Natural mothering seeks to shame women for daring to consider their own needs


I’ve often noted with surprise that no sooner do I write about a topic than natural mothering advocates rush to illustrate my claims. This time though, I’ve been preempted. I had already planned this post when New Zealand lactivists serendipitously came to my aid with the perfect quote to lead it.

Access to infant milk formula should be restricted “more like prescription drugs”, a maternity group says.

Hospitals were right to require new mums to sign a consent form if they want their babies fed formula, said Brenda Hinton, a spokeswoman for the Maternity Services Consumer Council…

“I do think as a society it would be a good idea if formula was treated more like a prescription drug, something that you use if you are unable to breastfeed.”

It’s the perfect quote to illustrate the central premise of this post: Natural mothering doesn’t just ignore women’s needs and desires apart from mothering. It seeks to shame women for even considering them.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]The only thing natural about natural mothering is the sexism.[/pullquote]

Why? Because natural mothering is not about parenting in nature; it bears little resemblance to that. Natural mothering is about recapitulating the rigid gender stereotyping in nature.

It’s hardly a secret. Natural parenting — natural childbirth, lactivism and attachment parenting — were all created by religious fundamentalists who believed that women belong in the home and must be pressured to return to it.

Grantly Dick-Read, the father of natural childbirth, famously said: “Woman fails when she ceases to desire the children for which she was primarily made. Her true emancipation lies in freedom to fulfil her biological purposes …”

The founders of La Leche League wished to convince mothers of small children that they should not work. Promoting breastfeeding seemed the ideal way to pressure them to stay home.

And Bill and Martha Sears wrote: “We have a deep personal conviction that this is the way God wants His children parented.” And just in case you didn’t get the point: “Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything …”

The only thing natural about natural parenting is the sexism: the deep, abiding belief that women exist only for the benefit of children and men. They shouldn’t merely ignore their own needs — for intellectual engagement, political and economic power and personal fulfillment — they should be shamed for even considering those needs.

Make no mistake, requiring a prescription for infant formula is a form of shaming. How dare a woman imagine that she is entitled to determine how her own breasts are used? She should be required to justify herself to her doctor or midwife and receive the appropriate scolding for failing to adhere to her appropriate gender role.

Natural childbirth is also about shaming. How dare a woman imagine that she is entitled to relieve agonizing labor pain simple to ease her own suffering? She should be required to justify herself to midwives, doulas and peers and receive the appropriate scolding for failing to accept her womanly suffering.

And attachment parenting is about shaming mothers out of the workforce. How dare a woman imagine that she is entitled to a job and the intellectual fulfillment and economic power that come with it? No one cares about her needs. She should be shamed for even considering them.

Don’t tell me that natural parenting is about what’s good for babies. Infant mortality rates in nature are astronomical. There is no historical or anthropological evidence that natural parenting is safer, healthier or better in any way than parenting with technology.

Don’t tell me that breastfeeding is what’s good for babies. There’s simply no evidence that breastfeeding has any impact on the mortality rates of term infants in industrialized countries. Professional breastfeeding advocates can’t point to any real world evidence that a change in breastfeeding rates has any change in the health of any but the most premature babies.

Don’t tell me that unmedicated vaginal birth is what’s good for babies. Childbirth interventions rates have never been higher and perinatal mortality rates have never been lower. What about maternal mortality? It’s a cruel joke to blame maternal mortality on too much technology. It disproportionately affects women who LACK access to high tech obstetrics.

Don’t tell me that attachment parenting is about what is good for babies. AP has become ever more popular but the rates for teen suicide and self harm have never been higher.

Who benefits from requiring prescriptions for infant formula?

Lactivists benefit:

First, lactation consultants benefits by increased employment and income. If every women is shamed into attempting breastfeeding, and shamed if she attempts to stop, and shamed if she combo-feeds with formula, and shamed when she is seen bottle feeding, there will be greater need for lactation consultants.

Second, lactivists benefit in the same way that those inflicting shame on others always benefit, by enhanced self-esteem through feeling superior to the shamed.

