"Attachment parenting is a style of caring for your infant that brings out the best in the baby and the best in the parents."
I hadn't planned on being an "AP" parent. When I was pregnant with my precious Levi-Bear, I was certain I would put him in his crib from day one, let him cry it out, and I actually remember telling my mom, "I really don't want to breast feed. Im not going to like it. I just don't want to." And here I am, a firm believer in attachment parenting. I believe it in so much that I want to write about it because I don't think enough moms know about the benefits, especially young moms.
I have found great information from Dr. Sears. I love all his books and I'll be using a lot of quotes from him. I hope that you will not take anything I say in the wrong way. I understand that this parenting style is not for everyone. I am in no way judging you and your decisions in parenting. This happens to be what works for us and I am very passionate about it! I definitely do not know everything so I hope I don't sound like a "know-it-all". I just want you to do your research and to parent the way you believe is best. I did my research and this is what I believe in. So, here it goes:
7 ATTACHMENT TOOLS: THE BABY B'S
Im going to go through the 7 Baby B's and talk about each one in detail.
1. BIRTH BONDING
"A close attachment after birth and beyond allows the natural, biological attachment-promoting behaviors of the infant and the intuitive, biological, caregiving qualities of the mother to come together."
Obviously, the ideal delivery would be an easy, quick one where you baby comes out and is immediately handed to the mother to bond and hopefully nurse. This is not always the case. For me, I had to have a c-section and although I got to see Levi right away, I was not able to hold or touch him. Steve did press his cheek up against mine for a moment but then he was rushed away and I didn't see him until after I woke up (about 30 minutes). This was traumatic for me. I was so disappointed and felt like a failure because I wasnt able to have the birth bonding experience like some moms do.
If you are like me, please don't feel this way. If you weren't able to hold and nurse your baby immediately, it is OKAY. You are not hopeless and you can still practice attachment parenting.
"Breastfeeding is an exercise in babyreading. Breastfeeding helps you read your baby's cues, her body language, which is the first step in getting to know your baby. Breastfeeding gives baby and mother a smart start in life. Breastmilk contains unique brain-building nutrients that cannot be manufactured or bought. Breastfeeding promotes the right chemistry between mother and baby by stimulating your body to produce prolactin and oxytocin, hormones that give your mothering a boost."
Come on, it is no secret that "breast is best" is definitely true. God designed our bodies this way and even before your milk comes in, the colostrum that comes in is all your baby needs. I find that amazing.
-Before I go any farther- if you were NOT able to breastfeed for a medical reason, I am truly sorry and I hope that you don't find this offensive. I know some mothers who had serious medical problems and weren't able to breast feed, if that is you- it is OKAY. Don't put yourself on a guilt trip, hopefully the cirumstances with your next baby will be different and I pray that you will get to breast feed because I think it is absolutely wonderful.
Okay, back to breastfeeding- I have actually heard people say they didnt make enough milk and that was the problem so they quit. Please listen to me when I say that is not the case! There are so many ways you can make more milk and I will give you some tips because we had many many obstacles in our early breastfeeding stages.
Levi was born at 7lbs 14oz. By day 5, when we went home, he was down to 7lbs 2oz. We couldn't figure out what was wrong. My milk had come in and Levi was a nursing maniac. We struggled with his weight for 4 months. I did everything I knew how to do. I pumped after every feeding. I took Blessed Thistle and Fenugreek (which I highly recommend, it is increase my milk supply) and I nursed Levi every couple hours. MANY people thought I should give up and some people tried to tell me over and over that formula was fine and to just supplement - no big deal.
BUT I was determined. I would not give up. SO after talking to a Lactation Consultant, I decided to give Levi 1 oz of organic formula for a couple days and see how he did. Scared that he would get impatient nursing, I fed him through a syringe so he wouldn't even know what a bottle would be like. I also pumped after every single feeding and fed him the expressed milk (with a syringe) at the end of the day. After 3 days, he gained 5 oz. It was WONDERFUL. So after doing this for a week, I stopped the organic formula. Then after another week, I stopped pumping all together. He was gaining about 1 oz a day fora couple months. It was wonderful.
So, here I am to tell you that if you are having difficulties or you are discouraged, PLEASE talk to me! I would love to talk with you because it IS possible to continue breast feeding. Levi is 9 1/2 months and loves nursing.
I have also heard doctors say "you can supplement with formula here and there, it wont effect your supply." That is NOT true. It will effect your supply. The more you nurse, the more milk you'll make! So don't give up, keep at it! I promise you, it'll be worth it.
I also highly recommend this article by Nancy Cambell called Breast Feeding God's Way! Please check it out!
Baby wearing is definitely one of my passions (and obsessions). Baby wearing is common all over the world and thats one reason I think it is so beautiful. Baby wearing is practical, convenient AND good for you and baby.
I will be talking a lot about baby wearing in my blog because I get lots of questions about it and I just love to talk about it. Please, stay tuned for more info on baby wearing.
4. BEDDING CLOSE TO BABY
This is most commonly known as "co-sleeping" or "bed sharing". It really doesn't matter what you call it because its the same idea, you sleep close to (or with) your baby.
