Questioning the 'Naturalness" of AP - Page 3 - Mothering Forums

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Old 02-21-2007, 02:47 PM
 
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I agree that you may have just been "blessed" with two high-needs kids. They probably would have been even more high-needs if you had not tried to meet their needs by being an AP mommy.

My ds is super super high needs. Some days it feels like I have been through battle by the time dh gets home. Dd, on the other hand, has never really cried, slept through the night since birth, and generally just smiles all the time. She wakes up smiling. She separates easily but still loves to cuddle.

I really really think you did not make your kids "needy" by practicing AP. Maybe your twins will be easy babies!

As far as AP=natural, I'll have to think about that part a while.
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Old 02-21-2007, 06:50 PM
 
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I don't think that Mothering mag promotes June Cleaver with a sling. After all, Peggy O'Mara is always talking about how we need to restructure our culture to make it easier to be a parent. You don't see many articles about housecleaning in Mothering. I do think that we tend to unconsciously graft AP onto the June Cleaver ideal, especially, perhaps, for some SAHMs. (And I'm here to tell you to stop worrying about messy houses and heaps of laundry! Housekeeping should be in a separate part of your life from mothering--they are NOT the same job. Making them be the same job just gives men another reason to not help. There's a reason Charlotte Perkins Gilman and other 19th c and early 20th c. feminists had as their domestic ideal communal kitchens and laundries--the whole point was to save women's labor and brains for things that were better for them and for their kids rather than spend it all day on drudgery.
Good point. Except that what bothers me about the June Cleaver ideal is not just the housekeeping but rather the expectation that mothers must be a certain way otherwise they are not good mothers. That's what I'm seeing in subtle ways in Mothering. The old values are replaced with new expectation of a breastfeeding, babywearing, cloth diapering, homeschooling, cosleeping mom. And the mothers in my playgroup who object to Mothering mag (who are ironically natural/hippie types) felt this way. Many of them have done cio w/their kids and they are obviously pretty offended at the suggestion that they are bad mothers for doing so. Many people like myself, strive for AP/NFL ideals but fall short sometimes when reality hits. I guess what I would like to see is more of an overtone that "we are a support to mothers who AP" and less "lets bag on mainsteam mothers and pat ourselves on the back."

BTW, there's a book titled "Perfect Madness:Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety" that talks about this issue to some extent. The author lived in France where she felt more support and acceptance and then came back to the US and was shocked at the expectations and lack of support for modern American mothers today. She also attacks AP as being the cause of some of the problem. Obviously the book was slammed around here for that reason and others, and I obviously don't totally agree with her view but think she has some points.

"We shape the clay into a pot but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want" Lao Tzu
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Old 02-21-2007, 07:16 PM
 
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IMHO there is nothing at all natural about letting your child CIO. MDC cannot possibly please every single mother/parent. That being said, I also believe that everyone should have an opinion and be able to express that. Some of us feel CIO is torture and there's no reason for it, others feel that they must do it or feel they have no other option. I can understand wanting to get some of your own sleep (DD only slept for 15 min. at a time and I had to be holding her) and how the demands of motherhood can make you question your decisions. However, I strive to be the best mother I can be and ykw? That means making sacrifices. We all knew that jumping into this mothering thing. I do believe that Mothering is meant to help us do the more "natural" or "AP" thing or at least give us information on it. Isn't that what this site is all about?????

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Old 02-21-2007, 07:37 PM
 
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there's a book titled "Perfect Madness:Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety" that talks about this issue to some extent. The author lived in France where she felt more support and acceptance and then came back to the US and was shocked at the expectations and lack of support for modern American mothers today. She also attacks AP as being the cause of some of the problem. Obviously the book was slammed around here for that reason and others, and I obviously don't totally agree with her view but think she has some points.
I read Warner's book, and while I don't agree with her on everything, I was impressed with her analysis of women's ambition and its total compatibility with motherhood.

According to Warner, what is 'unnatural' about contemporary American Motherhood is that mothers' 'striving for status', and their 'maternal emotions' have been split. When we insist that 'work' and motherhood are incompatible, we go against two fundamental parts of our evolutionary history--providing for our children, and nurturing them.