Finally, lactivists benefit by enjoying ugly behavior that is usually forbidden but is actually encouraged in the case of formula feeding. There is simply no limit to the cruelty of lactivists toward women who don’t or don’t want to breastfeed, and no limit to the delight that lactivists experience in sanctioned cruelty to other mothers.

Natural mothering seeks to recapitulate the rigid gender stereotyping in nature. It seeks shame women for daring to consider their own needs. There is no better illustration of this than the ugly desire of lactivists to require a prescription for infant formula.

Sadly the only thing natural about natural mothering is the sexism.

69 Responses to “Natural mothering seeks to shame women for daring to consider their own needs”

  1. Dr Kitty
    December 4, 2017 at 7:41 am #

    Well, they may want formula on prescription, but as a GP quite frankly, I don’t have the time or resources to suddenly issue monthly prescriptions for 85% of the infants under six months on my books, who are being fed an appropriate foodstuff, in appropriate amounts, by people who love and care for them.

    Total waste of my time and energy and I’d refuse to take part in any such madness.

  2. CSN0116
    November 30, 2017 at 3:32 pm #

    Cool, relevant video:

  3. anh
    November 30, 2017 at 12:44 pm #

    Today I was pondering going on a 2 hour hike with my dog. My neighbour offered to take my baby (and she’s a certified baby whisperer) but I was worried about getting back to feed her in time. I knew it’d be fine if I topped my daughter up with an ounce or two of formula after feeding her right before I went. But of course I felt vaguely guilty. I was talking it out with my husband and saying “I mean, it will be fine but it seems crappy to use formula just so I can take a longer walk” and my husband said “I’m sorry, I can’t hear you above the Goddess Myth wailing up in here”. I laughed, went on my walk. I feel awesome. Baby is fed. Neighbour is happy to get baby snuggles. My milk didn’t dry up. Tell me again why formula is evil and I’m a jerk?

    • CSN0116
      November 30, 2017 at 1:50 pm #

      I have 5 children but never put one to breast, not even for a second. I have had my milk “come in” and been engorged and leaky though. Enorgement makes me anxious and itchy in my own skin. I wriggle and feel claustrophobic, like I’m being suffocated. I deal with it until it dries up but don’t like it one bit. I cannot FATHOM that sensation over and over and over. And being dependent on a baby or pump to alleviate the feeling – and having to schedule my every waking day around access to relief of the milk. There is no point to my sharing of this lol, but you sharing how you had to plan something as easy as a walk around infant feeding flooded me with memories of that claustrophobic sensation. I’d go mad. Best I opted out, I suppose.

  4. Margo
    November 30, 2017 at 1:51 am #

    Totally disagree that formula should be on prescription only. Absolute madness! It’s bad enough in NZ that formula is not accessible, strictly BYO. And having to sign forms if wanting to bottle feed is something I have never agreed with.

  5. MaineJen
    November 29, 2017 at 9:04 am #

    “Childbirth interventions rates have never been higher and perinatal mortality rates have never been lower.” Most important sentence in this piece. This should be the end of the argument.

  6. CSN0116
    November 28, 2017 at 8:25 pm #

    OT: Some nasty anti-vaxxers have tried to sink the ratings on this awesome pro-vaxx children’s book. Check it out …and maybe leave a comment 😉 We’re Catholic and I just ordered five copies for Christmas XD Judah Maccabees for all of our friends’ kiddos!

    • Steph858
      November 29, 2017 at 12:00 pm #

      So many comments on how this book is ‘Propaganda targeting the Jewish community’ who have ‘Low vaccine uptake because they know TEH TROOF!’ But I thought that the consensus among conspiracy theorists was that it was Jews who made all the propaganda in the first place. So if Jews know that vaccines are secretly harmful, why would they be trying to convince each other to take them? This ‘logic’ fails even by woo standards.

  7. Young CC Prof
    November 28, 2017 at 3:52 pm #

    The real purpose of this is to harm mothers, but let’s talk about the people who supposedly benefit: The babies.

    The babies whose parents suddenly realize late at night that breast milk is insufficient, who may wind up going unfed until morning.

    The happily breastfed baby whose mother suddenly gets sick, whose father now has to endure a runaround just to feed the baby on top of the family’s many other problems.

