I've been asked by several if we practice Attachment Parenting. I've heard the term enough times that I decided to look it up and see for myself if I am (as some claim) an AP parent (I don't even know if that's the correct terminology.)
Before having Jasper I didn't obsess and read a billion books on how to be a parent. Yes I read my what to expect book and a Girlfriends Guide to Pregnancy ( LOVE IT) religiously, but that was it. I think I just knew that I would be a good mom. That might sound silly or vain, but it's how I felt. I certainly wasn't an expert (so far from it) but I grew up having the most amazing, loving mom ever, and I knew the few things I would need to be a good parent I would have covered. Like loving my child unconditionally. I didn't need to read a book to tell me. I know there are those that read a ton of parenting books before even having a baby, and decide, based on these books and theories what type of parent they will be. That just never sat right with me. For me, I knew whatever would come naturally would probably be what works best for us. Not some check list of what kind of mom I need to be.
So out of curiosity, I did look up an AP check list, so let's see if I fit the 'mold' for that.
Now I just read about this theory from a website and this is my interpretation of what it says, I haven't read countless (or any) books on this
Birth Bonding: Bond with baby as much and as long as possible after birth. Baby needs to be held close and hear familiar voices and mother needs to be able to express her maternal feelings.
After my 27ish hr labor, they placed Jasper on my chest for about 1 minute before they whisked him away for some tests, weighings and what not and Drew went with him leaving me in the hospital bed to be stitched up (too many stitches for them to count.) At this point they also had to give me a shot to stop the hemorrhaging- i lost way to much blood and they even had blood brought up for transfusions. They shot made me throw up about every 5 minutes for the next 5-6 hours. When they finally brought Jasper back maybe an hour later, they handed me him, and almost immediately I had to have someone take him because I had to throw up again. So yeah, not a whole lot of bonding went on that afternoon. That evening my mom and sister came back to the hospital and asked Drew what he wanted to eat (popsicles were all I could handle for 24 hrs) and of course he wanted Chinese- which is probably THE worst smell when you are sick so I said he could have it as long as he went and ate it in the cafeteria. So my mom, sister and Drew all went to eat and it was finally my first time alone with Jasper. That's when I stared into his eyes and new I was a goner. At that point I would have done anything in the world to protect him from even an ounce of pain. But right after birth? I don't think I felt the maternal bond quite yet- I was in too much pain and throwing up too much to think about anything. So I guess for this one I get a Negative on the AP scale. This baby will be a c-section so I'm guessing I won't get a whole lot of bonding that first hour or two, and I don't think that makes me any less of a mother.
Breastfeeding: Breast is best. For baby and mother. Skin to skin bonding is necessary and makes baby feel loved and secure. blah blah blah.
I think EVERYONE in the entire universe has been preached this. From what I understand about AP though is it's the ONLY way to feed your child and be a good mother. Maybe that's a little extreme- but that's what I get from it. Do I agree that breast is best? Absolutely. Do I think it makes you a better mom because you breastfed your baby till they are in preschool? Uhm. No. Certainly don't. Did I breastfeed Jasper? I certainly tried. I never made a whole lot of milk and Jasper lost almost a pound so they wanted me to pump and feed him so I could see how much he was eating. The poor kid was starving in the beginning! After just 2-3 weeks he was wanting 4 oz a feeding and I would pump for 40 min and get MAYBE 2 oz. So we pretty much had to supplement from the start. Finally by 6 weeks I was pumping (and still nursing when I could get him to latch) and getting 3 oz and I was thrilled! I had about 75% of his feedings covered. And it was getting better. Sure it sucked being hooked up to a pump half the time, I felt like a cow, literally, but I was doing it. And then at 6 weeks the OB convinced me to get a birth control shot ( I get it, I was 21 and she prob. didn't want me to turn around pregnant 2 months later) but what she failed to tell me is that it could dry my milk up. And it did. Within a week I was pumping around the clock getting an ounce at a time. I let this go one for another couple of weeks miserable, being hooked up to a pump 5 hrs a day and only making enough for maybe 2 feedings. So I quit. And felt such guilt. Will I try to breastfeed this babe? Hell yeah. And I've done more research this time, and have more confidence in myself to do this than at 21. But if for some reason I'm unable to, I refuse to feel guilty or less of a mother. So again, this would be a negative for me on the AP scale because I don't think formula is the devil.
Responding to baby; when a baby cries, respond to those cries. Every single one, immediately. Baby learns to trust you. Babies don't have a schedule, so don't try to get a feeding/sleeping schedule.
Basically sums it up? This one is harder for me to say where I lie. We had it So so easy with Jasper. Because, he DIDN'T CRY! I'm not kidding, it's okay to hate me. He would fuss sure, but full on wails? I didn't hear that till he got his 2 month shots and I about peed my pants from shock because I'd never heard him fully cry. We fed him on schedule every 3 hrs during the day and every 4 hrs at night. On the dot. I had alarms going off and everything. I would have to wake him, undress him, blow on his belly to get him to wake up so I could feed him. Once awake he would suck those ounces down, but he never really cried form hunger or anything because I fed him before he really Was hungry. This time I won't be such a drill Sergeant, I will let baby girl let Me know when she is hungry, tired, cold, etc. But again I'm going to get a big fat negative on the AP scale because I don't necessarily think you need to jump the second baby grunts or makes a whimper either. I didn't with Jasper and I think he's turning out pretty damn good. And at 6 months I did start to get him on a schedule which over 4 years later is proving to Still work amazingly. So I guess so far I'm 0-3 if you are keeping score.
