come from the heart

I still struggle to understand modern society’s need for labels and the consequent stereotypes we attach to them. We label people who only eat vegetables “vegetarians” and tend to assume they are all animal rights activists out to guilt-trip us meat eating, “environmentally insensitive” carnivores. And even within this elite group of “vegetarians” we have sub-groups like ovo-vegetarians, vegans, lacto-vegetarians, and so on, each with their corresponding image to live up to. Perhaps because it is human nature to want to “belong” that we do this, but it has really bothered me a lot that this labeling has even extended to the way we parent our children. We have come up with parenting labels like attachment parents, natural parents, continuum parents, dragon mothers, earthy mamas, etc. In the midst of all this, shall we say, “name calling”, we have inadvertently managed to alienate mothers who don’t fit our descriptions for each so-called “parenting type”. With all these labels we see online “mommy wars”, we read blogs on all sorts of parenting, and we read the ensuing debate on their comment boxes. I practice what we have labeled “attachment parenting”, and I actually advocate for its practices, but then I have nothing against parents who don’t co-sleep or baby wear or breastfeed, and I seriously don’t agree we can call them detached parents.

Attachment parenting calls for listening and responding to your child’s needs, to nurture them and be present for them and respect them and love them. But isn’t that what every parent should do? So why do we need the term attachment parenting? Can’t we just call it parenting? After all, aren’t these what parenting should be all about?

come from the heart

Parenting while I work

I find it sad really that we have become so caught up in trying to live-up to so called “ideal” standards that we sometimes forget that at the end of the day, we all do our best to be the best parents we can possibly be. Not all so-called “practices” of AP work for all families. Just because you don’t co-sleep, doesn’t automatically mean you don’t love your children any less. Just because you don’t breastfeed, it doesn’t make you any less a mother. If attachment parenting is all about raising emotionally secure and socially responsible human beings, then I say that is parenting. No need for qualifying adjectives that may discriminate or inadvertently pass judgment on others. Labels and so called styles help to distinguish particular techniques that may help us in our parenting journey, but they are in no way definitive of who we are as parents.

It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child, now if only our global community could decide on truly coming together in support of parenting, without passing judgment on how each family is raised, without discriminating attachment from continuum or natural, we could be a better world for it. If the goal of parenting is to raise the next generation of human beings to be better persons than who we are now, we can look forward to a truly brighter future for mankind. Attachment parenting is parenting, in every sense of the word. And so is natural parenting, continuum parenting, social parenting and so is whatever other label we have attached to parenting. Perhaps the question we should all consider as parents is not on what parenting style we employ but rather how do we use all the studies, techniques, practices and philosophies of each movement to become the best parents we can possibly be for our own children.

baby girl

This is a guest post by my friend, Amy, who recently had a baby girl about the struggles of adapting to a new baby in the house

I just had a baby girl and I’m going to talk about my life as a brand new mother. One thing I’m trying to adapt to is numerous sleepless nights because the baby wakes up mostly during overnight hours and either my husband and I will get up and hold and feed her. By the time the morning arrives, I’m so sleepy that I can barely get up. If that’s not difficult enough, my two older sons continue to beg for their favorite breakfast of oatmeal, sugar and berries but I have to tend to the baby and change her diaper. Meanwhile, my husband is engrossed in his home office, but he does help as much as he can before starting his assignments for the day.

baby girl

She’s cute but a lot of work!

Romance Is Slipping Away

My husband and I used to have quite a few date nights and we would drop our two sons off at my in-laws’ house, but now that the baby is here, there isn’t a lot of time for romance. This doesn’t mean that the romance has completely left us, but we had to cut back on our alone time. My husband decided to put in more work hours so that I can remain home with the children and I’m grateful to him for making the sacrifice. I just wish we had more time alone as a couple.

My Emotions Are Bouncing Around

I won’t say that I’m depressed and in fact I’m overwhelmed with joy about my baby girl. However, I think about the ups and downs that await me as I raise her in the next 17 or 18 years. The challenges for girls today are different from the ones I faced as a girl and I’m sometimes scared of what could happen to her as she enters school and society at large. I just want the best for her and I hope that I will be the best parent to her.