    The baby whose mother is ashamed to ask for a prescription, or even denied one, who is then fed on homemade or back-channel formula and suffers malnutrition or even food poisoning as a result.

    The baby weaned on to mush and cow’s milk too soon, again because obtaining formula is too difficult.

    The baby whose parents are too overwhelmed and confused to refill the prescription before the holiday, who is then rationed or fed unsuitable substitutes for several days.

    Every single one of these WILL happen, if formula is made harder to get.

    • Sarah
      November 29, 2017 at 3:11 am #

      Those whose GP surgeries can’t get them an emergency appointment in time, or who are between GP surgeries because of more transient lifestyle.

      I’d also like to talk about the people who’d benefit: those running black market enterprises. Does anyone think nobody will be ever sell formula that’s been prescribed for their baby, for a tidy profit? And Amazon. People will buy it online.

      • Steph858
        November 29, 2017 at 9:03 am #

        GP’s appointments are like hen’s teeth as it is. Can you imagine how overwhelmed they’ll be if mums have to have an appointment every time they need a new tub of formula? Even if they don’t need an appointment and can just call up the receptionist to renew a repeat prescription, that still clogs up the phone lines and prevents someone who actually needs to see a GP from getting through.

        • Sarah
          November 29, 2017 at 10:49 am #

          Yes, it sounds marvellous doesn’t it? Even if one were to believe all that nonsense about the amount breastfeeding saves the NHS, that would be a good way to suck up all the savings and more.

        • Gæst
          November 29, 2017 at 1:13 pm #

          Though one potential plus might be that insured moms would get their formula for only a copay! I’m sure the insurance industry would fight that tooth and nail, though.

      • Young CC Prof
        November 29, 2017 at 12:34 pm #

        Yup. There will definitely be a black market. And some of it may be counterfeit, expired, or from countries without the same strict and well-enforced safety standards.

        • November 29, 2017 at 12:59 pm #


          Sorry, don’t know what happened there. Something caught in my throat.

          • Sarah
            November 29, 2017 at 2:40 pm #

            You must have been formula fed.

      • Caylynn Donne
        November 30, 2017 at 5:10 pm #

        Up here in Canada, there are places where there are hundreds or thousands of people on waiting lists for family doctors. There are people who have been on the waiting lists for YEARS. What would those families do if formula was only available by prescription? Go to a walk-in clinic and hope? Go to the hospital, clogging up the ER?

        • Sarah
          December 1, 2017 at 3:03 am #

          Breastfeed exclusively, sufficiently and successfully of course! That’s how these things work.

    • Amy M
      November 29, 2017 at 12:30 pm #

      The mothers who have to go back to work within weeks of the birth and can’t pump enough.

  8. mabelcruet
    November 28, 2017 at 1:41 pm #

    Given that we are pack animals and meant to live in tribal groups with communal living and communal sharing, with childcare shared amongst various members if the tribe, how come natural parenting has fixated on one mother wearing her baby permanently? Surely natural parenting means anyone with a spare pair of arms steps in. And if mum can’t lactate, anyone with a spare breast steps in. So natural parenting, as currently understood, seems to be highly unnatural.

    • Sarah
      November 28, 2017 at 4:00 pm #

      YY re breastfeeding.

      We know that breastfeeding must have worked well enough to get enough milk into enough babies for enough of them to survive long enough to reproduce. We’ve no evidence at all that this was necessarily the milk of their own mothers, have we?

      • mabelcruet
        November 28, 2017 at 5:48 pm #

        Absolutely. And we know that breast milk from another lactating woman is fine for babies-its not like your breast milk is genetically coded to work just for your own offspring. So communal breasts and communal feeding is highly likely-if cave woman mum is busy skinning lizards or tracking antelope or whatever they did, cave woman auntie steps in.

        • Sarah
          November 29, 2017 at 3:13 am #

          And breastfeeding is just something that some people are better at. It seems no more a stretch to think some women would’ve specialised in breastfeeding duties because they were the best at it than it does to think there were probably people who were absolute geniuses at remembering where certain berries grew and spent more time doing that because of their skill.

