do no harm

Please, please respond to your babies’ cries.

Please remember that your baby is a tiny human being who depends on you to show him that the world is a kind and loving place where his needs matter.

Please remember that thousands of generations of babies around the world have been raised without cribs, baby monitors, pacifiers, and other products of consumer culture–but instead with a sling and a mother’s breast.

Please remember that currently, our country has among the highest rates of depression and suicide in the world.  We are not a happy people.  Let us learn from those who are. It all starts with how we welcome our new ones into the world.

Tonight my heart goes out to the babies who do not have their needs met because the sun is down.

Why am I constantly nursing Anna?

Since I am not posting on Facebook anymore, I feel brave enough to write about the things I really want to write about because I know hardly anyone will read it.  I am not editing much or trying to create a masterpiece that I could sell off to a magazine. Nope, just writing what I feel like writing about today.  It feels good to do that.

And those of you who read this (I would love to know who you are, so drop me a comment while you’re here)  probably already know and like me and I don’t have to worry about offending you.  I hope.

***

Anna will be 17 months in two weeks.

I nurse her more times each day than I can count.  I do it all the time, anywhere, whether there is milk in my breast or not.  I think her diet consists of 95% breastmilk and 5% food.

Anna also sleeps with me, nurses to sleep if she wants to, has her cries answered immediately (and usually soothed by nursing), does not use a pacifier, has never had a bottle, has not been spoon-fed, and spent almost her entire first six months on my body in a baby carrier.

What I am doing is pretty unusual in our culture, and I think some people are starting to wonder if Anna will ever stop nursing, will ever sleep on her own, or will know how to do anything on her own.  I can confidently assure these people that she will.  And I will tell you why:

This is the way babies have been raised since the beginning of humanity.

This concept has been coined The Continuum Concept by researcher, Jean Leidloff.

The following is quoted from Shirley’s Wellness Cafe.

“According to Jean Liedloff, the continuum concept is the idea that in order to achieve optimal physical, mental and emotional development, human beings — especially babies — require the kind of experience to which our species adapted during the long process of our evolution. For an infant, these include such experiences as…

  • constant physical contact with his mother (or another familiar caregiver as needed) from birth;
  • sleeping in his parents’ bed, in constant physical contact, until he leaves of his own volition (often about two years);
  • breastfeeding “on cue” — nursing in response to his own body’s signals;
  • being constantly carried in arms or otherwise in contact with someone, usually his mother, and allowed to observe (or nurse, or sleep) while the person carrying him goes about his or her business — until the infant begins creeping, then crawling on his own impulse, usually at six to eight months;
  • having caregivers immediately respond to his signals (squirming, crying, etc.), without judgment, displeasure, or invalidation of his needs, yet showing no undue concern nor making him the constant center of attention;
  • sensing (and fulfilling) his elders’ expectations that he is innately social and cooperative and has strong self-preservation instincts, and that he is welcome and worthy.

In contrast, a baby subjected to modern Western childbirth and child-care practices often experiences…

  • traumatic separation from his mother at birth due to medical intervention and placement in maternity wards, in physical isolation except for the sound of other crying newborns, with the majority of male babies further traumatized by medically unnecessary circumcision surgery;
  • at home, sleeping alone and isolated, often after “crying himself to sleep”;
  • scheduled feeding, with his natural nursing impulses often ignored or “pacified”;
  • being excluded and separated from normal adult activities, relegated for hours on end to a nursery, crib or playpen where he is inadequately stimulated by toys and other inanimate objects;
  • caregivers often ignoring, discouraging, belittling or even punishing him when he cries or otherwise signals his needs; or else responding with excessive concern and anxiety, making him the center of attention;
  • sensing (and conforming to) his caregivers’ expectations that he is incapable of self-preservation, is innately antisocial, and cannot learn correct behavior without strict controls, threats and a variety of manipulative “parenting techniques” that undermine his exquisitely evolved learning process.

Evolution has not prepared the human infant for this kind of experience. He cannot comprehend why his desperate cries for the fulfillment of his innate expectations go unanswered, and he develops a sense of wrongness and shame about himself and his desires. If, however, his continuum expectations are fulfilled — precisely at first, with more variation possible as he matures — he will exhibit a natural state of self-assuredness, well-being and joy.”

I believe in this with my whole heart, and that is your answer.  That’s why I am constantly nursing Anna.