I was completely against this concept before I had Levi. Even when I was pregnant I was sure that we would have Levi in his crib the first night. Ha. It didn't happen that way at all. In the hospital, Levi slept in the bed with me and I nursed on and off throughout the night. When I came home from the hospital, nothing changed. After a rough c-section and recovery, I slept on the couch, propped up and Levi slept in my arms.
Once I was able to lay in bed, it was just easier for Levi to be next to me. The last thing I wanted to do was get up and get him in and out of his crib. So there we lay, comfy and cuddled in bed... with the beautiful 4-in-1 crib in the corner, and a bunch of clothes and junk laying in it.
For a short time we did use the Amby Hammock (they just recalled these and I have mixed feelings about it because I still think they are great-I need to look into it and blog about it later). We loved it and Levi slept in it great. But all of Levi's weight gain issues led me to just keeping him next to me and nursing all night... and thats what we still do. I started co-sleeping for convenience but then I grew to love it and I couldn't imagine it any other way.
We also bought an Arms Reach Co-Sleeper. I highly recommend these. And with our next baby, we will use this from day 1. But the time we got it for Levi, he was already used to our comfy mattress and he didn't really want to lay in the co-sleeper. But the downside of that is that he will ONLY sleep in my bed with me, and I do wish we had more of a variety of ways to put him to sleep.
I will not lie to you. Co-sleeping has its pros and cons. But to me, and my husband- the pros definitely outweigh the cons. And its not like Levi will be in junior high, sleeping with us. When he's ready, he will sleep alone and thats okay with us. We have put our bed on the ground and we have a toddler mattress next to the bed. Some times I will nurse Levi to sleep on that and he will sleep there for a couple hours. And as he gets older I think he will sleep there. I can't even imagine him being in his own room yet, so I don't see that happening in the near future.
Bottom line- co-seeping works for us. We love bed sharing and we can't imagine it any other way.
5. BELIEF IN THE LANGUAGE VALUE OF YOUR BABY'S CRY
"A baby's cry is a signal designed for the survival of the baby and the development of the parents. Responding sensitively to your baby's cries builds trust. Babies trust that their caregivers will be responsive to their needs. Parents gradually learn to trust in their ability to appropriately meet their baby's needs. This raises the parent-child communication level up a notch. Tiny babies cry to communicate, not to manipulate."
I am a firm believer in this. Babies cry to communicate and I cannot imagine setting Levi down and letting him cry. Why would he trust me if I don't respond when he needs me. I know this sounds harsh and not everyone agrees but I have heard Levi cry and it kills me. With that being said, there are times that Levi will be overly tired or go through phases where he doesn't want to nurse and he'll just lay in my arms and cry. But the whole time he does that, I am there talking to him and patting his back. And that is the difference between that and crying-it-out.
I know that as babies get older, they do learn to "manipulate" in a way because they know how you will react and they know the ways to get a reaction out of you. But come on, they aren't sitting there thinking "alright, if I cry long enough, Im sure mom will come back. Im just going to cry to see what happens". They cry for a reason and even if that reason is because they are scared or for the simple fact that they want mom or dad, that is a reason and as a mother, I cant imagine not responding.
6. BEWARE OF BABY TRAINERS
Attachment parenting teaches you how to be discerning of advice, especially those rigid and extreme parenting styles that teach you to watch a clock or a schedule instead of your baby; you know, the cry-it-out crowd. This "convenience" parenting is a short-term gain, but a long-term loss, and is not a wise investment. These more restrained styles of parenting create a distance between you and your baby and keep you from becoming an expert in your child.
This is a big one. I have gotten a lot of criticism from people for co-sleeping, nursing to sleep and not letting Levi cry-it-out. At first, I started to listen to all the advice I got. I even laid Levi in his crib (that only happened about 3 times) and let him cry because that is what everyone told me to do and I hadn't done research.
Its really hard when everyone tells you the way you should do it and nobody supports your decision. So what I found was helpful was doing the research myself. After I did the research, I became confident in what I was doing because I had reasons and now I am doing exactly what I feel is best. I would never do anything that I think would harm of be unhealthy for Levi and I stand by each decision I make. I am very proud of my parenting style and I think you should do. Do your research and stand by your decision.
In your zeal to give so much to your baby, it's easy to neglect the needs of yourself and your marriage. As you will learn the key to putting balance in your parenting is being appropriately responsive to your baby – knowing when to say "yes" and when to say "no," and having the wisdom to say "yes" to yourself when you need help.
This is a working progress. I wish that I could tell you all the ways I have mastered this and that I have perfect balance. But, that would be a lie. I tend to be a bit extreme so when I do something (like becoming a mother) I put everything into it and other things fade into the background. This is not the healthy and I have learned that. Before I became a mother, I was a wife and that is still very important. Thankfully I have a wonderful husband who is patient and understanding.
I am not perfect. I am learning as I go and I will always have room for improvement. The important thing is that I try my hardest and I believe in my parenting style. I am confident in what I do and proud of the way I am raising my son!