How you parent your child varies significantly from parent to parent and even between children. While expecting Seb I didn’t really pay to much attention to parenting styles or routine self-help books. I think I thought it would be quite intuitive and natural. The reality was far from it and within a few weeks I was looking for recommendations. A neighbour of mine came to the rescue with the Gina Ford contended little baby book. To my relief it worked although it did feel quite regimented.
Heading into motherhood nearly 7 years later I was a little wiser and more prepared. And while I don’t regret using the Gina method, it worked for me then, but this time I needed something less rigid.
Since having Seb I read two articles that stuck with me. The first about the fourth trimester, the first three months following birth. It highlighted that from mothers tummy to the wide world was a huge leap for a tiny baby. This made perfect sense when I thought about the conditions in your tummy compared with the wide world. It must seem so strange and vast to such small eyes.
The second was about crying. It may seem obvious but it pointed out how an adult can communicate more precisely their motions and frustrations and a baby cannot. They have no other way but crying and fussing. The take home from the article was the importance of maternal sensitivity. The art of understanding the meaning behind certain cries. This time round I have paid more attention to them and there is a distinct difference between each cry.
I had heard of attachment parenting and this seemed to sound a little like it.
Attachment parenting is a philosophy that proposes methods which aim to promote maximal maternal empathy and responsiveness but also by continuous bodily closeness and touch, pioneered by a man called Dr William Sears
Done to the letter attachment parenting sounds way to rigid like Gina Ford. I like flexibility.
I wanted to find some middle ground with this style of parenting and my own instincts with my daughter, Phoenix.
I decided first to allow Phoenix to fall into her own routine with a few nudges here and there. I then did two things to be more attached to her;
Baby wearing; I chose to not use a pram and instead use a woven wrap. Rather then having all the effort and weight out in front of you pushing a pram by wearing your baby it keeps the weight closer to your centre of gravity putting less strain on your back and shoulders. I used my woven wrap which I found compared with a buckled harness a lot more comfortable. It gives me a really snug fit compared with a harness sling that I think really helps with the support you get. Wearing Phoenix helped me to keep up with her milk demand and sleeping. I think it also meant I could notice her cues for sleep and milk more easily since she was strapped to me whenever we went out. So when not in the wrap I could spot the signs quite easily and act quickly before she got fussy.
The best part about baby wearing is that I could use it as a training tool. Every time I walk with Phoenix I make sure I am switched on and treat it as posture training session. I took all the principles of a normal post natal training session and applied them to my walks with Phoenix.
The second best part about using a woven wrap is the versatility of it. I am taking Phoenix to a festival in the summer and am learning how to wrap her to my back and hip in preparation. A pram would be a nightmare at a festival!
I also decided to co-sleep. Controversial I know but I did my research beforehand and am comfortable with my choice. I have found it a great bonding experience and it also meant limiting awkward movement and straining in those important first few months post c-section. Sleep has come more easily especially as she has grown. I have got so use to co-sleeping that Phoenix will attach while I sleep. More sleep is fundamental to feeling like a human. Co-sleeping has been my saviour!
As for the occasions I do not have Phoenix attached I make sure she is in eye shot or can hear me.
I don’t think I could see myself as a mother earth, baby attached all the time but I have definitely taken some of the ideas of attachment and used them.
I began by saying parenting styles vary and I think thats what my final message still is. 7 years ago Gina Ford was good for me and my family. Turns out this time it’s not, and this is a little of what it looks like. A little attachment, a little baby led. Both my babies have been very happy. Turns out the most important thing about parenting is, that you love them unconditionally. It doesn’t matter what kind of routine or style of parenting we take the end goal is the same, a healthy happy child. The style you take has to work for you, thats all.
This style of attachment/baby-led parenting may not be to everyones taste but I found it has made for a happy baby and a happy mother. I strongly advise anyone interested in attachment or co-sleeping should look into it further before deciding to try it out. These are only my experiences