last week. She maintained that my reasons for sleep training must be completely invalid because there was no way my baby could’ve wanted peace and quiet and a lack of continual soothing to settle to sleep—no, clearly the problem was that I’d “never learned how to comfort [my] child.”

        I myself hate noise/touching/anything going on when I’m trying to fall asleep, so it makes perfect sense that a little person with half my genes might be that way too. Assuming that all kids fall into the same “perfect baby” mold seems like the opposite of being responsive, if you ask me.

        • SporkParade

          Oh, I remember that. That was crazy.

      • Monkey Professor for a Head

        A few weeks ago, my baby threw an all mighty tantrum. I spent an hour trying to calm him but nothing worked for more than a minute or so. I was about to start crying myself, so I put him in his crib, set my phone timer to two minutes and walked away to collect myself. When I came back two minutes later he was nearly asleep. So it seems that all my efforts to soothe him were actually making things worse and what he really needed was peace and quiet and sleep. That hour of crying would have been much harder on him than those 120 seconds that he was left alone. So now when he starts getting upset I try placing him in his crib much sooner and it works much better.

        • nomofear

          Oh, I’ve done that a few times! You just facepalm…

        • Kelly

          I have been there. I spent three hours one time trying to get my child to sleep at a relative’s house. The great-grandmother would have killed me if I had let her scream. I finally had to give her benedryl to go to sleep. At home, when she is over tired, she screams herself to sleep and it takes about thirty minutes. Yes, it is long but it does not happen very often and it is the only way to get her to sleep. I sometimes need to cry to relieve stress and I feel that it is the same way for my kids.

  • Ash

    I am a little tempted to make a blog where I explain the importance of the hokey pokey for “mamababy” bonding. Then see how many people instagram it.

    #hokeypokeyforbirthysmells

    • AirPlant

      The mirroring behavior of the hokey pokey creates a sense of solidarity between mother and child that strengthens the bond and teaches the beginnings of empathy. That is why mothers have used it for eons to gently instruct their children and even why we perform the ritual at weddings as a was to symbolize the cementing of a bond. Denying your child the hokey pokey is akin to saying that they were never a part of you and you can’t find any common ground between your two souls. That’s just science.

      • Azuran

        that must be why I’m a generally detached person…. I never learned the hokey pokey!

        • Ash

          You put your right foot in…

          • AirPlant

            you put your right foot out.

        • Roadstergal

          https://youtu.be/5kk8MnpAT4A (NSFW, come on, it’s a John Waters movie…)

    • LizzieSt

      But is the hokey pokey really what it’s all about?

    • Monkey Professor for a Head

      I sing it to my son whenever I’m dressing him. It doesn’t make him cooperate, but he seems to like it.

  • Mac Sherbert

    So thankful I never bought into the whole you must do x to bond. It’s just not the way I was raised. I taught school and loved all the kids I taught. I really did care for them even the “bad” ones. It never occurred to me my baby wouldn’t love me. I mean all my previous puppies and students loved me. Anyway, my goal from the beginning with my babies was for them to be familiar with others in the family and be happy being cared for by them or me. My mom always said the more people that love your child the better off they are. Why in the world do these people think that moms are they only ones that can properly love the kids. Sometimes when my son is having a hard time he leaves me and facetimes grandma for comfort…doesn’t mean he doesn’t love me just means she’s better at making him laugh and forget his troubles. Seems to me this whole must bond with mama thing is just taking kids away from other healthy relationships they could have with family. Kids will bond with whoever takes care of them even if the care is mediocre.

    • AirPlant

      My friend’s kid is an asshole. Like a full on, emotionally unstable, tantruming hot mess with a complete lack of social skills and no signs of empathy happening any time soon and I love him with a near insane ferocity. I am not exaggerating when I say that this kid is basically Caillou incarnate and I would walk through fire for him. Bonding is inevitable and bizarre.

      • Dr Kitty

        Oh Caillou…
        We didn’t have the right satellite TV channel for it when it was age appropriate for #1, and from what I have seen we will avoiding that TV channel religiously with #2 (who better like Doc McSruffins, because his sister is obsessed with it).

        I cannot deal with Caillou.

        • AirPlant

          You think that he is the worst until you have a freaking live action douchebag screaming because he asked for juice and you gave him juice.

        • demodocus

          I’ve been warned about Caillou. Toddler-boy has a Thomas & Friends obsession, which I don’t mind. The nurses got him addicted when he was in for the broken leg. Darn you medical types! 😉

          • Bombshellrisa

            No Caillou here either, I learned that before I had kids after an afternoon babysitting two girls who loved the show.

          • Phoenix Fourleaf

            I don’t know what it is about the freaky trains with faces, but most every child I know has been obsessed with them at some time during toddlerhood. Thomas is weird, but I would take him over Cailou any time.

    • Roadstergal

      “Seems to me this whole must bond with mama thing is just taking kids away from other healthy relationships they could have with family.”

      That’s so well put. It’s so important for a kid to have many loving and secure relationships in their life, with many people.

    • demodocus

      My toddler adopted our pastor as a grandmother; she is more than happy to oblige. For that matter, he may think the choir are relations, too, lol.

