THE FIRST SIX MONTHS: Getting Together with Your Baby by Penelope Leach

THE FIRST SIX MONTHS: Getting Together with Your Baby

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Leach (Your Baby and Child) here carols the joys of motherhood and elaborates on her belief that the baby must come before all else if it is to develop properly. Leach believes that mothers are instinctively geared to respond to their babies' needs. They are, however, she says, often confused by a society that pays ""lip-service"" to motherhood but stresses ""individual fulfillment"" through careers. She also points out that society provides little help to mothers who want to stay home and care for their infants. It is impossible, she says, to ""spoil"" a baby by responding to its every need. The infant's only language when it is hungry, uncomfortable, frightened or ill is a cry. If the mother responds promptly with her breast milk, with a gentle rubbing to bring up gas, with cuddling and rocking or with just a diaper change, the baby's needs are satisfied. An infant is thus reassured that the strange world outside the womb is a safe and good place. He/she will become less anxious and, says Leach, less fussy. This constant ministration is, of course, time-consuming and often exhausting. The trick, says Leach, is to ""revel"" in the relationship and ""wallow"" in your baby's smiles. She warns against those who tell mothers they are losing their identity or advise that crying ""exercises the lungs."" She also metes out some counseling on how to help the father and a sibling toddler adapt to the infant and your suddenly revelling, wallowing self. Leach's advice is obviously not for new mothers who must return quickly to the workplace. For those able to stay at home, her message is reassuring and--despite a tendency to purple prose--basically sensible. She, however, makes no bones about the work and its aftermath. Her tidings, that most new mothers also feel ""shaken up like a kaleidoscope"" with their ""past lying about. . .like a thousand gleaming fragments"" while, at the same time, they are besieged by ""storms of emotion,"" will help many realize they are not alone.

Pub Date: Feb. 28th, 1987
Publisher: Knopf