For Warner, full-time attachment parenting is no more 'natural' than is excessive, fulltime 'work'. In her view, 24/7 AP prevents a mother from holding on to her sense of agency as an adult, by pulling her into the infantile realm of her children. (paraphrasing from memory)
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Old 02-21-2007, 10:33 PM
 
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For Warner, full-time attachment parenting is no more 'natural' than is excessive, fulltime 'work'. In her view, 24/7 AP prevents a mother from holding on to her sense of agency as an adult, by pulling her into the infantile realm of her children. (paraphrasing from memory)
Do you remember what Warner suggested as a solution? I'm not being sarcastic at all I'm genuinely curious because I do think there is truth in that, I just can't figure out what the solution is.

"We shape the clay into a pot but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want" Lao Tzu
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Old 02-21-2007, 11:14 PM
 
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Do you remember what Warner suggested as a solution? I'm not being sarcastic at all I'm genuinely curious because I do think there is truth in that, I just can't figure out what the solution is.
From what I recall, her solutions involved asking our collective 'selves' what are the facts of our actual lives, and beginning to define some national priorities that reflect those lived realities. So, for instance:

-institutions that would help us take care of our kids. Guaranteed, high quality childcare centres, funded by the government, so that we wouldn't have to do everything on our own, and we wouldn't feel guilty about leaving our kids in sub-standard care.

-family entitlements (I think similar to the social programs she experinced while in France). Universal programs for all that are not tied to any political agenda. Sick-leave, vacation leave, etc.

Basically, quality of life stuff. I'm sure there's more, but I can't remember right now.

I think her point is that we need to start thinking about the problem as a 'societal' one, rather than one of 'individual' women and how we manage our private lives.

Does that sound familiar?
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Old 02-22-2007, 04:46 AM
 
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In France, whose system Warner praised, there are public daycare centres for kids of stay-at-home moms. So if a stay-at-home mom as to go to the hairdresser or get some shopping done or has a doctor's appointment, she just drops her under-3 year old at the "garderie" and comes back when she is done. I always thought that this was one of the best things about living in France. Another thing - public, universal preschool starts at age 3 and 97% of children attend.

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Old 02-22-2007, 05:11 AM
 
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But I CAN tell you what the effects of being raised Non-AP were like, at least for me. My parents did the whole bottle feeding, CIO, sleep alone in a crib thing. I had no confidence as a child. I was afraid to let my mom out of my sight. Even at age 10, I was afraid to be home alone. It took me hours to fall asleep (it still does) and I don't feel completely safe unless I'm in a familar bed. Not with a familar PERSON. A familar BED. Furthermore, I have a very difficult time sleeping with another person in the same bed. It just doesn't feel right.


I don't ap as much as others do. I carry my kids when we go somewhere. if they don't want to be carried I put them down and let them walk or if we are at the store I put them in a cart. It is still ap. I am respecting my childrens desires/limits/boundaries as human beings. my oldest sleeps in his own bed and in his own room. he wants to. more than that he NEEDS to. he will NOT sleep if someone else is in the same room when he is going to sleep. we coslept until he was 3-4 months old. we shared a room until this past november. it was very challenging meeting his needs, while still meeting my own. breastfeeding...my oldest did not like breastfeeding. I am convinced he has sensory issues. nursing him was...well it was painful for both of us. he wouldn't unless he was so hungry he couldn't stand it. then he would scream until I latched him. he held his arms to his chest...eyes tightly closed and guzzled as much milk as he could until he felt full. when he was done he was DONE he would immediately unlatch and squirm until I put him down. he wasn't big into being worn until we could do the hip carry and even then only for short periods. imagine my suprise being willing to go to great lengths to reassure my baby that i'd never leave him and his every need would be met to end up with a baby who had so few needs and yet such high needs. he is as ever quite unique. even at almost 2 yrs old.

my youngest and he are polar opposites. Jake NEEDS to be rocked to sleep. he LOVES being worn and will fuss until I do so. He loves nursing and does so quite lovingly and warmly and a LOT. he nurses when he might be a bit hungry. he nurses when he's not hungry but misses his boobies. he and I converse while he's nursing (quite a feat with a nipple in his mouth) he rubs and hugs my breasts and just LOVES it. He needs to sleep cuddled up to me.

does that make me less ap because they each need differently? maybe what Caleb really *needs* is the reassurance that "mommy knows me and loves me for who I am and won't try to pressure me to be something I'm not" I just don't know. I do the best I can and I do what I feel is right and that is natural to me.

i'm not sure if this makes a lot of sense...Jacob is playing on the floor wide awake but the boobies are *on call* so I'm not allowed to go to bed