    • LizzieSt

      Yes! The other family relationships are important, too, not just mommy, mommy, mommy. Depression runs very strongly in my family, but the women have all been to avoid postpartum depression for one simple reason: With new babies comes lots and lots of family support. You need a day off? Grandma and Grandpa or Aunt Mary will be happy to take over while you rest. We Greeks haven’t quite conformed to the Western model of individualist isolation yet.

      This is what I see as one of the great hypocrisies of attachment parenting. Its followers fondly imagine themselves to be following ancient, timeless parenting practices, identical to those of, say, pre-Contact Native American tribes. But in fact the principles of attachment parenting are as modern and individualist as can possibly be. The idea that one mother, alone in a house or apartment, should care fully and completely for the needs of an infant, with either very little or no help from anyone, is as much a product of modern Western capitalist society as……….infant formula. (Ha!)

      • KeeperOfTheBooks

        Exactly. And for that matter, re breastfeeding: it’s not at all uncommon for mom’s milk to take 3-5 days to come in, which makes me suspect that Back In The Day, a sister/aunt/friend/whatever would spend at least some time nursing Junior in those first few days while mom got some post-birth rest.

  • somethingobscure

    I totally bought into the initial idea you mentioned — that unhindered birth is best/safest/awesome — with my first pregnancy. I went through 30+ hours of unmedicated active back labor. I tried to eat and drink, as Ina my gaskin recommended, but it just made me throw up violently. I found that I could get through the pain, with my doula, but I was beyond exhausted by the time I finally got to 10 cm about two days after my labor began.

    Every gravity-inducing, wild-birthing, supposedly magical position I assumed caused my baby to have severe heart Decels that weren’t recovering the further down the birth canal he got. At +2 station after 3 hours of pushing, monitors, and a failed vacuum extraction, his heart rate was dropping so low, even my pro-natural birth midwife with a 5% c section rate recommended a cesarean. It was clear my body was just too tired and overwhelmed to push hard enough to get him out.

    The funny thing is, maybe if I had gotten the dreaded epidural, I would have been more relaxed, even well rested, and managed to push him out vaginallu. Or maybe I would have dilated more quickly. Or at the very least maybe they would have realized earlier that a c section would be necessary and save my son from the trauma of fetal distress, not to mention the vacuum ripping off a hunk of his scalp.

    The problem is this idea of one size fits all. Do it our way and you will be guaranteed a beautiful birth and incredible bonding even better than an orgasm. But I followed each and every one of their recommendations and I still ended up with a c section. As soon as I had the c section I felt extremely relieved. My baby was healthy, I recovered well, I didn’t have to worry about potential trauma to my pelvic area, and we bonded and breastfed beautifully with my son. The real horror story isn’t having a c section. It’s having a damaged baby. But those stories they gloss over… And so many of them looked at me with pity after I told them about my birth story. Fuck them. In the end I had the birth I wanted: one that resulted in a happy and whole baby and mother. Unfortunately that’s something a lot of natural birthers don’t get to experience.

    • Erin

      Happy, healthy baby should be the number one priority. It’s amazing how that takes a backseat because women believe so ardently in the magical powers of natural birth, that they take the safety of their child for granted.

  • JJ

    I felt such a burden feeling like I had to attachment parent my first 3 kids or they would have problems. I like some of the ideas when they are practical (babywearing) but otherwise could anyone formulate a more exhausting way to parent your children?! Things are much better now that I see my needs are valid and I am still attached to my newest baby even though I bottle-feed, use a baby swing, ect. I feel very bonded to her because I am also mentally stable and not suffering from exhaustion induced PPD. With my first I had such horrible PPD/PPA that I was afraid to touch him sometimes.

    It is like in the natural living circles whatever is the causes the most suffering/martyring on the part of the mother is the best and then they make up dire consequences for not following their ideas. Don’t babywear=hate your baby and they will become a sociopath. Not breastfeeding=sickly dumb kid. I could go on and on.

    • crazy grad mama

      Hugs from another mom who had PPD. It’s been a long slow struggle for me to become OK with prioritizing my needs sometimes, even though I know my son is much better off with a mother who can be happy and interactive.

      I was reading The Honest Midwife’s blog recently; she has an interesting theory on the psychology of this martyrdom. It goes like this: If you’re smart, you believe that you always make the right decisions, so if you made a decision that caused you stress/pain/suffering, you will seek out reasons why that decision was really for the best.

    • Phoenix Fourleaf

      Breast feeding was excruciating for the first 10 weeks with both my kids and lactation consultants were worse than useless. I would nurse every 2 hours with tears streaming, and the consultants efforts to correct my latch did not affect my pain levels in the least. The only advice I got was to breastfeed even more. I really bought in to the idea that I would be a failure if formula passed my child’s lips. It seems like a pretty dumb idea now, but I didn’t know any better at the time. I certainly think that my untreated pain during birth and breastfeeding contributed to my serious depression. I gutted through pain and exhaustion until I used myself up.

      • JJ

        Ten weeks of pain is just too much and I am sorry for your suffering. I think pain in mothers needs to be treated more seriously. According to NCB women need to endure childbirth without pain relief and then do whatever it takes to breastfeed. My kids all had a good latch but I always had pain and cracked nipples the first week and bf is very exhausting for me. I just could not endure a 4th round of all that. My baby AND I are thriving using formula.