      • Young CC Prof
        November 29, 2017 at 12:40 pm #

        For the past 10,000 years, a lot of the human population also has access to domestic animal’s milk. Babies fed exclusively on animal milk from birth are unlikely to survive, but some combination of what breast milk there is, animal milk, and some sort of grain gruel would give the child of a woman with low supply a reasonable chance of survival. They might have some health problems from the suboptimal nutrition, but you don’t have to be all that healthy to just survive long enough to reproduce.

    • Gæst
      November 28, 2017 at 5:34 pm #

      I am NOT a pack animal.

      • mabelcruet
        November 28, 2017 at 5:43 pm #

        From what I’ve seen, most parents are pack animals, what with carrying the changing bag, the baby blanket, the spare nappies, the spare clothing, the cuddly toy, the other cuddly toy when the first one doesn’t work, the spare bottles, the breast pump, the spare breast pump, the rusks, the first aid kit….

        • November 29, 2017 at 2:22 am #

          Most often, it seems, the mother is the pack animal. From what I see, Dad is rarely so burdened.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            November 29, 2017 at 9:05 am #

            mabel’s comment reminded me of the one trip we took when our youngest was just a baby. We got onto the plane, my wife and our 2 yo son were each had a carry-on and was pulling another bag. I was carrying a bag, pulling another, had a carseat and our youngest was in a backpack on my back. We had left the stroller at the door of the plane.

            We were all pack animals at that point.

          • Empress of the Iguana People
            November 29, 2017 at 11:03 am #

            My husband usually is the pack mule, so I can run after escapees.

    • Steph858
      November 29, 2017 at 9:28 am #

      Slightly OT, but I need to vent.

      My son’s preschool has announced that it is going to shut down, giving us literally 1 month’s notice of this. It’s due to funding issues and a bad OFSTED report (the latter of which I didn’t care much about. It got a bad rating because the premises wasn’t clean enough; I thought, “If the inspector thinks they’re dirty, he’d have a heart attack if he saw my flat!”).

      Anyway, I went on social media, hoping to commiserate with other parents. But there were lots of comments along the lines of, “That’s what you get for shirking your responsibilities as parents. What kind of heartless mother would dump her sweet little toddler off in the hands of strangers all day just so she can go to some pointless make-work office job? Our grandparents would never have even contemplated doing such a despicable thing!”

      Which made me think: these ‘Back in the kitchen’ types would have us believe that the women of yore all devoted their lives to raising their children and that nothing short of being on their deathbeds would’ve made them delegate those responsibilities to someone else.

      But: what was the first currency ever used? Barter. Spear-makers bartered their wares with hunters so each could focus on their specialisation and blah blah blah division of labour. So why wouldn’t childcare be one of the services traded among prehistoric women? Where’s the sense in every woman in the village staying at home to look after her young children when 2 or 3 women could look after the whole village’s children, freeing up the rest of the women to go fruit-picking or whatever?

      • kilda
        November 29, 2017 at 9:56 am #

        through most of history only rich women could afford to stay home with their kids. Contrary to what those people think, lots of their grandmothers did in fact delegate child care to someone else so they could go to work in fields, factories, or richer people’s homes. Hell, in a lot of times and places those same children were expected to get jobs by the time they were, oh, 7 or so. This idea of a past where all mommies stayed home and devoted all their attention to their kids all day is really a myth.

        That really sucks that your childcare fell through on you. 🙁

      • Heidi
        November 29, 2017 at 9:57 am #

        Oh that sucks! Lately it seems everyone is having daycare nightmares.

      • CSN0116
        November 29, 2017 at 9:59 am #

        They don’t know shit about history. They’re unknowingly referring to the ever-so-brief 1950’s time period where (1) the industrial revolution had occurred (no more farm life), but unions had fought to make work safer (2) office jobs were becoming dominant (for men) (3) their husbands could work now safely and earn a wage large enough to sustain a household (4) the GI Bill and other incentives made their husbands able to receive college education and buy homes while still young, (5) infant and maternal mortality were down –all of that meant that women *could* – for a whisper in time – safely bear children and be the quintessential SAHM with the pristine home and children whom were doted on 24/7.

