I had a lovely visit from a sweet young mother-to-be yesterday. She wanted and needed more information on breastfeeding, and I have MORE INFORMATION! She also got (as a free bonus!) information on labor, childrearing and mothering, since those are my passions. I really feel our society has lost a lot of traditional wisdom on how to be a truly good mother. Some of it is how you interact with the child, but that is only one portion, actually.
So, that being said, here is the first of my "lists of wisdom":
Wisdom for having a baby:
1. Your body was designed for this. RELAX and let it do it's job without interfering too much.
2. You can stop worrying about whether you can/will provide enough milk for your baby. You are a mammal. So is your baby. WOW--SIMPLE! That means, your body is designed to make the 1 PERFECT food for YOUR baby. Since it would be unwise to feed tiger milk to baby dolphins or gorilla milk to baby kangaroos (as those species are completely different, and have totally different growth needs), what baby humans need is human milk, perfectly customized for their own needs, by their own mommy.
3.The baby will automatically set it's breathing, heartbeat and temperature to match the person who is holding it, so bare chest to bare chest contact is VERY important to help your baby stabilize (and a great thing for daddy to do for baby while they clean mom up). It is important to continue skin to skin contact for the first several weeks.
4. The baby does recognize the voices of the people it heard in utero, and will prefer those people.
5. Babies need a lot LESS stuff than the stores would have you believe. Millions of babies have turned out fine without a crib, nursery or diaper genie. Babies prefer to sleep with their parents (or very nearby if you have to). After spending the last nine months listening to the sound of their parents breathing, heartbeat and talking why would they want to be locked away in a dark room by themself? They need to spend more time OUT of the car seat than IN it--a baby on a clean blanket on the floor is learning about spacial relationships and preparing to crawl (and it won't need a helmet to reshape it's soft little skull that has flattened from too much time in it's car seat!)
6. A baby sling or (even better a baby wrap) will help you have a happier, calmer baby, and a happier, more productive mom.
7. Babies can (and do) smile very soon after birth. Studies have shown that if the parents respond the baby will continue to smile, but if smiles are ignored, the baby will stop smiling until they are about 3 months old. (and honestly, when was the last time gas bubbles made you smile? Honestly, Gas Bubbles?)
8. All 5 senses are firmly in place by 17 weeks in utero. That means, when the baby is still the size of a billiard ball, it can feel pain and tickling, prefers sweet tastes to salty or bitter, and can hear the sounds of it's world--parents voices, mom's heartbeat and digestive system (which is a LOT louder than you would think!) and other sounds.
9. No cute little brightly colored or black and white toys are as exciting for your baby as your face. The more you play with and interact with your baby, the better you will get at understanding them, and the smarter your baby will be. Talk about a win-win situation!
10. You are wiser than you think. It will only take a few days for you to become the world's leading expert on your baby. Trust your heart. But find a wise mother (whose children you like, and are turning out well!) as a mentor.
The best book on raising a wise, happy child is "The Mothers Almanac" by Marguerite Kelly and Elia Parsons. There is a great companion book, also, "The Fathers Almanac" by S. Adams Sullivan. Your personal library should have both--and you should read them.
The next best book is "The One-Minute Mother" by Spencer Johnson.
And your "go-to" book should be by William and Martha Sears (they have GREAT books on attachment parenting, breastfeeding, discipline and more!) He is a doctor, and together they have 8 children (which makes him much wiser than the doctor part!)