Eric was a few months old when he changed from being a model baby (feeding three-hourly and sleeping between feeds with only two night wakings) to the fussy baby his mother has come to know. Now when Eric cries, her stomach knots up and a fine layer of perspiration breaks out on her skin. At two in the morning, when he wakes up for the sixth time and she doesn’t know how long it will take to settle him again, she can feel her agitated heartbeat drumming in her head and the adrenalin pumping through her veins. This is the physical experience of a mother when her baby cries.
Eric’s mom put her career on hold and taking care of Eric is her primary role right now – a role in which she feels pressurized to excel. Once a successful journalist in control of her world, she now feels controlled by the two tiny lungs that bellow forth seemingly around the clock. Eric cries so much that everyone, including his mom, thinks she is somehow not meeting his needs. His granny is quick to ask if he’s hungry and Dad keeps wondering aloud if Eric is ill. His mom is starting to think that she is just a bad mother.
It’s not surprising that she is showing signs of depression. For some weeks she hasn’t slept for longer than two hours at a stretch, and she is not getting the gratification of a happy, smiling baby. But she is far from alone. In the modern world where women are used to the positive feedback associated with a successful career, a fussy baby often elicits feelings of frustration and inadequacy in the new mother.
CRYING PROVOKES POWERFUL EMOTIONS
All babies cry. Crying is a very clear form of communication and is essential for survival. Crying is relatively minimal in most babies for the first two weeks but then increases until it peaks at about six weeks. Thereafter it decreases until at three months it drops off markedly.
Research shows that both how much babies cry and a mother’s perception of how much crying is normal, are extremely variable.
CRYING IN THE EARLY DAYS:
When your baby is crying inconsolably every well meaning aunt and every shopkeeper has a reason and a solution! The real reason for crying may be one of the following:
Discomfort due to a dirty nappy, digestive disturbances such as cramps, bloating, reflux, indigestion, constipation, over feeding, allergies, being too hot or cold and some medical conditions.
Needing to be touched and soothed.
(Excerpt from “Baby Sense” by Megan Faure)