Child Care: Introduction to Child Care

**A patient came to the doctor’s chamber with bruises on his face. On being asked the reason for those bruises, he replied that his friend had just come back from honeymoon. The doctor couldn’t understand the relation between the two events whence he elaborated “you see; it was me who had suggested marriage to my friend.” **

There is an ideal about motherhood, which presumes that a woman is overjoyed when she finds that she is pregnant and going to have a baby in the near future. She spends her time dreaming about her baby. When the baby is born she slips into the maternal role with consummate ease and delight. This, alas, is true only to a limited extent. Actually there are a lot of worries connected with pregnancy, particularly with the first one. There is often a let-down for the mother when the first baby actually is born.

In USA, they have devised dolls whose behaviour is similar to a newborn. It cries, sleeps, feeds and evacuates i.e. does everything that a newborn does. The only hitch with it is that there is no “Off” button. So once it starts crying, it will go on crying till fed or it may go on crying for a prolonged time without any reason and refuse to be soothed. Plus it has odd hours of crying.

Thus it may cry at 2 A.M. when the parents are in deep sleep, disturbing their peace of mind. Why such a doll wasdevised? This is to make the prospective parents realise what childcare is like, how difficult and tough it is, how much sacrifices they have to make of their personal life. Interestingly, 60% of the prospective mothers after their experience with the doll dropped the idea of having a child, at least in the near future.

**When a couple is fresh and newly wed, they are young and carefree. After having two children, they reach middle age. Middle age should be defined as the age in which the middle portion of the body bulges out (i.e. they acquire a paunch). **

When the child is born, it spells the end of the exuberance of youth and also the freedom of the parents, a thing that the father and the mother both so much cherish and may not want to give up. The maidenly figure and the sprightly grace of the woman goes into eclipse and is replaced with a sober, portly mother. The woman realizes with a feeling of dismay that there are limitations set upon everything e.g. social life, late night parties, pursuing hobbies and so many other enjoyments of life.

No more going shopping at the spur of the moment or coming home at odd hours. Instead these type of incidents become far and few, and have to be planned instead of the freedom of decision at the spur of the moment. The spouse’s attention, which used to be exclusively meant for the other, is now divided, as the baby gets its share too. Often the husband feels that he is at the receiving end, as the mother is now more concerned and preoccupied with the baby.

Love for the newborn comes gradually. The mother may expect to recognise the baby as her own blood and flesh at the first instance and to feel an overwhelming surge of maternal feelings of love and affection towards it immediately. But this doesn’t happen the first day and takes time. Thus maternal expectations may be belied leading to a feeling of disappointment in the mother, who should understand that it is a gradual process rather than an instantaneous “love at first sight” affair. As the mother and child interact with each other daily, they gradually but steadily develop strong emotional bonds based on mutual love and affection.

After delivery there is a common phase, which many mothers undergo, known as “post partum blues.” The mother is depressed, and may burst out into tears spontaneously on petty things. This feeling occurs with a lot of mothers and is transient. Coping with it is easier if the mother is aware of it, knows that a lot of others also face the same situation and is reassured that it is a temporary phase. The mother can pursue some hobby or talk it out with his husband or friends. She can have cheerful company of friends around to lessen the feeling of loneliness and depression. The mother may feel “blue” because she may perceive the husband to be indifferent.

The husband may feel left out because of the attention being showered on the baby. Thus it may become a vicious cycle. So the mother should remember to pay some of her attention to the husband plus encourage him in the care of the baby. The husband should also be aware of this phenomenon and try to lift the spirits of the wife rather than thinking that post-delivery her attitude has changed and she has become “attention seeking.”

For the second or third child also, the parents, particularly the mother may have periods of doubts and negative feelings. She may have doubts as to whether she will have the time and energy to devote for the care of the next child. These types of reactions occur in the best of parents and usually are temporary, as they have already gone through the challenges and ordeals of the first childbirth and so are experienced. Further the child’s arrival proves less of a challenge than the parents anticipated and sooner rather than later everything falls into groove and life, with some more adjustments, again becomes smooth and mundane.

**In a sermon, a priest said, “God created us all.” A youngster stood up and shouted, “You are wrong. My father is a scientist and he says that we came from monkeys.” The priest said, “He is right, because we are not talking about your family, but the rest of us.” **

For the parents, the birth of a baby, after 9 long months in the womb of the mother, is a very important event. The baby signals its arrival by crying, as if protesting against leaving the warmth and security of the mother’s womb to arrive in a new, unknown world. What is compelling about the baby is its innocence and tenderness. For the mother, it is a blissful moment of contentment. She was carrying it up so far, dreaming about it and now it is just like a dream come true.

A few days with the baby and the parents come rapidly to the ground realities. They start realising that the small bundle of joy which cannot do anything by itself, is in fact a very tremendous responsibility. Blissfully unaware of the commotion it has created and “life will never be the same again” sobering feeling of the parents, it cries and sleeps, cries and sleeps; a cycle punctuated only by its feeding.

How to rear this soft and delicate, helpless but very sweet and tiny replica of the parents?

This Category of articles are not an exhaustive treatise on child-care. It is meant to be simple, easily understandable and to make for enjoyable reading. If this makes parents more confident and less anxious in baby care, I will consider I have succeeded, for the purpose of this Category is to make child-care better and enjoyable.

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