The Strength of a Mother

“Becoming a mother makes you the mother of all children. From now on each wounded, abandoned, frightened child is yours. You live in the suffering mothers of every race and creed and weep with them. You long to comfort all who are desolate.” — Charlotte Gray

Since becoming a mother, the above quote rings true with me, and with lots of mothers I’m sure. I was a lot colder, unforgiving, proud, and stubborn as a person before becoming a mother. A crying child had almost no affect on me. Any mother, aside from my own, wasn’t interesting to me. I didn’t want to hear their problems, or screaming children, or the amount of long hours that they put into their day. Quite simply, I wasn’t interested because I didn’t understand them. I didn’t understand what it took to be a mom. And therefore, their trials and tribulations didn’t hold my attention.

I can pinpoint when not only my attitude towards mothers changed, but also when my compassion for a mother came to the forefront. It was when I found out I was going to become a mother myself. To say that my life changed when reading the pregnancy test would be an understatement. Seeing two lines on a stick meant that I was going to become someone’s world. Their ENTIRE world. I would be responsible for this person in every way. Every move I made would be analyzed by someone. 

During the nine months of my pregnancy, I became instantly aware that I was much more emotional. I cared so much more for strangers’ children. I would see other moms out with their kids and if I witnessed a bruised knee, tears welled up in my eyes. The rush of these new emotions scared me, I’m not going to lie. If I was this emotional being pregnant, I couldn’t even imagine where my tears would gather once I delivered my child.

The day came, however, when I did deliver my son. I cried the whole day. This being my first pregnancy and delivery, you can imagine that I was scared…and that too is an understatement. I cried because I was scared, because I didn’t know what to expect, and because I knew there was no going back. This was it. I was about to deliver life. A life that I made from scratch. From his eyebrows to his toenails. I made a human being inside me. Amazing. I still can’t really believe I did it…or that it’s done daily by women everywhere. The whole “sperm and egg turn into a child” thing still baffles me. 

Once I settled into the daily routine of being a mother, although it’s anything BUT routine, I noticed that I was still emotional about children, especially infants. They’re so utterly helpless and dependant on their caregiver, that anytime I heard about a child abuse story or an abandoned infant, it just about stopped me dead in my tracks. I cried, I said “how could anyone hurt a child”, it bothered me immensely and still does. 

I have grown more compassionate to children and mothers. I now understand what a mother’s job is all about, how hard it is to be a mom, how grueling and, at the same time, rewarding the process is. I feel for moms and children everyday. My tears and I have become friends instead of strangers now because I am so emotional since becoming a mother.

What Charlotte Gray says in the above quote is 100% true. Once you become a mother to your own child, you are now a mother to everyone’s child. And until you experience motherhood firsthand, you will never be able to understand the bond that forges between a mother and child. It’s so intense and so unwavering, that to describe it as unbreakable is even an understatement.

It’s so much more than that. It’s spiritual, metaphysical, and down right otherworldly. There are no words to depict the love between a mother and child. To say there’s nothing in this world I wouldn’t do for my son doesn’t even begin to bring the statement to life. I would kill, lie, cheat, and steal for my son in any way that I needed to. I am a normal person in every day life, but make me have to flex my mothering and I, like all moms, become supernatural. 

We can take on the world and anything that is thrown at us. We are the strongest and most important women in the world. We are mothers to every child. And I firmly believe that there is nothing in this world that can rise above that. 

Please, share your comments and stories. Hearing what other parents have to say is empowering to all mothers.

One Mom’s Solution for Diaper Rash – What Worked for You?

I see questions and concerns pop up all the time regarding diaper rash — how to prevent it, how to treat it, and how to get rid of it for good. I’ll share what worked for me and my son because we’ve never had any problems with diaper rash since his birth and he’s now 4.

I did research on diaper rash during my pregnancy because most people I knew with children have always had diaper rash problems. What I came across seemed simple: always use baby powder at diaper changes, especially at night.

