AN INFANT’S POINT OF VIEW
For a baby the womb is a nice secure place to be in. Towards the end of the 9 months, it is a little cramped, but it is home for the baby. She is with her mother, she can hear her heartbeat, feel her body working all around her and hear her voice constantly. She has to make no effort for her food and the lighting is perfect for her eyes.
Then the earthquake begins. If the contractions hurt you, they also hurt her as they push her outwards. Worst of all, at the time she needs your reassurance most you are busy dealing with your own pain. The birth is worse. Lights are brighter and sounds are louder than they have ever been. Cold air and arms of strangers replace the warmth and comfort of the womb. Worst of all in most cases she is cut off from the only familiar link she has – the mother. The source of food and air is rudely cut; from now on the baby will have to eat and breath on her own.
Normally, we are more worried about ourselves during labour and delivery than about the baby. But it has to be remembered that she is even more frightened. For her it is the end of the world as she knows it and she has no way of knowing that what is happening is for the best.
The first harsh lesson of parenting is realising that the baby’s needs come before yours.
You can’t always control the mode of birth or even the facilities offered by the maternity home. But you can make a difference to your baby in this most momentous event in her life
- In the last few months, especially, accept that your baby’s needs take precedence over your own. Your fears, anxieties and tensions could lead to a premature birth and it therefore becomes your responsibility to stay calm and strong for her.
- Before labour begins and during it, for as long as you can, place your hand gently over your stomach and talk to her. She needs to know that you are there and everything will be all right.
- After delivery try and hold her as soon as possible. Some doctors believe in placing a newborn on the mother’s stomach and then cutting the umbilical cord.
After the birth, too often social constraints force mothers to put the needs of families and friends before the child’s.
- You can’t stop visitors from coming for fear of offending them, even if it means possible infection to the baby.
- You may not always respond to your child’s cries as well-meaning relatives tell you that ‘too much attention’ spoils the baby. A lot of people will advice you to let the baby cry as it will help her lungs expand.
- The baby wants the warmth and comfort of your touch but you don’t want to keep her in your lap for too long for the fear of her ‘getting used to it’.
- You may feel forced to carry out rituals and ceremonies possibly dangerous to her health (such as putting honey on her tongue or putting kajal in her eyes) for fear of yours relatives.
Remember however, that she is your responsibility. Your intervention can stand between her and illness and you need to put her welfare above the demands of your relatives, even if they end up feeling offended for a while.
A baby cannot manipulate before the age of 6 months
To a newborn the world is full of giants. Her survival depends upon pleasing at least two of these giants – her mother and father. Your slightest displeasure is a threat to the baby. She doesn’t understand that you’re tired or busy or feeling depressed. For her you hold the power of life and death as she is totally helpless without you. At this stage her only method of communication is crying and it is a frustrating method as it does not clearly indicate exactly what she needs to convey – is she wet, cold or hungry? Spend a while imagining yourself to be surrounded by giants and totally at their mercy. It will help you in the months to come, to keep your perspective when faced with a baby crying for no apparent reason.