The Anxieties of New Moms and the Hospital Experience
One of the most daunting first time moms face is breast feeding for those women who make that choice. Today, more women are opting for breast feeding because it is healthier for the infant and promotes bonding between infant and mom.
Does that sound strange that breast feeding could be a daunting task for first time moms? There may be a tendency to believe that being a mom is bred into women as an instinct. An instinct is an unlearned complex pattern of behavior. In human beings, there are no instincts. In other words, we need to learn how to do everything. Yes, we are aided by reflexes. Reflexes are simple and automatic behaviors. For example, sucking is a reflex. Breathing is a reflex. Blinking is a reflex. Behavior such as these are controlled by the brain stem and occur without thinking about it. Unlike reflexes, caring for a baby requires a great deal of human learning.
As a result of needing to go through a learning curve, many new moms face lots of anxiety. Their anxieties stem from such problems as getting the baby to suckle at the beast, getting the breast milk to flow, changing diapers, bathing the infant, comforting the baby when it cries for no apparent reason, and many more types of situations that can cause worry.
Not all first time moms worry about the same things and not all first time moms experience the same level of anxiety. A lot depends on the temparment and self confidence of the mom, whether or not she experienced natural child birth and how supportive a family she had. A lot also depends upon past experience with babies, while growing up in the family. Some women had thorough and complete experiences with witnessing and helping with everything when babies were born into the family.
However, many other women enter first time motherhood with lots of fears and anxieties. These fears are increased for those who need emergency C-sections to deliver their babies. The reason for the increase in anxiety is due to the fact that they have a lot of post surgery pain, making it difficult to nurse and care for the infant. In addition, milk flow is usually delayed because of anesthesias. Yet, even mothers who are able to have natural child births may go through an adjustment period having to do with milk flow.
Then, too, not all babies begin to use the sucking reflex easily or automatically. Mom and infant go through some adjustment to one anther until both learn how to feel comfortable and experience a satisfying breastfeeding.
As a result of this and many other variables, first time moms often have lots of questions and need and ask for lots of help in getting them and baby adjusted to the first few days of infant life.
What I am leading the reader to is the notion that not all mothers should be discharged from the hospital at one set time. Quite to the contrary, a good hospital with a savvy and caring nursing staff, provides a lot of aid, counseling, teaching and demonstration, to the mother, about how to handle nursing and the many other concerns that arise.
There have been a number of mothers who have informed me that mothers should have the option of remaining in the hospital longer, if needed. The term "need" refers to extra time to gain more knowledge and help from nurses so that they can return home feeling confident about how to care for baby. Again, what was emphasized to me is that there is no one set time for every woman. Some may go home after three days after a C-section because they do not need any more time. Others may need an extra day to help them learn and adjust. Even mothers who experience natural child birth may, sometimes, want an extra hospital day for the same reason.
The idea is that hospitals should adjust to the needs of the individual mom rather than the other day around. Psychologically, the feelings of bonding between mom and baby, as well as the sense of confidence a mother feels in her ability to handle things, can have lasting impact for the well being of the child.
What are your comments and questions about this critically important issue. Your comments, questions and experiences are encouraged.
Allan N. Schwartz, PhD.