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Archive for the ‘Early motherhood’ Category

Being Good Enough

Monday, April 26th, 2010

On the same subject as ‘brining up babies’ that has been in the press recently, there was a fantastic half hour on Radio 4

Between Ourselves: Series 5 where Olivia O’Leary talks to Laverne Antrobus , and educational psychologist, and Oliver James, the now very successful author and child psychologist about what children actually need, and what we can do as parents to bring up happy, emotionally healthy children. I highly recommend a listen.

An Inconvenient Truth

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

This is a letter I sent to the Guardian this week in response to a comment by Zoe Williams ( who herself was responding to a very interesting article Baby Wars: parenting guru cries foul over Queen of Routine’s tough-love approach

I highly reccomend reading the article. My letter is below.

I disagree with Zoe Williams ( For Crying Out Loud, Thursday April 22nd). I am all for showing compassion to mothers- they are undervalued enough as it is- but stifling the critics and the debate smacks of political correctness gone mad. We seem to have developed an ‘anything goes’ mentality where we now avoid the difficult parenting and birth conversations in case we make someone feel guilty. Yet science has made huge leaps over the last decade and we are now capable of plotting the development of the human brain like never before. The importance of touch and of responding to a baby’s early cries can no longer be underestimated. This does, and should, throw new light on the parenting debate. It is, to borrow a phrase, an inconvenient truth to some that parenting is and needs to be intensive in the beginning, but to imply otherwise is simply doing mothers a great disservice. Everyone is up in arms if it is doscovered that we have been misled by a corporation, or if an industry seeks to withhold the facts- the cigarette industry immediately springs to mind. Knowing the facts doesn’t take away our choices, it simply makes them informed.
Nicole Croft
Buddhabellies

Article in The Mother Magazine

Monday, December 17th, 2007

Nicole Croft has an article entitled ‘Contented babies’ published in the latest edition (Issue 25 Nov/Dec 2007) of The Mother magazine. For more information or to order a copy visit their website www.themothermagazine.co.uk

Bringing up Babies

Monday, October 8th, 2007

I am in the very unusual position of not having a television, but I have been told by a number of people of the new series that is on at the moment ‘Bringing up Baby’, exploring different methods of child-rearing. It is, by all accounts, causing quite a stir!

That we adhere to a method of bringing up babies at all is in itself questionable- apparently when women in a small community in Southern India were told that we have manuals on how to bring up children they were all amazed, even shocked. For them, child-rearing is as natural as eating, and not something that needs taught. The best advice I was ever given on the subject of bringing up a baby was trust your instincts and take your time. Perhaps the methods are therefore for the time poor? Or maybe our reliance on methods is a sad indictment on our lack of community and the fact that many a poor modern mother brings up her baby in isolation. How are we meant to know what to do, when the first baby we handle is our own? Is it any suprise that we turn to books when in times past we would have asked a friend or sister or mother or aunt?So like it or not, the methods are with us, and hence the debate. Opinions abound, and our politically correct society suggests we should be accepting of everyone’s choices. Except I fear that many choices are often made without full knowledge of how a baby’s brain develops. When studies were done in Romanian orphanages it was concluded unequivocally that physical nurture; hugs and kisses and proximity to another peson, was even more important than food and warmth. Those babies who were denied love did not survive. Those who were given a lot of love almost always did.

Science has made extraordinary developments in its ability to map the brain and our capacity to love. Before making any decisions on how to bring up your baby, consider the long-term impact of what you are doing. “A General Theory of Love” by Lewis, Amini and Lannon and Michel Odents wonderful ‘The Scientification of Love” are both very worthwhile reads.

As a very dear friend and mentor once said to me, every family is an ecosystem. You need to find your own way with your baby and work out what is best for you all. Different ways will be right at different times and in different situations. Do what feels right, not what someone tells you to do. But whatever happens, don’t fall for the modern and misplaced idea that a loved baby who is held and nurtured is somehow spoilt. Independence is not foisted on a person. It is taken by them as they grow and is borne of love and trust. Nurture your baby well, and they will become the independent, secure and happy little people you want them to be.

Not enough sleep

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

There was a story on Radio 4 the other day commenting on some new research out which suggested that the average mother gets only 3 1/2 hours sleep a night during the first four months of her baby’s life. The woman that they interviewed in response to these findings- the writer of the Good Sleep Guide- suggested that we all needed to get stricter with our babies as one possible solution. First of all the idea that we need to be strict with a baby under the age of 1 seems extraordinary to say the least. Contrary to what our society attempts to portray, babies are not manipulative creatures who go out of their way to make life difficult. Whilst the first year is trying at times for even the best of mum’s it is because human beings are born utterly dependent and have intense needs- they haven’t made them up, they have them. They need sleep, warmth, food and yes, also comfort. And the last need is as pressing as the first three.

Aside from the implication that babies are out to get us, I find it hard to believe that women get on average 3 1/2 hours sleep. That implies that a lot get no sleep at all. And what, in that study, constitutes a night? Between the hours of 12pm and 5am? The best piece of advice I was ever given was to go to sleep early- and by early I mean really early. If you are in bed by 9 ( boring yes, but it doesnt last forever) then you can get several hours before the clock even chimes midnight- and some other study ( yes they have studied everything!) says that the hours before midnight count for double those after.

The early months of being a mother are hard work. You feel as though your world has been turned upside down, your evenings are no longer your own and yes, you often feel quite sleep deprived. But instead of trying to carry on as normal, bending the baby to your will, try relaxing. If you strip life back to the bear essentials, accept that you are very needed by a very little person and don’t fight their needs, you will find that in no time at all you will be grappling with a marching two year old, will be contemplating nurseries, might well have returned to work- in other words you will get time to yourself back again………you might also find that you look back on that quiet time you had in the beginning with some fondness. There is a huge pressure in our society to be superwoman. If you feel that pressure, then put it off for the first six months at least, and revel in the choice you have made to bring a baby into the world. They are not babies for long.