        That was a historical phenomenon and did not exist before and it has not existed since. It’s a fucking pipe dream.

      • Empress of the Iguana People
        November 29, 2017 at 10:58 am #

        jaysus, I just did that. I finished 3 quilts for some friends (a mutual friend died with them unfinished last winter) and they paying us back by babysitting the spawn so we can just go out.

      • Empress of the Iguana People
        November 29, 2017 at 11:00 am #

        hugs by the way and hope the preschool switch is relatively smooth

      • MaineJen
        November 29, 2017 at 11:18 am #

        Oh my god, I hope you find a new preschool or daycare!

        ‘Back in the kitchen?’ Do they know how prevalent drug use (mother’s little helpers) and alcoholism were among women forced back into the kitchen? I’ve always thought I’d make the world’s worst housewife. I hate cooking and cleaning. On my days off, I end up wandering around unmoored, with nothing to keep me to a schedule. What a nightmare…

        • Tara Coombs Lohman
          November 29, 2017 at 12:03 pm #

          Me too! I love my days off, but always end up feeling at loose ends. I loved being with my kids, but if I’d had to stay home with them day after day, my mental state would not have benefited them at all. I’ve always been prone to depression, but my successful education and jobs have helped my self-esteem, which has also helped my mental state. I have friends who have spent their whole lives having babies and working in the home, and they seem to have been happy, but I know that was not for me. My ideal life would have been to cut back to working part-time, but we couldn’t afford that, so it’s a good thing that I love to work. Now my kids are adults, and if I didn’t have my job, I don’t know what I’d do with myself.

      • EmbraceYourInnerCrone
        November 29, 2017 at 11:28 am #

        Women back at the start of the Industrial Age and before, worked outside the home, mills and factories were often staffed by women and girls (Triangle Shirtwaist anyone?). Children were left in the care of older siblings, grandparents or neighbors. For many families the only way to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table was for everyone to work. For women who were widowed or abandoned it was the difference between eating or starving/being homeless(remember there was no Social Security, no food stamps/SNAP, although recent immigrants might have local Settlement houses to help them out).

        My mother and my grandmothers all worked out side the home most of their adult lives. This weird 1950’s idea of the nuclear family where mommy stayed home and kept the nest and daddy went off and earned the money is a recent invention.

        • EmbraceYourInnerCrone
          November 29, 2017 at 11:32 am #

          For example of the 146 people who died in the Triangle factory fire in 1911, 123 were women and 23 were men. Most were recent immigrants.

        • Tara Coombs Lohman
          November 29, 2017 at 11:54 am #

          THANK YOU. I was going to come on and say this but you said it so much better. Women have ALWAYS worked. Even if they were working at the home they weren’t sitting and holding their babies all day every day, let alone wearing them. They were milking cows, chopping off chicken heads and plucking off the feathers, gardening, washing clothes by hand over boiling fires (yeah, try to baby-wear while stirring things over a huge vat of boiling water), making bread, scrubbing and sweeping by hand….and a myriad of other chores that you cannot do with a baby tied to your front. Many of these women were out picking cotton, corn, tobacco, etc right alongside their husbands. These were the fortunate ones who could work in their own homes. The others worked outside the home-other peoples’ homes, other peoples’ farms, factories, foundries…. those who were lucky had family members to watch their kids, often it was an older child who did childcare, if they could be spared from working themselves. I’d really like to know where this idyllic picture of attachment parenting and extended breastfeeding came from–it sure wasn’t founded in reality. AP can be a dang lark if you know that all you have to do is strap your kid on, thrown a load of whites in the wash, and swan off to Whole Foods to get your groceries.

        • maidmarian555
          November 30, 2017 at 6:20 pm #

          My father was born in Glasgow in 1942 and was pretty much raised by his older sister. My grannie worked in the factories and didn’t really have time for her 6 children. Once they were old enough, he and all his siblings were expected to leave school and go out to work too. By all accounts it was an exceptionally hard life. It was the same for many families who lost husbands and fathers during the war. The women worked and they worked hard. My Grannie didn’t need to leave her child with ‘strangers’ because she had other children to leave in charge of babies. People clearly don’t know enough about how their own families just two or three generations back probably would have lived (especially here in the UK with both World Wars literally decimating the male population and leaving thousands of women as the sole breadwinners for their children).

