Thursday, June 24, 2010

Baby Mammals

Our chapter leader Amy has long wished to write a blog post about the Pittsburgh Zoo, and I don't want to steal her thunder. But I just read something interesting in my Zoo Insider that made me think about the way our society regards birth and the postpartum period.

There's a little article in the Insider about how one of the sea lions is pregnant. The article says sea lions have about 15% infant mortality and that a huge factor in survival is the mother/baby bond. It emphasizes how crucial it is for moms to accept their pups and begin nursing right away.

When I think back to the way my birth experience affected the early days of my mothering experience, I shudder. I had such a difficult time bonding with my baby, mostly because I was wigged out of my mind on drugs for several weeks, but also because I was in a bad way emotionally. The fact that I didn't even get to lay eyes upon my baby right away meant we instantly got off to a delayed start for our bonding process. But, because of various medical complications from my birth, it was literally weeks until I even looked at my son without painkillers and steroids affecting my vision.

I just feel like it's a little backwards when we totally emphasize the mother/baby bond for zoo mammals and write newsletters about its importance, but yet deliver 33% of our human babies in such a way that breastfeeding and bonding is compromised. What sort of difference might it make if OBs and regular old American families got newsletters about mother/infant bonding, urging everyone to root for new human moms and their babies in this way?

Of course I am rooting for Maggie and her new baby to have a great experience. I also want society at large to know that birth matters and that mothers' experiences are really, really important for getting our human families off to a strong start.

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