Sunday, February 27, 2011

Why Mothers Kiss their babies

A lovely piece that reinforces why that time immediately post birth is so very important for mom and baby to explore each other without interference.


BY: Judie Rall

After a baby is born, it is natural to see the mother kissing the baby. One

would think this is simply because of the emotional bond that has formed

between mother and child. While this is true, there are also other very

compelling biochemical reasons why it occurs. These reasons reinforce

the understanding that our bodies have inner wisdom which we seldom

recognize or trust. Just as our bodies know how to give birth even if we

don’t have intellectual knowledge of the process, our bodies’ biological

systems also have reasons for the complex social interplay between

mother and baby. It just goes to show that, more than ever, we should

trust our mothering instincts.

Five SensesWhy mothers Kiss their babies

When an animal gives birth, you will notice that the mother spends a lot of time licking her young. This exposes her five senses to the young so that she knows the taste, smell, feel, sound and sight of her new baby. In this way, a mother claims her child as her own.

When a human mother births a baby in an environment which allows her immediate and free access to her child, you will notice that over a period of time she performs certain behaviours called “claiming behaviours.” She will caress the child, explore the softness of the baby’s skin, and probably count and fondle the unique little fingers and toes.

She probably marvels visually over how much the baby looks like her or her husband or another family member. She will notice the colour of the hair and eyes and other physical features. She hears the baby’s cries and learns to distinguish them from all other cries. As she leans down to kiss the child, she undoubtedly smells the scent of her new baby and through the actual act of kissing; she comes to know the taste of him or her.

Just like an animal mother, she has now

exposed her five senses to the baby so she

attaches to him or her. She now feels he or

she is her own. It is not unusual to find that

women who are deprived of the privacy required

to create this immediate bonding right after birth

often say they feel a distance between them and

their baby.

Health Benefits

Claiming behaviours such as kissing provide not only emotional, but biological

attachment. There is a very real health benefit for the baby who is kissed.

“When a mother kisses her baby, she ‘samples’ those pathogens that are

on the baby’s face. Those are ones that the baby is about to ingest. These

samples are taken up by the mother’s secondary lymphoid organs like the

tonsils, and memory B cells specific for those pathogens are re-stimulated.

These B cells then migrate to the mother’s breasts where they produce just

those antibodies that the baby needs.” says Lauren Sompayrac, author of

How The Immune System Works.

We talk a lot about breast milk and how it conveys antibodies to the infant

helping to prevent illness. However antibodies made for the mother while

pregnant are not what the baby needs. He or she needs antibodies for the

environment around them that they are in constant contact with now. Kissing

her baby is a very important activity beyond its obvious pleasurable and

attachment- promoting value. It helps mother claim baby, and helps her body

determine the antibodies baby needs in the breast milk.

So mothers, kiss away on those babies!

Copyright 2001 by Judie Rall of Unhindered Living. Reprinted with permission

in the Winter 2007 issue of Birthing Magazine.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

When people find out that I am a breastfeeding educator, they usually go on to tell me the latest thing their breastfeeding or the neighbor's breastfeeding baby is doing and to ask "is THAT normal?" We are all anxious to be "normal". I'm quite sure everybody is somewhat disappointed in my answer..... "well, it probably is normal for THAT child." I think that people want an instant "YES ...EVERY BABY LIKES TO NURSE WITH THEIR FINGER UP YOUR NOSE".... But human "norms" vary, and what might be "abnormal" for another baby, could be completely normal for yours.
Helping mothers to define "normal" for their children is challenging. So many of us want to look outside ourselves, to what OTHER people define as normal or acceptable. But really....if it is working for *you*, then it isn't broken, right??
If your baby likes to snack at the breast all day long then have a 10 course meal in the evening, who are WE to say that is wrong? Hay, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Sometimes I wonder if, in this "information age" we haven't, somewhere along the line, lost track of our inner compass. It is a mighty panicky feeling to not be able to sort out stuff and decide that you are on the right track based on mother's instinct. It does seem to fall completely FLAT when I ask some mothers, "Sooo, what is your gut telling you?" or " if she is gaining weight and pooping and peeing often, is it REALLY a problem that she baracuda's the milk down in 3 seconds flat and then wants to get back to the business of examining her toes?".....

This obsession with "normal" can completely hijack our relationship with our intuitions. We need graphs and charts to decide if our children are within acceptable ranges with ANYTHING; and sometimes, that tiny little voice buried in the back of our scrambled and exhausted brains is screaming........HE'S FINE.....

So, what I am saying is, let's get back in touch with our instincts about our own babes. As a mother, YOU know your baby best and when your eyes , heart and mind are telling you something is FINE or conversely, NOT FINE... listen. Embrace the differences between your baby and others. Babies have personalities and quirks just like the rest of us. When I look back on my own children, their individuality was there right from birth. My oldest son needed his world completely organized, really, he was obsessed with order as a baby, and HE STILL IS. Our middle son was born three weeks early, kind of skinny and STARVING... and he's been my "two cookie boy" ever since. He's 22 and he is still famous for needing a cookie in EACH HAND. And our youngest, has needed to be totally alone OFTEN and at first, when he was only a few days old, I was completely offended by this. WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU DON'T WANT TO CUDDLE WITH MAMA AND GAZE INTO MY EYES AS YOU EAT?? and really, 20 years later, he still hoovers down his dinner and leaves his father and I sitting at the table wondering what tornado just went through our dining room.

I think it is fabulous when breastfeeding women get together and swap war stories about their mothering experiences. This can validate your instincts and even give you perspective as long as you don't fall into the trap of internalizing the "normals" of someone else...

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Breast milk cheese the topic du jour

CBC News - Consumer Life - Breast milk cheese the topic du jour

Judging by the comments, this could take off! Anyone want to try it - he has a detailed recipe. It's worth checking out his blog anyways - wonderful food stories.

Mothers Who Opt for Breast Milk, Not Breast-Feeding

Well, there is no better time to start than the present. I thought the first post should be monumental, witty or at least profound, but then topics kept popping up the past few weeks and I let them go because they didn't seem to be outstanding in any one way. So I'm going to just get the 'show on the road' by sharing this article from Time: Mothers Who Opt for Breast Milk, Not Breast-Feeding. The increasing number of women who are choosing to pump and breast milk feed rather than breastfeed are increasing. As a Public Health Nurse I have noticed this to be true in the South Okanagan. The pump may be the 'middle ground' for some women who might otherwise forgo breastfeeding (or breast milk feeding) altogether. In an ideal world women would be supported to breastfeed their babies and would only need to pump here and there for particular circumstances. But for a variety of reasons this may not be every woman's reality and if the pump helps that mom and babe avoid formula then it is a far better option than not breastfeeding altogether. Sometimes it's 'Breastmilk is Best'. For my part, I will still be trying to support moms in the best way I can to feel comfortable and confident with breastfeeding but will always support a mom who is looking for other alternatives that suite her particular circumstances. What do do you think?