  9. Amazed
    November 28, 2017 at 1:23 pm #

    OT: Today, my mom attended the funeral of a classmate of hers. He was a respected doctor and lecturer and a trailblazer in his specialty in my home city. He did so much for people, giving them far better and longer life than nature intended. RIP.

  10. Empress of the Iguana People
    November 28, 2017 at 12:57 pm #

    We had a Child services woman come by last night* and one thing she mentioned was that it was a good thing I have interests outside the spawn. This is a woman who spends her days going around checking on potentially dangerous situations to look into allegations of child abuse. Reading between the lines, I’d guess she thinks it’s better for everybody involved if Mom does do things for herself.

    *TL;DR version is apartment inspectors might be good at reading the building but they suck at reading me. Also, girl bard is not a boy, and I do not have bi-polar.

    Long version: Our city sends out inspectors to look at all the apartments in the city periodically. Landlords must be there, as well as at least one of the tenants on the lease in a given apartment. Unfortunately, landlords and neighbors are a -huge- trigger for my depression. My house was still pretty messy when they came last week and I was a studdering wreck. we had a couple windows that needed to be fixed but I was scared to call the landlord (because of the phobia-ish thing). The house was cluttered and I’d missed some of the remnants of the spawn’s lunches because they have skillz. 🙁 One of the trio, landlord or housing inspectors, called CPS and they sent someone over yesterday. Fortunately, a friend took the day off of work and helped me _thoroughly_ clean the public areas of the house and with the smidge in the kids room I got to, we seem to have passed. We were both able to keep our cool, even as the kids got wild with the stranger in the house at bedtime. Impressive, since I’m at the height of my PMDD.

    • Kelly
      November 28, 2017 at 1:28 pm #

      That is one of my nightmares. I do not see how clutter and a bit of food mess should be a call to CPS especially after having a baby. If your house is not like this after having a baby, you must have a lot of help. I am so sorry you had to go through this and I am glad it was quickly resolved.

      • EmbraceYourInnerCrone
        November 28, 2017 at 3:55 pm #

        Agreed, some of the most abusive people in my life have been compulsive cleaners and liable to be more abusive if anyone messed up the home in any way.

        • Christy
          November 30, 2017 at 12:07 pm #

          Reminds me of a story I once heard about my great-grandma. Apparently she was a genius at running the family business but not so great with the child raising and nurturing. One of my grandma’s brothers developed appendicitis, but great-grandma refused to call the doctor until the house was spotless. So all the kids were racing around cleaning the house to the sound of his anguished screams. But the doctor didn’t see a dirty house. My great uncle survived. I wasn’t so sad that she died before I was born after I heard that story.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa
        November 28, 2017 at 4:15 pm #

        Child services focuses on actual safety issues. Messiness is not a concern in itself, only to the extent it creates a safety hazard. It’s not about the ideal, it’s avoiding danger.

        For example, a complaint about formula feeding vs breastfeeding wouldn’t go beyond triage

    • Heidi
      November 28, 2017 at 4:13 pm #

      I actually got around to kind of deep cleaning the house yesterday. I’m very sore today as a result. Today the kitchen counters have crumbs and coffee stains, all the cushions are strewn about the living room floor, there’s a shredded cotton ball or two, a couple of DVD cases have been torn apart, and the baby has figured out the child proof latch on the bathroom sink and has thrown some tampons on the floor. So yeah, I’ve not gotten anything to show for the hours of cleaning I did yesterday. Today I’ve had to deal with a toddler who slept bad last night, woke up early and refused to nap.

  11. CSN0116
    November 28, 2017 at 12:50 pm #

    I became a mother young – at age 22 and had five children by age 28 – and never bought into this, not even for a second. I laughed (still laugh) at the martyrs who did, many of my best friends among them. I don’t laugh at those who ignorantly try and bow out when it no longer suits them. I laugh at those who find an ounce of worthwhile in the suffering and its perpetuation.

