This article was recently published on the LLL USA New Beginnings Blog.
Looking Back: When Baby Cries
Jan Wojcik, Plantation, Florida
Originally published in January/February 1970 issue of La Leche League News
Editor’s Note: The first issue of La Leche League News, the bimonthly publication for members, was published in 1958. The name changed to New Beginnings in 1985. New Beginnings continued to be published until 2014 when it transitioned to its current blog format at http://www.lllusa.org/blog/.
We League Leaders try so very hard not to color motherhood with only shades of rosy pink. And yet—somehow—new mothers are a little surprised to discover that babies do cry and get upset and can create some very real pandemonium.
The picture of a little baby being always, and instantly, soothed by its mother’s breast is a lovely portrait indeed. “Don’t let your tiny baby cry,” we say, and we mean it. And then we get a phone call. “My baby cries a lot, no matter what I do!” There is a feeling of failing at motherhood if a mother can’t keep her baby happy.
Why does a baby get so upset that nothing (nursing, rocking, walking, music—nothing) calms him and restores serenity to the household? Immature nervous system? Immature digestive system? Tenseness in the home? Only occasionally can we pinpoint the cause. Most often we just have to accept the fact that the baby is upset, and work from there.
Naturally, a mother becomes upset when her baby cannot be comforted. She feels rejected. She feels angry, at the baby because he isn’t cooperating, and at herself because she cannot find the cause and eliminate it. She feels she has failed her baby and herself.
How many times have you heard a friend say, “That baby just cried and cried. I did everything a mother could do, and he still was not comforted. So I just put him in the crib to cry it out.” This is the temptation. What difference does it make whether the baby cries in mother’s arms or in the crib?
Think how overwhelmed the baby must feel. Something is wrong. Probably the baby doesn’t even know what it is. All of us would be frightened if we were crying uncontrollably and didn’t even know why! Wouldn’t we feel better if someone were around to reassure us? To care that we were upset? Wouldn’t we feel rejected if our partner were to say, “Go in the bedroom. I don’t want to be around you until you regain control of yourself.” Don’t we want to be loved in times of stress as well as in times of happiness?