Jami (25) Roland (27) & Caleb (5), Jacob (3.5) , Kaitlyn (2)
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Old 02-22-2007, 11:23 AM
 
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It's also worth reflecting on the fact that the United States is actually incredibly unsupportive of parenting, especially the mothering of small children--we fall way at the bottom of measures of this--no yearlong paid maternity leaves like they have elsewhere, low BF rates, millions of children without health insurance, etc.... The lack of structural support for motherhood here, and the emphasis on individual mothering in individual separated houses, also makes it really hard to do AP.
Yes, this is exactly it. How on earth is a mother supposed to utilize the AP tools of breastfeeding, co-sleeping and babywearing when she has no year-long paid maternity leave? It doesn't make sense.
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Old 02-22-2007, 03:07 PM
 
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You might wanted to check out Aletha Solter's Aware Parenting website and her book Aware Baby

Aletha Solter is a basically AP person who raises similar critiques to those that you raise. She does not believe in breastfeeding for comfort -- she thinks that breastfeeding interferes with children's normal mechanisms for relieving stress (such as crying) and that it can actually be an unhelpful distraction from their true feelings.

She also recommends against nursing children to sleep, because she believes it trains them to wake up every 45 minutes and need to nurse, as you've decribed. She posits that babies who are not nursed to sleep actually sleep better at night.

She also has some other ideas that I have troubles embracing about children's need to cry.

I'm not totally a Solter fan, but it sounds like she might be thinking along similar lines to you.
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Old 02-22-2007, 03:11 PM
 
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So... it's now doing our children a disservice to stop their distress by nursing them? We should allow them to cry coz that is what they need?

Sounds like a new CIO For Their Own Good philosophy. Wow, that's a new one.
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Old 02-22-2007, 04:38 PM
 
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Honestly thismama, it's more subtle than that. It sounds like CIO at first, but it's really different. Aletha Solter is a 100% AP person in that she believes in attachment and meeting babies' needs. Her big radical belief (in which she departs from the AP canon) is that babies have a biological need to cry to relieve stress. She further believes that some forms of "comfort" that people give fussy babies, such as nursing them, rocking them, etc., are mere distractions that do not actually help babies feel better but may hinder their attempts to recenter themselves by crying. She believes in holding babies and staying connected to them while they cry, and does not advocate leaving a baby to cry by itself.

This is not mainstream AP and it might not be up everybody's alley, but it is in the AP family. I thought that maybe it might be more what the OP was looking for than the pure AP canon, given how stressed canon AP is making her feel.
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Old 02-22-2007, 04:59 PM
 
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Okay well that is interesting. My fear is that it could provide theoretical justification for the whole "Well if he cries at night in his crib just pat his back, even if you know nursing would help him."

I think if a baby cries, and you offer the boob or other comfort, and nothing works, well then this theory is great, and by all means hold them while they cry and don't feel guilty that you couldn't stop it. Might soothe mamas of colicky babes for whom nothing works.

But I'm also very wary coz it seems like it could be easily misinterpreted.
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Old 02-22-2007, 05:13 PM
 
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Yeah it seems odd to me because my kids rarely cry.

I strenuously disagree with nursing to sleep being bad.

My babies nurse to sleep, and my infant has slept 6 hour stretches since he was about a month. There are so many variables in babies and sleeping.

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Old 02-22-2007, 05:31 PM
 
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She further believes that some forms of "comfort" that people give fussy babies, such as nursing them, rocking them, etc., are mere distractions that do not actually help babies feel better but may hinder their attempts to recenter themselves by crying.
I could see this as possible in an older baby (over a year, maybe), but not so much for an infant.
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Old 02-22-2007, 05:38 PM
 
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babies have a biological need to cry to relieve stress. She further believes that some forms of "comfort" that people give fussy babies, such as nursing them, rocking them, etc., are mere distractions that do not actually help babies feel better but may hinder their attempts to recenter themselves by crying. She believes in holding babies and staying connected to them while they cry, and does not advocate leaving a baby to cry by itself.
Her theory is at odds with biology when it comes to comfort nursing which serves biological needs, not just emotional.
Furthermore, not all babies need to cry in order to center themselves. That makes no sense to me at all
I have a vague memory of a Mothering article on this topic.
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Old 02-22-2007, 08:15 PM
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That is funny. I would suppose that it absolutely passes the Kiss Rule - particularly in that a kiss is probably biologically based on the passing of food.
oh, sorry - the "KISS rule" is an acronym for "keep it simple, stupid" used fairly regularly in my line of work (database programming/management consulting), the idea being that added complexity does not necessarily add value or improve results. I sort of agree with you on speculation about the evolution if kissing, though I always figured it originated with infant's oral exploration of mom's body (boobs for food, then chin, etc.).
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Old 02-22-2007, 08:33 PM
 
