Crying! Why are we not empowering Mums!

This is a blog I have been thinking about writing for over a year!! It is a contentious issue which I am well aware of, but having seen another 2 anti “Cry It Out (CIO)”blogs doing the rounds in the last week, I am compelled to write this!!

These articles drive me insane! Rather than empowering a mum to trust her instincts these articles scare mums into thinking they are going to end up with a damaged demonic child. With the aftermath of cortisol flowing around their baby’s brain and making them unable to form any kind of attachment!

Now, babies cry, there is no getting away from it, if they didn’t cry we would be worried! They have NO other method of communication. Continuing to scare Mums into silencing their babies cries asap, we are encouraging them to not allow their babies to communicate…crying can mean a variety of things from the obvious ‘I am hungry, I have pain, I have a dirty nappy, or it can mean I am fed up, I have had enough of what I am doing, I am tired, I am over stimulated’ plus many more…

By throwing “crying is negative” down mums throats we are saying don’t listen, you should just respond as quickly as possible.  Rather than mum stepping back, listening, watching and learning. In our baby classes we talk about the relationships between mum, baby and I.  Mum is the expert, Baby is the teacher and we are there to facilitate. How is mum to learn if she isn’t able to listen and watch?

Now I fully appreciate that most of these articles are talking about the traditional “cry It out” sleep training method, but I truly don’t think this is widely used any more (and certainly not in young babies).  In all honesty it is the headlines that stand out, the pictures of tiny babies screaming… it is seen that the crying is negative and this stays with new mums. In one article I read there were references to Romanian Orphanages of the 80s/90s, now this is not “cry It out”, this is neglect. There is a huge difference in a mum allowing a baby to cry for a few minutes to a baby deprived of human touch and having NONE of its needs met in a Romanian orphanage and no comparison should be made between the two!

A beautiful article written by Vimala McClure who founded the IAIM (International Association of Infant Massage) talks about Listening to Babies.. She describes how you would feel if you went to your best friend and burst into tears, she grabs you and starts desperately trying to stop you crying “please don’t cry” she says…”I hate it when you cry” desperation in her voice to stop your tears…how would that feel…whereas, if you were to go to that same friend, burst into tears, she looks at you, holds you and tells you “its ok, you can cry, let it out I am here” and “I can hear you”… the feeling would be very different.

I have met with and worked with “sleep trainers” none of which work with, or recommend sleep training for babies under 6months, and most use other methods than CIO. I remember chatting to one sleep trainer who said a huge percentage of the mums she had worked with had never even heard their baby cry!!

I stress and reiterate as many times as I can to mums of tiny babies (under 3-6m) in my classes, just go with little one, be led by them, but learn from them, watch them, step back sometimes, the more you do this the more you learn. Don’t expect yourself to give birth to a little human and to know instantly what they want and when, you learn as you go, just as your baby learns to adapt to the outside world. I think that is what most of these articles are trying to say, but they are going about it the wrong way, scary headlines, horrible screaming tiny baby pictures, unnecessary judgement!

When I went on a recent birth supporter workshop we were taught as birth supporters we had to take off our metaphorical glasses. We all had them, whether we personally believed women should give birth “naturally” or should breastfeed exclusively or should demand feed or co sleep, it was up to the woman to decide how she wanted to birth, feed and parent her baby. As long as she is informed and educated we had to take off those glasses and unconditionally support…

I just wish certain people stopped sharing these horrible articles to women at such a vulnerable and precious time… Let’s empower mums to really trust their instincts, to watch, listen and most importantly enjoy and understand their babies!! And rather telling them what they shouldn’t be doing, tell them they what its okay to do, to stop worrying, putting unnecessary pressure on themselves and embrace the fourth trimester!…we are all individuals, babies are all individuals lets treat them like it and stop judging each other!