The “What Happened To Mothering” Series

The “What Happened To Mothering?” Series

Part 1: Mother Love Used To Matter

In the 20th century, after the fad of focusing only on the physical needs of infants and the rash of infant deaths as a result, doctors and therapists concluded that impersonal nursing care was to blame. Mother love was key to keeping infants alive and growing well. Here is a description about what that looks like from a physician who did studies with hundreds of infants and mothers.

Dr. Margaret Ribble, M.D., summarized her findings in her book, The Rights of Infants. She discussed how modern medicine had focused on baby nutrition and hygiene even to the extent of assuming a nurse could replace a mother’s care. Institution after institution had provided nurse-type care to infants (patients or orphans) and a wave of marasmus (wasting away) took the health and even lives of many.

Part 2: What Is “Good Enough” Mothering?

Mothers, by and large, have the instincts to be good enough mothers. The processes of pregnancy and birth and postnatal life need vast support but also noninterference of natural rhythms, including initial breastfeeding and bonding, by professionals or culture. There is the beginning of mental health.

Part 3: What Does Empathy Look Like For Babies? And Its Absence?

As long as a child feels wanted and loved in the early months and years, they can be quite resilient to sudden changes later on. Meanwhile, it is important to support parents’ empathic responses toward their infants and young children.

Part 4: Disbelieving The Importance Of Mothering

A better focus for books by mothers stressed by baby’s needs would be on changing social support systems instead of adjusting down our provision for children’s basic needs.  Every economically-advanced nation has paid parental leave, except the USA…

Let’s reassure mothers around us that it is good for their children if mother shows mother love and empathic care. Fathers too.

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