    I think it’s because I grew up surrounded by women who lacked choice – they were poor, marginalized, couldn’t easily access higher education, worked (too) hard to put food on the table, were abandoned and mistreated by men, etc. That’s what I saw. I saw women everywhere who lacked control and autonomy. In response, *my* adult life has been an intentional living contradiction to what I experienced as a child, and my mothering decisions directly reflect that.

    “I will die for my children but I will not give up my life for them.”

    ^^^ An adaptation from a quote in “The Awakening,” written in 1898 when, ironically, women seemed to question their bondage to motherhood more than they are willing to do today.

    • FormerPhysicist
      November 28, 2017 at 1:03 pm #

      Perhaps because I actively chose to have children (and so did most of my mom friends), there’s an element of “you chose this, now you have to stick with it and do it 100%”. I hate it in myself, but it’s hard to shake. 1898, not so easy to avoid motherhood, so … maybe there’s a different mindset? Just speculating.

      • Who?
        November 28, 2017 at 6:20 pm #

        I think there’s something to that understanding of what motivates us-perhaps a variation of ‘you made your bed’?

        The older I get, the more I notice how little pleasure, let alone joy, there often is in the world. Being kind to yourself helps you be kind to others, including your children.

      • CSN0116
        November 28, 2017 at 7:20 pm #

        So, the university in which I work is located in an “urban center.” In America, that’s code for racial and economic segregation, as well as an over-representation of racial/ethnic minorities and the poor. I spend a lot of time there, socialize there, and do a lot of outreach within the community. I pay particular attention to the mothers, who are far more varied than the mothers in my own suburban home setting.

        This is what I see: a “you do you,” non-moralized, reciprocal, and much less competitive culture of motherhood. Some of this is by default, yes. One cannot care about EBF, $250 slings and organic crib sheets when basic needs are busy being met. However, motherhood is valued differently here, too. That is, it is revered and in a much more positive and collective, we’re-all-in-this-together way. For women who struggle to graduate high school, let along obtain a college degree or climb the corporate ladder – motherhood is a goal that they CAN readily achieve and be good at. And there is pride in that. In short, motherhood seems like a valued, admired aspect of life here – which is why it’s built up and not torn down. In suburbia, motherhood doesn’t seem to be genuinely valued like this; it comes across much more like another accolade, or reputable accomplishment, to go along with the JD and Volvo SUV.

  12. November 28, 2017 at 11:54 am #

    The bit about attachment parenting that I’ve never understood is how AP gurus know what every baby in the universe wants – without setting eyes on a given baby.

    My son enjoys being worn if he’s in a new or scary environment. If we’re at a doctor’s office, he’s happier attached to my chest. Ditto for the first time we go to a store or a new person’s house. He’s calmer in my arms or in a carrier and I’m happy to oblige.

    Outside of that, he prefers having freedom to look around and move around without me getting in the way.

    When Spawn came home from the NICU, he was on a three-hour feeding schedule – but we could move it around a bit for demand feeding. Too bad his main demand was that I stop waking him up at midnight for a feed. (He demonstrated this by refusing to wake up at midnight for more than 10 seconds during the diaper change.) The next feed he dropped was the 3 am feed. Now, he plays dead if we show up in his room between bedtime and morning. We hear him wake up between sleep cycles – but that is Spawn’s free play time in his crib and woe to the parents if we interrupt it.

    If a mom and a baby like attachment parenting, then that’s great – but I feel rather bad for babies who clearly want a bit more space but can’t get it….

    • Empress of the Iguana People
      November 28, 2017 at 1:06 pm #

      He just had his 1st birthday didn’t he? Happy b-day Spawn! (and we can wish it again at his gestational 1st! 😉 )

      • November 28, 2017 at 9:15 pm #

        He is officially one now! He’s growing like a weed and seems to develop a new skill every day. Thanks for the birthday wishes! My husband and I agree that’s it’s been one hell of a year – but we wouldn’t trade it for anything.

        • kilda
          November 28, 2017 at 9:40 pm #

          happy birthday Spawn!!!!

        • Who?
          November 28, 2017 at 9:42 pm #

          What a journey-happy birthday baby boy and well done Mum, Dad, family and friends.