Co-sleeping; babies thrive on skin to skin contact, this is also helpful with breastfeeding. Family beds are great.
Here it is. The big one. I knew this one was coming. And here's the thing that will get me death glares. I'm Not all for bed sharing. And this is coming from the lightest sleeper in the world. I wake up if Jasper sneezes through two closed doors and two white noise fans going. So I know personally I would never roll over baby in the middle of the night. But what about blankets suffocating babies? Agh the thought gives me a minor heart attack. What I AM for though is room sharing (just not bed sharing.) I do believe room (again, not bed) sharing lowers risk of SIDS, I just don't think having baby sleep in bed with us is a good idea. And by us, I mean Drew and I, not OTHER families. I get that it works great for others, and no judgement here- do what works for your family! Jasper slept in a bassinet in our room till he was 6 months old and this baby will too (at least that's the plan!) I loved having him an inch away from me, and the first few weeks especially I swear I woke up every 20 minutes just to check on him, put my hand on his chest so I could feel him breathing.
That being said, that I'm not a fan of bed sharing, I'm a huge hypocrite. When Jasper was about 3 months old he got a horrible horrible cold. He woke himself up coughing every 5 minutes and it was heart breaking to hear his little raspy breathing. I sat up in a chair holding him for the first couple of nights, and finally one night, laid in bed with him on my chest and finally got a few hrs of sleep. It helped him sleep because he was upright and on his belly and it helped ME because I was holding him. That last about 2 weeks of sickness (the sickest he has ever been to this day) and it took another week to 'wean him' from sleeping with me and back in the bassinet he went. So again, you have to do what works best, and sometimes that means going against what you said you would never do. So maybe I get a half a point for this since I do believe in room sharing just not bed sharing?
Babywearing; do it. Constant contact is good and babies that are held often have fewer instinances of colic and helps with bonding.
I held my baby often. Maybe TOO often some say. I didn't do it because a book told me to do it, I did it because he was so sweet and snugly I never wanted to put him down! But I held him in my arms. We had a mai tai but I HATED it- I used it maybe 10 times. It always hurt my back and shoulders. We also had a hiking back pack that we loved and used when hiking, or at the zoo a few times. But we did it more for convenience, not because we thought our son would have less of a bond with us if he was pushed in a stroller. I know some people who baby wear say it's so convenient because with out it they couldn't get anything done. I'm not sure if it's because of how we did things, or if it's because he was just a super easy baby, but if I needed to put Jasper in the bouncy or swing, or on the floor with a blanket so I could get something done, I did it. It didn't (most of the time) result in a crying fit. He's always been great at entertaining himself and that's a GOOD thing. Children need independence as well and don't (in my opinion) need to be entertained or carried all day long. So while I think baby wearing is a great thing to do on a occasion, I don't live by it like it seems AP believers do. Oh and I do plan on trying out some different baby carriers this time around- I just won't be living in one!
Positive Discipline; no spanking, not about punishment but more about guiding your child.
Okay this one I guess I can hop on board with. I'm very anti spanking, and definitely try to guide Jasper instead of dishing out the punishment. But, yes there's a but, I also don't believe bad behavior should go Unpunished. At 4.5 he knows what's expected out of him, he's been guided. So if he chooses not to follow the rule that when we walk out the door to go across the street to where our car is parked he has to wait for mommy, if he chooses to run right out into the road and across the street with out waiting for me like he does patiently on the side walk 99% of the time, he will get a time out. Our time out work like this ' we talk about why he's going in a time out, he has to sit quietly for 4 minutes and think about what he did, then after I ask him why he was in time out and what he should have done differently'. Then it's done and over with. So maybe I don't get a full point for this one if using AP means your child doesn't ever get punished. But again I just read a tiny bit about it so maybe there is some punishment involved. But I definitely agree that you shouldn't shame or scare your child into obeying (which by the way I HATE that word) but teaching him what's right and wrong and that there Are consequences for your actions.
So there is is, my take on AP summed up (I'm sure if I read more about it I could give more details) but I think I know enough about it by now to say I definitely don't fit into an AP mold. Yes I will try to breast feed, and wear my baby when it's convenient, but I don't buy into the whole ' have to run and respond to baby's every whimper' and sharing a bed with baby (and apparently toddler and child?) is the way to go for our family.
And for the record, I am kind of surprised I'm not more AP- since I consider myself kinda crunchy.
And also for the record, I feel perfectly bonded with my son, even though I didn't follow a check list on how to get there :)
So AP parents, do you follow every 'rule' of the Attachment Parenting check list? Or do you pick and choose what works for your family?