The last week I was on prac for my course. I spent a week at an Early Childhood & Family Centre. I loved it, and learnt so much. The Centre provides all sorts of services to the community with children under the age of 4. They run mothers groups, support groups, sleep and settling classes, newborn home visits, and your regular developmental checks such as 6 month/12 month checks. It is a place where families can take their child really for anything, and the nurse can provide the right education/ support/ referrals.
One thing that struck me during the week was the amount of parents that are struggling with babies that cry, and are not sleeping well. It is something happening so often, and puts a massive strain on a family. The mothers that came to the sleep and settling class looked exhausted, and obviously desperate for help. As the nurse running the class said “sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture!”. It is no joke what these families are going through, and needs to be taken very serious.
It became apparent that a lot of these women used this class as a place to vent, and a form of therapy. Many just wanted to voice their pain, and feel safe enough to do so. It was heart breaking to see these women share their stories, and how desperate they were.
After the class I had a chance to chat with the nurse running the class and she made some interesting points. She said that it’s all good and well teaching a mother to settle her baby, but the home dynamics and situation is really what makes it work. An example is a women at the class who had a husband that worked double shifts, and needed to sleep. He was the bread winner, and financially supported the family. The mother was so scared to wake the husband, that she literally had her baby on her breast 24/7 to keep the baby quiet. So now she has a 3 month old baby that won’t sleep unless she is holding it. To simply give her some instructions and send her home seems rather pointless. It is a complex problem, and not something that is fixed in a day.
Another point the nurse made is that the way we interpret crying will depend how we react to it. She explained that depending what our history and memories are with crying will depend how well we handle it when our own baby cries. An example is if a woman was abused as a child, her memories of crying will be a lot more traumatic. So when that womans baby cries, that crying could possibly bring back awful memories and feelings from her past that will dictate then how she handles her baby crying.
So a baby crying can mean different things to different people. It is easy to judge others, or brag about how great your baby is. But if there is one thing I have learnt this week is that we all have a past, and all have our vulnerabilities. We all want the best for our babies, and strive to be the best parent we can be. Some people just have better coping skills than others. Some people are better equipped with the tools for handling a challenging baby. With that being said, from now on I will be more supportive of my fellow mothers and fathers out there. It is a huge job being a parent!!