Thursday, April 22, 2010

Hold Me, I Need a Good Cry!

For a minute, close your eyes and remember how it felt the last time you cried in the arms of someone you love? Afterwards, did you feel better? Perhaps, relieved, relaxed, and totally connected to that person?

We all need a good cry, now and then, even your baby. Crying is healthy for us and its healing function begins at birth. It is believed that stress-relief crying, early in life, helps prevent emotional and behavioral problems later. But this healing process is only effective if the baby is allowed to cry in the safety and comfort of a parents loving arms.

Let’s be quite clear. I am not talking about babies who are left to “cry-it-out” alone. As you know, I do not advocate sleep training - it’s against everything I believe, not to mention, I don’t buy into the BS that a baby “learns” to sleep.

Now, the ugly truth, what they do learn from sleep training.

#1 They can no longer trust you or anyone.

#2 They are truly powerless and should just give up.

#3 They are not a worthy enough for someone to help them

#4 Their crying leads to feelings of despair and sadness

#5 Their anxiety and fear will be a normal part of life.

FYI- This is how it really works:
When you plop them in their crib, awake and alone, their nervous system signals life-threatening danger and then they are programmed to cry. This escalates into severe stress and distressful crying followed by quieting, with emotional and physical withdrawal. This is called the protest-despair response. This response is associated with high levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, which permanently alters certain brain structures which are involved with memory and vulnerable to stress.
Oh yeah, and when you come into their room in the morning and they greet you with that big smile and they are so happy to see you!! It’s because they feared something horrible happened to you and that they would never see you again. Dramatic but true.

Babies are vulnerable, feeling human beings who you need to be attuned to, quickly respond to and nurture. They need to be loved unconditionally, good nights and bad.

Now, for the therapeutic side of things, crying does help babies release stress and heal from trauma, as long as all their current needs are met and they are not suffering from a medical condition. But babies should always be held in arms and never left to cry alone.

There are many sources of stress for babies. When a pregnant mother is anxious or depressed, the baby can be stressed even before birth. Some other reasons could be; fear, pain and trauma at birth, colic, allergies, over stimulation, high frustration prior to attaining developmental milestones and frightening events.

Crying-in-arms is a healthy release for babies.  So, this is how you can help.  First, make sure there is nothing wrong, make sure they have been fed, changed and not sick.  Then, you need to relax and honor your baby’s attachment needs and just hold her, go into a peaceful room and get into a comfortable chair, look in her eyes and talk, gently reassuring her and allow her to release the stress of whatever is bothering her. Listen respectfully to what she is trying to tell you.  Before you know it, you’ll both be asleep!

This is the child who will always feel she can come to you and confide in you, no matter how serious the matter. Cry in your arms and be comforted, no matter how old she is.  A kinder, gentler soul.
Isn't this the legacy you'd like to leave behind?