Baby powder, not cornstarch based powders, contain an ingredient called “talc” in them. Talc can be harmful to newborns if they inhale too much of it. What I found that worked best when my son was an infant to 4 months of age, is I would sprinkle the baby powder on the diaper before I put it on my son and gently diaper him as to avoid a spray of powder in the air.

After 4 months of age, I simply put the diaper on and before fastening it, I would sprinkle powder all over the genitalia area then fasten the diaper.

Because I used baby powder from day one, my son never had any diaper rash. I’ve never even purchased diaper rash cream – that’s how well using baby powder worked for me!

Use common sense when it comes to the summer months and at bedtime. Summer is hot and children are in diapers 24 hours a day, so naturally, more powder will help keep them stay dry down longer. And at nighttime, they tend to stay in a diapers longer so more powder is beneficial for their little bottoms then, too.

Concerning the difference with baby powder and cornstarch, I chose to go with baby powder, but many moms I know preferred cornstarch and use that instead because it doesn’t contain talc. Both products function well in keeping the area dry.

What worked for you to keep diaper rash at bay? Leave a comment and let us know!

A Touch Today for a Better Tomorrow

Beginning in the womb, your child becomes used to your touch. The swishing of the amniotic fluid and your gentle movements sway your child toward the warmth of your body. This need to be touched by the infant never ceases and, if anything, becomes stronger once you give birth to your child.

After birth, mother-child bonding time is crucial. Unfortunately, some hospitals whisk baby away immediately after birth and the time is hectic rather that quiet. The good news is that baby bonding does not rely just on the first moments after birth, and in fact, it continues into adulthood.

According to Sharon Heller’s book The Vital Touch, newborns will seek comfort in their mother immediately. “The human infant arrives hard-wired to seek contact with the mother. Take the newborn’s primitive reflexes. First, there is cuddling. When picked up and held, newborns mold their arms and legs into the cavity of our arms. Next there is clinging, the apparent purpose of which is to grasp mother and maintain contact.” 

Even body temperature and digestion can all be easily regulated by touch. Simply by holding your baby, caressing, and co-sleeping, your newborn will ease right into its new human ways because your body is already regulating temperatures for the both of you. During co-sleeping, the mother’s temperature fluctuates to accommodate baby and vice versa. If your infant is cold while in your arms, your temperature will rise to make baby warmer. Nature designed mothers and infants act as one, especially in the first few weeks of life.

According to Heller, “Massaged babies often show greater weight gain, and fewer postnatal complications. They are more social, more alert, less fussy and restless, sleep better, and have smoother movements.”  Mothers who use gentle, constant touching will soothe baby more than any pacifier ever could. Infants are constantly looking to be touched, massaged, and cuddled.

Using gentle touch techniques with your baby helps to ensure that you will also learn your baby and become fluent in their language. When your infant cries, you will know what they want almost immediately and are able to soothe their crying after a short period of time. Maternal instinct and gentle touch go hand in hand. The better you know your child, the better off the both of you will be. Don’t mistrust your motherly instincts, hone in on them. No one in this world knows your child better than you – never forget that. Heed the advice of the pediatrician, but don’t be afraid to speak up and second guess doctor’s advice. Every child is different and what’s good for one, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for all. Getting to know your child during infancy will help with any problems that arise later.

Heller states, “The arms of the sensitive mother invite. Then the world looms too large, too loud, too bright, too cold, the infant knows that she will be enveloped in a warm protective embrace. This gives the baby a clear message: ‘You are safe. You are loved. You are loveable.’ And so the infant relaxes, secure against the world.”

Even now as adults we can look back on our own childhood and understand where our caregivers went right or wrong when it came to motherly love and gentle touching. Our mother’s love affects us from infancy into adulthood and beyond. It’s not only the tie that binds, it’s also the basis on which we form opinions of ourselves and others. A mother that knows her child and caters to their needs will most likely end up with a well-rounded and courageous individual. A mother’s influence, touch, and protection provides us with roots as well as wings and shouldn’t, by any means, be taken lightly.

