Monday, 2 June 2014
THE CRISIS OF PARENTHOOD
This isolation is intensified as she realizes that she has to cope with mothering a new and unpredictable baby whose need fill her day and often by night. Even those visitors who come to see her give her conflicting advice, and if she seeks medical advice, she has to wait for about one hour for a five minutes consultation. Her isolation and feeling of strain in trying to cope are intensified if her partner is uncooperative and leaves most of the household chores to the woman who is already over-burdened. No one has told her during her upbringing nor her pregnancy that mothering is not an instinct but has to be learned. No one told her that she will have to adjust to her role; that of been a mother, responsible for a small, dependent baby. She had expected motherhood to be instantaneously joyous, but she found that the joy was often less than the tears and feelings of inadequacy.
At unpredictable hours, the baby asks to be fed, needs to be changed and cries. Crying may be a demand for food, for changing or for cuddling which is needed for its development. But it is difficult to distinguish in the first weeks between a hunger cry, a discomfort cry and a cry for mothering. Faced with the problems of learning how to mother her infant, she lacks sleep and becomes increasingly exhausted. In her exhaustion, she wonders if will ever be able to be a good mother and why is it that she lacks the ability other women appear to have to cope with the small, selfish and continually demanding infant.
Any sexual feeling she may have is dampened by the depression, and this in turn aggravates her anxiety as she worries about her husband's feelings towards her. Her anxiety and depression worsen and can last for weeks. She is in the' crisis of parenthood'.
COPING WITH THE CRISIS OF PARENTHOOD
1. Remember that the period of adjustment is short, and that each day you and your baby will learn to know each other better.
2. In the first weeks, you may find that you have to feed your baby every two hours , but by six weeks, the baby would have established its feeding pattern.
3. If your baby cries too much at first, you can be sure that it will cry less as time goes on . And a baby that cries because it wants to be cuddled and to see and hear what is going on around it is likely to be a more interesting and intelligent child.
4. You can go on doing the things you have to do and still cuddle your baby if you buy a baby sling.
5.If your baby cries a lot at night, wanting food or company, bring it into your bed and let it sleep with you, warm against your breathing body.
6. If at times you feel guilty because you think that you hate your baby for demanding so much from you, do not worry. You do not really hate your baby and the hostile emotion was only a brief reaction to your tiredness.
7. In any crisis, it helps to have a sympathetic person with whom you can share your problem. If you have a close relationship with your spouse, he can care for the baby and relieve you of some of the household chores. He can help change diapers and be generally supportive so that you can have more time to rest.
8. If you have relatives who can help you care for the baby or who can relieve you so that you can get out of the house for a while, do ask them to as this will be very helpful.
REDUCING THE PROBLEMS OF ADJUSTING TO PARENTHOOD
* In schools and at home, education for parenthood should be part of the curriculum for both boys and girls. The course should include discussions of the emotional and psychological changes which occur during pregnancy and after as wells the physical changes which occur so that women can build up confidence in themselves as mothers, and so that men can learn that as fathers they have an important role in helping their partners during the period of adjustment to parenthood.
* In the prenatal months, expectant mothers and fathers should have the opportunity to learn about adjusting to parenthood so that both are involved in the process and both understand that supportive help is needed especially by the new mother.
*Mothers must remind themselves that their feeling of inadequacy are shared by large numbers of other mothers and they are neither alone nor abnormal.
*There should be centres in the community where mothers can meet and share experiences and obtain confidence from more experienced mothers and helpful counsellors.