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Old 02-22-2007, 11:50 PM
 
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I have a vague memory of a Mothering article on this topic.
It's by Solter too. http://www.mothering.com/articles/ne...onnection.html

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Old 02-22-2007, 11:57 PM
 
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I practice AP, but my stance on babies/kids crying are that if they fall down I'm going to acknowledge the accident, offer hugs and kisses and nursing... the child can decide what s/he wants... and I'm not going to distract them to keep them from crying... I've read that they need to feel comfortable to express their crying in that regard. But I wouldn't let them cry as an act of neglect/ignoring.
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Old 02-23-2007, 12:25 AM
 
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Given some of the behaviors or attitides u described in your children, mumm, I would begin to ask myself about the quality of my Attachment. We hear and read a lot about APing, and it's become a broadly used term. But there are degrees to Attachment, as illustrated by the Emotional Availability Scales innovated by Dr. Zeynep Biringen (sp?) in her book Raising a Secure Child: Creating an Emotional Connection Between You and Your Child


I took this great course on Attachment Parenting and Gentle Discipline when dd was about 9 months old. We used that book as the text, and it really shifted my paradigm. She reveals degrees of attachment and how we can affect the bond we share with our child from baby-hood into adolescence and beyond. Discussing points like: A parent and child can be very attached, but that attachment might be an insecure one, due to unconscious behaviors from the parent reflecting their own child-parent relationship memories, or the parent and/or the child experience of everyday stressors; as well as how we need to provide a source of emotional and psychological rejuvenation, (refueling) throughout those years and that if we're doing 'self-checks' and maintaining an awareness of that emotional connection, we are providing a stable foundation for that child's relationships now and in the future <- which I believe is at the heart of APing.

I heartily recommend this book all the time.

eta: link to book...
I see that your post got buried ... too bad bc I really think this is such an important topic. I have done my fair share of reading on attachment and development of attachment. I will definitely check out the book.

Often when I read about "high needs" kids here on MDC and the description of how they are high needs, my mind always gravitates to attachment issues. Personally, I know I would be very concerned if I had a "velcro" baby and would try and really find out why. I have also recently read of the phenomena of "over attachment" being more recognized.

As with all things, I think some will always view AP practices as a strict set of guidelines that must be adhered too and others will see them as a guiding set of principals to use the best way they know how.

As far as it being "natural", I don't see that it matters if its natural or not. I believe that the concepts and practices that go along with AP are beneficial and loving and that to me is reason enough to learn and espouse them.

Maggie
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Old 02-23-2007, 01:33 AM
 
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To the person who sarcastically? commented on my post about year-long paid maternity leaves--what I mean is that if mothers who were not 100% SAHMs were able to spend that year with some income they'd be much more likely to BF that full year and to generally be a less stressed parent.

And when you know you have to go back to work 6 weeks after your baby is born (I know of at least one person who did this because only her job provided health insurance, not her husband's), you are going to be spending that whole time getting ready to leave instead of relaxing and being with your baby 'naturally.' A year of paid leave would also be just a wonderful gift to a single mother. (BTW paid leaves sometimes work like unemployment compensation--you get paid according to what you made before, how long you were working, etc.)

And no, I certainly didn't mean to say that you should not AP in our society! On the contrary. I just meant that the structure of our society, especially for lower-income and blue-collar, service or industrial workers, makes it very difficult. (because these work schedules tend to be especially strict and employers unforgiving of time off, no place or opportunity to pump milk, etc.) And that to aspire to the AP idea within this society is doubly difficult because not only are you trying to everything alone, you are doing it in an environment that's unfriendly to parenting (especially mothering) in general.
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Old 02-23-2007, 01:46 AM
 
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I was just thinking that if I lived in the wild, perhaps as a native american did long ago... well that it would be best for my safety and the tribes safety if I kept my baby from crying... I am imagining different scenarios where enemy tribes or wild animals would be alerted to my presence/the presence of a baby if they heard a cry. I suppose that is why the tribes were strategic to not put mamas and babies in those situations...

