I was blessed to be able to watch my babies as they were born – as they emerged from me. One came out wide awake face facing towards mine, his violet eyes wide open staring at me. The other stayed studiously asleep through the whole process and only woke when he had to – to feed, and was barely awake then. I was at that moment in my own world with them. It was lovely to have my husband there. But it was me who’d given birth.
An email that dropped into my inbox about newborns’ capacity and need for communication reminded me of those dramatic first hours after birth. Were my babies ‘talking’ to me as soon as they arrived? For that’s what new research claims. Of course, once you think about it, it is obvious that they were. They had to be. Vital and sentient when still within the safety of my body before birth, what on earth must they feel in the air outside and suddenly detached? Perilous and precarious, I would imagine. Which is why bonding, the mother and baby communicating and staying as physically close as possible, for as long as possible, is so fundamental.
This, I think, was really what Marij Eliens from the Netherlands, was talking about at the What About the Children? (WATCh?) conference last week when she reported her new findings. Yet her press release studiously avoided mention of the word mother. Mothers no longer uniquely exist, it seems – not even straight after birth in that first hour. According to her press release, they have already morphed into replicable uni-sex parents – even though it is only the mother who biologically gives birth, even though it is only the mother that can keep her child alive by breastfeeding him.
Double speak denying nature.
Marij is obviously keen to communicate all she knows about babies’ non verbal communication needs in their first hour. But with their parents – as though a baby’s first communications in this, its first minutes of life, were equally between mother and father. However much she like that to be the case, biology dictates otherwise.
Of course Marij is far from the first child expert to assiduously avoid the politically incorrect M word. It’s now standard fare for politicians and child development academics talking about ‘early attachment’ or what happens when the babe in arms finds itself not in arms and suffers what used to be called maternal deprivation. That term too now is avoided, though it is a matter of researched scientific observation. The feminists got on to discrediting this theory back in the 1970s and have never let up. The gender parity agenda demands it be written out of the script – an example of facist feminism or matricide.
Up until I heard some of the country’s leading child psychology experts giving evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Group for Conception to Age 2 – The First 1001 Days, I’d assumed that ‘parent’ was simply the standard politically correct usage to disguise the absence of fathers – so as not to stigmatise single mums. It became clear there was more to it. None of us were mothers any longer. Parity ideology demanded we deny the role. And how best to effect that than ban the word mother?
Now here I was reading an ‘expert’ on the very first hour of babies’ lives conforming to this new orthodoxy as though the mother wasn’t necessary.
Yet it is mothers who need to understand the nine distinct messages Marij tells us babies can convey during their first hour:
- “I’m unsure”
- “I’m relaxed”
- “I want to look at you”
- “I want to move”
- “I want to rest”
- “I’m energised”
- “I want to know you”
- “I’m hungry”
- “I’m tired”
It is wonderful that her films illustrating this have been widely shown across Dutch hospitals. It is in character with the Dutch approach to both their maternal and family responsibilities. Not only do Dutch women seem to like having babies more (they have a higher proportional number of children than their EU sisters) the majority also still get married before they do it ( 80 per cent) – only 20 per cent are ‘single parents’. Also unlike their EU counterparts the majority of mothers in Holland will only ever work part time after they have children when they permanently decrease their working hours.
Their greater sensitivity to children’s needs and to their maternal responsibilities may well be why children from the Netherlands are amongst the happiest in the world (high on the ranking of children’s wellbeing in all the 21 developed countries) by comparison with the UK’s children who are at the bottom.
There is a lesson in this for us. There is also one for the Dutch. They should resist the politically correct orthodoxy that has already banned the mother word here.
The days of their children’s happiness may be numbered if they don’t.