Monday, 4 May 2015

Why African Babies Don't Cry

Well, I've hit the 7 month mark and it's starting to dawn on me that I have to go through child birth again! You'd think I'd have realised this before now! It's going to hurt, but I'm going to have the wonder drugs again and it will all be over within a day, is the mantra going on in my head at the moment. Strangely though, I'm not worried about sleepless nights and endless crying, basically because I didn't go through that with my daughter. No she wasn't an angel child, a one off perfect baby, what made all the difference was I listened to my partner.

Angel Baby

Africans look after newborns in an entirely different way to us Europeans. They cosleep, they breast feed and wear their babies constantly on their backs, when they're not attached to the boob, as the norm. The mother is 100% available for the baby and bugger everything else. My partner took a complete backseat when our daughter was born, but not in a bad way. He carefully stayed close enough to us to keep an eye out and offer advice and support that I was doing the right thing, but he slept in a different bed, there was no pressure for us to resume our sex life. In his mind, and education, baby came first and I as the mother should be there for her 24/7. If she started to cry, he would simply say put her on the breast. My inital reaction was, but she's already been fed she can't still be hungry! But he was right, she just wanted to be on the breast, it was her comfort. We coslept, I can't recall ever having a sleepless night with her when she was a newborn. She would wake up, sniff out the boob, feed and fall back to sleep, 9 times out of 10 I would bearly stir, just long enough to make sure she wouldn't choke!

African Baby and Mother

I couldn't carry her on my back because I have back problems and she was a chunky baby, but the constant closeness to me meant she didn't suffer from collic. A few times we went through the 7pm screaming, but overall I would just stop whatever I was doing and sit down and put her on the breast. Within minutes she'd nod off.

Sounds like I was a prisoner to my baby! But quite the opposite, I was more able to put her down and do things than I could see my friends were able to with their newborns. I would surround her with big cushions and make a sort of cushion fort around her to make her feel safe, and I was free to breathe. I went back to work when she was 2 and a half months, French maternity leave being the shortest in the world! But it wasn't a problem. My little girl felt safe and loved. She never questioned that I wouldn't be there for her, so she would gurgle away happily in her carry cot, safe in the knowledge that when hunger struck or the world suddenly became overwhelming, Mummy would be there.

Cushion Fort Baby

So as much as I'm not looking forward to the pain and the pushing, I'm comforted my the memories of my daughter as a newborn and safe in the knowledge that my partner has got my back.

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