Having been around women who have newborns (that are not so new now, but roughly a few months to 1 year old) I have made a few observations. Some of them are follows.
New mothers have alot of criticism dressed up as well-meaning information/advice thrown at them (insidiously undermining at the best of times). Usually from older women, grandparents, in-laws and other intefering busybodies (usually in the female form). They advise you to wind/burp the baby after its feed by bouncing them up in the air. The spewing milk-vomit that’ll spray out will end up on you and are they going to clean it up? I didn’t think so. Lie the baby on its stomach – it likes that, especially after a feed. And what if it falls asleep and smothers itself in that position? (is that possible? Thinking worse case scenario here).
They advise you to start feeding the baby cultural food, like mashed up indian lentils or buttered chappati’s broken up into small pieces when they’ve barely begun to associate food with swallowing. There is no order with regards to feeding time for the child nor does the child associate the table in the kitchen with dinner time because he/she is bounced from lap to lap and fed all kinds in between the main meals. Who feeds the child slices of cheese when they should be having dinner? Or fizzy drinks like Coke instead of water/fruit juice/milk?
Grandparents especially paternal one’s which depending on where you moved to after marriage will be the one’s who’ll have most contact with the baby for most of its years (until they or you move away elsewhere). For those who live with their inlaws, complaints of taking the baby away for the whole day and playing with it, whilst they lie in bed recovering from the C-section stitches. Perhaps see how the mother of the child is doing since she probably needs attention and aid. It’s little wonder why some new mothers disappear off to their maternal home for a month or 2 after the birth of a baby. They wouldn’t get the same level of care anywhere else. I would like to think otherwise, but really I believe this to be true. Regardless of how well-meaning they may be.
Most of them worry when their baby doesn’t take to their breast for the ceremonious, often sore, painful (at first so i’ve been told) and laborious task of breastfeeding (bf). Some of them consider it slightly problematic should they be out and about – how to bf the baby in public? A woman using her breasts in this manner (for their very purpose and not just a plaything or something to ogle at) is repulsing and considered uncivil and inappropriate. After all she’s flashing her private bits in public. How terrible. Do people really believe women who bf have their bits out like the Playboy bunnies whilst doing so??
Infact why bf (if you can) when they can give formula milk. The baby will be nice and chubby. Everybody likes chubby babies – chubbiness is testimony of the love the mother has for the child (by feeding it of course -how else do you show people you love your baby?). Nevermind that the child wheezes when he/she barely runs a few steps, and breathes like an old man with a collapsible lung. Bottle feed they are told, its better. Ah but we all know breast is best, which however doesn’t always result into a fat, and therefore healthy, baby.
And as mothers are usually responsible for the health of their baby, keeping a close eye on their eating habits come’s into swift play. This is usually compounded by others who wish to feed the baby without even considering to ask the mother if it is ok for them to do so. There is some unexpressed shared “ownership” (for lack of a better descript) of the child, especially if you live with extended family or family pops around. Sweet sugary snacks, fizzy drinks, cakes, crisps, chocolate are the favourite culprits. Is asking the mother if they can feed the baby xyz considered too “Western” a concept, mother is a control freak or perhaps demonstrates lack of trust?
This is just the beginning, wait until the child starts school or when the mother decides to go back to work!
Welcome to the world of babydom.