Anyways, my whole rambling point is that it does seem natural that I would need to keep my baby quiet and do what was necessary for that to happen... perhaps in life threatening situations...
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Old 02-23-2007, 03:46 AM
 
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Anyways, my whole rambling point is that it does seem natural that I would need to keep my baby quiet and do what was necessary for that to happen... perhaps in life threatening situations...
yeah, there is a reason that a mom's milk lets down when her baby cries!

Heck, when I was BFing, my milk would let down when ANY baby cried, so I could agrue that nursing other people's babies is natural :

Is APing natural? Yes, that's the whole point.

Isn't living in isolation natural? No, not even close. We were ment to live surrounded by extended family and close friends of all ages who would take joy in our children with us and allow us to bask in motherhood. We were not meant to do this alone, where the routine care and nurturing of our children would become a burden.

I say -- let's all live tribally! My 8 and 10 year old would love to spend some time making faces at your babies and playing with your toddlers (while learning how to some day be mothers themselves), and we could all give each other a break. And the little kids would learn so much from the big kids, knowing they could ran back to you anytime they wanted to, but using that knowledge as a basis for playing freely. We could chat while we cook and clean, making the time fly.

We were ment to AP, but we were never meant to do it alone.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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Old 02-23-2007, 04:39 AM
 
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oh, sorry - the "KISS rule" is an acronym for "keep it simple, stupid" used fairly regularly in my line of work (database programming/management consulting), the idea being that added complexity does not necessarily add value or improve results. I sort of agree with you on speculation about the evolution if kissing, though I always figured it originated with infant's oral exploration of mom's body (boobs for food, then chin, etc.).
I know the kiss principle - I was just being funny (or not I guess).
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Old 02-23-2007, 04:42 AM
 
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Instinctual and natural might not be the same thing. Actually, our lives being so ordered and unhindered by serious survival stress may mean that we over cater to our instincts because we CAN.

However, I don't intend on giving up nursing for comfort because of an imaginary potential polar bear looking for a me-snack.
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Old 02-23-2007, 10:28 AM
 
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I say -- let's all live tribally! My 8 and 10 year old would love to spend some time making faces at your babies and playing with your toddlers (while learning how to some day be mothers themselves), and we could all give each other a break. And the little kids would learn so much from the big kids, knowing they could ran back to you anytime they wanted to, but using that knowledge as a basis for playing freely. We could chat while we cook and clean, making the time fly.
I'm in.

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Old 02-23-2007, 11:39 AM
 
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I think it is not so much that AP is not "natural" but that our society is not natural. As a previous poster has said, it is not natural for a mother to have to leave her baby to go work all day when her baby is only 2 or 3 months old. It is not natural for a mother to have to stay at home all by herself with no other adult contact and have discussions with her 3-year old all day long. It is not natural to live in a house alone with no support or companianship from other adults all day. It is not natural not to be able to carry your baby around with you all day while you work if you want. It is not natural to have to cover up my baby whenever she wants to breastfeed outside our home because people might catch a glimpse of my nipple. It is not natural to guilty about taking a shower in the morning because you have to leave your baby in the infant seat for 20 to 30 minutes to do this and she cries the whole time and there is no other adult in your home to hold her.

All of these factors add up to the fact that all the (what I believe to be) very natural aspects of AP like breastfeeding and close and prolonged contact with one's infant are really difficult to do in our world unless you are willing to live like a hermit, which itself is - not natural (and not healthy)!

Roman Goddess, mom to J (August 2004) and J (April 2009).    h20homebirth.gif signcirc1.gif
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Old 02-23-2007, 01:02 PM
 
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Originally Posted by fuller2 View Post
To the person who sarcastically? commented on my post about year-long paid maternity leaves--what I mean is that if mothers who were not 100% SAHMs were able to spend that year with some income they'd be much more likely to BF that full year and to generally be a less stressed parent.

I commented on your post. I wasn't being sarcastic, I totally agree with you! Sorry if it came across that way.

It amazes me that the connection between low BF rates, and the lack of paid, year-long maternity leaves isn't more of a political issue.
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Old 02-23-2007, 01:05 PM
 
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All of these factors add up to the fact that all the (what I believe to be) very natural aspects of AP like breastfeeding and close and prolonged contact with one's infant are really difficult to do in our world unless you are willing to live like a hermit, which itself is - not natural (and not healthy)!
Right. And, these things are also very difficult to do unless you have a very supportive partner.
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