Practicing Attachment Parenting not only nourishes you and your baby’s needs physically, but emotionally as well. With your baby so close to you, there’s no question whether he is safe, hungry, or uncomfortable. While co-sleeping, both of you get longer stretches of undisturbed sleep as well as helping to create the unbreakable mother-child bond. This utter closeness helps encourage mothers to tap into their infant’s needs, and also reassures baby that their mother is never far away, thus allowing for babies’ mental state to remain calm.

An article entitled “The Breastfeeding, Co-sleeping Connection” from Babiestoday.com, states that “Human children are designed to be sleeping with their parents,” says Katherine A. Dettwyler, Ph.D., an associate professor of anthropology and nutrition at Texas A & M University. “The sense of touch is the most important sense to primates. The expected pattern is for mother and child to sleep together and for the child to be able to nurse whenever they want during the night.”  The article also discusses Dr. James McKenna, professor of anthropology and director of the Mother-and-Baby Sleep Lab at the University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, IN, who pioneered the first behavioral and electro-physiological studies documenting differences between mothers and infants sleeping together and apart (in different rooms). Dr. McKenna is known worldwide for his work in promoting studies of breastfeeding and mother-infant co-sleeping. McKenna explains, “First and foremost, co-sleeping is beneficial because it is what mothers and babies are supposed to do – what they have been biologically designed to do – as maternal proximity is expected by the baby’s body. Clinically, from scientific studies, a co-sleeping baby sleeps longer, cries less, breastfeeds more, sleeps more lightly (in stages 1 and 2) and spends less time in a more mature stage of sleep.”

 Using, exploring, and learning gentle touch and co-sleeping techniques with your baby will undoubtedly bring the whole family closer. Parents will learn to respond to their baby’s needs with a sensitive and nurturching touch, and baby will feel loved and protected.  To know that their needs will never go unmet instills a sense of reassurance in children that is unparalleled in any other environment. Gentle touch gives our children the courage to grow, explore, and consume all that the world has to offer. How we respond to them now forms the basis for their later relationships and in turn how they will parent their own children.

Sources:  Heller, Sharon “The Vital Touch” Henry Holt and Company. New York. 1997. 

Babiestoday.com http://www.babiestoday.com/articles/breastfeeding/the-breastfeeding-co-sleeping-connection-2682/

Visit Giving Birth with Confidence all next week, August 9-14, for a week-full of giveaways! We’ll be giving away a different infant or maternity item every day, Monday through Saturday!

Co-Sleeping Is Natural in Our House

My son is turning four this month and we have co-slept since his birth. It not only felt natural to co-sleep, it was a deep-rooted intuition that sparked as soon as I gave birth. Everything about it felt right; I knew it was the best choice for us.

In the beginning and as a first-time mother, I worried about the possibility of rolling onto my son during co-sleeping. Very quickly, however, I learned that motherly instincts reign supreme for me and they were not going to allow me to harm my son while we co-slept. Some nights, in the beginning, I never moved. The way I laid down was exactly how I woke up. But as I became more secure with the idea and trusted myself that this was the right decision, I moved freely at night, simply moving my son with me in the crook of my arm.

It may be beneficial for new moms (be it a first-time mom or a new co-sleeping mom) to use a co-sleeping aid (like this one) to help ease the fear of accidental rollovers.

It is utterly natural for an infant to want to be near its mother, and unfortunately, it’s something that American culture has moved away from. We receive lots of advice from the “professionals” who often recommend letting children “cry it out” instead of soothe. 

I never allowed my son to cry anything out; if he cried, he was picked up, rocked, fed, or changed… or all of the above if that’s what it took to soothe him! As a result, our bedtime routine has always been simple and peaceful. We both lie down, he nestles into my arms and is peacefully asleep within a half hour. Bed and naptime is not a time of fear, dread, and panic; it’s a tranquil experience because my son knows that mommy is within arm’s reach.

The cradle of a mother’s arms is not only a comfortable refuge for an unsure infant, but a safe haven for a child of any age. Children may grow older, but they don’t outgrow the physical and emotional need to be held and reminded that they are safe.