I Can’t Hang Out With Friends As Much

Since I’ve been spending a lot of time with the baby and my other children, my friends do not see me as much as they used to before the baby arrived. I also noticed that some of my friends have pulled away from me assuming that I don’t want to maintain the friendship but this is not true. I try to call my friends at least once or twice a week to let them know how my life is going and to inquire about them.

Physical Changes

I sometimes struggle with confidence in my appearance since I gained weight during the pregnancy. My husband loves me for the person I am on the inside and he has no trouble with the way I look but I criticize myself at times. I put myself on a reasonable diet which includes fish, chicken, turkey, fruits and vegetables. I’ve been also drinking more water and natural fruit juices.

I’m experiencing different changes following the baby’s birth, but with help from others and determination, I believe it will all turn out great.

So we all know that breast milk is best for babies. What many don’t know is that breastfeeding is also best for mommies. So this time I’m sharing the 10 reasons why I love breastfeeding from a mother’s point of view.

1. It’s a no-brainer. If you’re a “lazy” mom like I am, who hates having to wash all those bottles and trying to read mixing instructions and trying to figure out what a scoop of formula exactly is, then breastfeeding is a sanity saver. All you need is one boob and one baby and you’re good to go!

2. Instant quiet time. I have to confess there are times I’m too exhausted to get up in the wee hours of the morning to change a nappy. I buy myself instant quiet time by simply popping out a boob, giving me a few precious minutes to snap out from dreamland before I have to get up and be able to change the nappy. This works for almost any screaming situation and most meltdowns too. Latch baby on for a few minutes, chances are he will instantly calm down enough to allow you to figure out exactly what he needs.

3. No need to break a sweat. Breastfeeding burns an average of 500 calories a day. That’s like swimming or running for an hour. So even without getting on a treadmill, you still lose a lot of your post-partum weight. Consider breastfeeding your sweat-free workout.

4. Breast milk is an all-in-one balm. I’ve used breast milk on insect bites, rashes and even minor scrapes and scratches, and not just on baby, but on everyone in my household, hubby’s zits included. It also works as an all natural moisturizer. I once had a cup of expressed milk my toddler didn’t want to drink, I used it for a DIY foot soak. Did wonders for my cracked heel.

5. Free anti-oxidant. Breastfeeding cuts a mother and female infant’s risks of breast and ovarian cancer. Breastfed babies also have lower risks for leukemia and lymphoma. We have a strong history of cancer in my family. For this reason alone, I’d like to breastfeed forever.

6. More freedom to go wherever. Since I’m one of those moms who really don’t care what you think when you see me breastfeeding, I have the freedom to go wherever. Like I’ve said, all you need is one boob and one baby and you’re good to go. No need for bottles and formula and water, you get to up and go at a moment’s notice.

7. It’s FREE. Only about 1% of women are physiologically unable to breastfeed. So I really don’t get why many don’t take advantage of the huge savings you get from breastfeeding. The money you save from having to buy formula and bottles and teats could very well go to your baby’s college fund, or if you’ve got that covered, then go buy yourself a pretty dress or new makeup with the extra cash.

8. Less stress about baby’s health. Let’s admit that as parents, our baby’s health is an ever present concern. Breastfeeding however, cuts the risks of your baby getting sick. Studies have proven that breastfed babies don’t get sick as much as their formula fed counterparts. I’ve once rushed my feverish baby to the emergency room only to have the doctors send me home with a prescription that said “continue breastfeeding on demand”.

9. Stress buster. Breastfeeding releases the hormone prolactin, also called the “mothering hormone” because it physiologically induces a mother’s instinct to “mother” her child. Prolactin naturally puts a nursing mother in a state of relaxation and calm while breastfeeding. I have to say, despite a long exhausting day at work, I always look forward to nursing my little one, if only for the tension-releasing effect it has on me.

10. Emotional bonding and development. Breastfeeding is a life-affirming act of love. It is your baby’s source of nourishment and comfort. It is what I believe to be the first most powerful act of affirmation of a mother’s love that your baby understands.

If you want some more reasons – here are 101!

Breastfeeding is a mother’s privilege. It is a woman’s exclusive gift. There is only a short window of time when we are able to do this. I say let us embrace this gift, and revel in every moment we are privileged enough to do it.