        • rosewater1
          November 28, 2017 at 10:21 pm #

          Happy birthday Spawn! May you have many more. Congratulations to you & your family, Mel…you’re doing awesome!

      • Christy
        November 30, 2017 at 12:12 pm #

        Oh my, already!?! Happy belated birthday Spawn!!!

    • StephanieJR
      November 28, 2017 at 3:35 pm #

      I just plain love Spawn. He has his priorities sorted.

    • Amazed
      November 28, 2017 at 4:17 pm #

      Wow! Baby with purpose! (One of my nail polishes is named Purple with a Purpose. A gorgeous shade it is and Spawn seems to be of the same mold!)

    • Jessica
      November 28, 2017 at 4:53 pm #

      When my daughter was two or three months old, she was crying and crying. I tried to comfort her but she wasn’t hungry (I was breastfeeding at that point) and didn’t want to be changed and cuddling didn’t help her. My husband tried cuddling and swaddling and swooshing and singing. Finally, in exasperation, he set her down to take a much-needed break. She instantly stopped crying. All she wanted was NOT to be held.
      She never did love being “worn,” although she would tolerate the ergo until about six or seven months if my husband was wearing her and we were going on a long walk. She loved being on her play mat, practicing her kicks, and moving on her own. She slept in her own room from 6 months and dropped her last night feeding at 8 months, adopting an 11-hour uninterrupted night sleep cycle. Two years later, she is a very affectionate child who still does not love being held. She likes her space (she will ask us to make a space next to us for her) and she is very independent.
      Why do people assume all babies are the same?

      • mabelcruet
        November 28, 2017 at 5:54 pm #

        My cats are like this-all 3 were brought up in the same way. Cat one loves being held and carried, he is quite happy spending hours draped over my shoulder like a sack of corn, big lazy lump. Cat 2 is very affectionate and loves being stroked, but will tolerate sitting on your lap for a few minutes and then jumps off. Cat 3 is a nervous little thing-she will edge up against me and huddles in, but doesn’t really tolerate much stroking and won’t sit on my lap. And these are cats-much as I love them they aren’t exactly known for their brain power and sophistication, but they definitely have their own likes, dislikes and preferences. Humans are just the same, just because babies are very new humans doesn’t mean they all want or like the same thing.

        • StephanieJR
          November 29, 2017 at 11:46 am #

          I’ve had a rabbit whose only form of affection was biting me, another whom liked to be petted but preferred to sit by my feet, and my current, Amy, who hates to be picked up and carried, but will climb onto my lap for snuggles, and even fall asleep on me. It took me very little time to work out her preferences; some of these AP parents would do well to listen to the little humans and consider their personalities. Of course, that’s if it really is all for their children, and not their ego.

      • Cat
        November 30, 2017 at 9:12 am #

        Exactly the same story with my daughter. I still feel a little guilty for all the weeks when I was obviously stressing her out by holding her when she didn’t want to be held (because everything I’d read said that the answer to a crying baby was more cuddling and/or more boob).

        Oh, and when I’ve told the local smug AP mummies a version of this story, they’ve said patronisingly that, oh, there’s nothing wrong with a baby who doesn’t like cuddles but they feel so blessed because their babies have all been so snuggly and mellow.*

        * I recently witnessed one of these snuggly and mellow babies trashing the local library when it was allowed out of the sling for five minutes of freedom. One of the funniest things I’ve ever seen!

        • Empress of the Iguana People
          November 30, 2017 at 3:34 pm #

          My little barbarian is pretty good at that, i have to say, although mostly she just likes to zoom around with the roller stools they’ve got.

          • Cat
            December 1, 2017 at 11:16 am #

            Passers-by always think my toddler is adorable when they see her plastered against the door of our local library shouting “open! Open!”. Little do they know that she’s only there for the felt-tip pens (banned at home) and the swivel chairs!

  13. November 28, 2017 at 11:43 am #

    In the paragraph that begins “Natural childbirth is also about shaming” the correct word in the last sentence is “accept” not “except”.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD
      November 28, 2017 at 11:48 am #

      Thanks! Fixed it.

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