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Although the Industrial Revolution changed everything by making life easier, our biology remains the same. We no longer have to hunt or gather or grow our food. Time is freed. Now we can store food for weeks or years in refrigerator/freezer (freeing us), heat or air conditioning is provided (making us more comfortable) … and on and on. We no longer have to walk anywhere. We no longer have to take care of our own health, make our own clothes, build our own homes AND we work for this strange thing called ‘money’ that we then exchange for what we used to make ourselves.

What does this have to do with fathers and mothers? Well someone has to produce the next generation. Pregnancy and childbirth have not changed. Yes, now women can stop conception and choose when they fall pregnant. And yes, close to 40% of all births now end with a modern surgical birth rather than how women have always given birth by having labor contractions and vaginal birth.

Yet underlying all these modern changes is a more fundamental reality that women do carry a baby inside her body just like our earliest ancestors did. This triggers changes toward her ‘becoming’ a mother. This is a biological change that does not occur if you adopt a child. When you adopt a child you have to choose to become a mother or father. The change occurs within the brain but not the body. This does not take away from adoption and after a biological birth, the brain has to kick in.

Bonding or not

Bonding is something that actually grows through the Mind and not the body as it does in other animals. Even for women who have carried a baby for 9 months, many, many, many do not bond immediately after birth OR for months and months afterward. This often shocks women and men. If you have your ear to the topic of bonding you might be aware of postpartum (postnatal) depression. A mother or father suffering from postpartum depression does not feel bonded to their baby.

If you know nothing about bonding then it’s something you absolutely MUST research. This lack of bonding can devastate women who feel like a total failure when they do not spontaneously bond and even have very violent and destructive thoughts toward their baby. This can happen to men too. Many men do not bond to newborns particularly if they have not known how to grow their fatherhood skills during pregnancy, learned how to prepare the woman’s pregnant body to give birth AND had birth-coaching skills to also help her give birth. When these three things do not happen then detachment toward the baby is common … and how sad.

We’ll talk about both mothers and fathers repeatedly in this blog but what I want you to get from this entry is that you won’t always know how a woman is feeling about her child even if she seems to be tenderly caring for it.

Observing mothers

As you watch mothers care for their children notice that some women can be very snippy with their children and others overly protective. Mothering qualities also must grow in women, they do not come automatically, intuitively or instinctively. They are learned and grown BECAUSE as you now know each of us could be brought up in any culture, therefore, we always have to learn what our culture does … it’s not automatic.

In fact, the only two really spontaneous reactions to babies are these: protection and kill it. How terrible to say that but it’s true. When a newborn or young child cries and cries and cries and cries the first reaction is to try to provide comfort and care. When doing this or that doesn’t work then the urge to do harm to our baby rises inside us although we don’t like to admit it. This rise in the urge to harm a non-responding child happens to many of us throughout their lifetime.

Know this

  • How you feel and how you behave cannot always be aligned … if you feel frustrated with your child you cannot act out that frustration toward your child in a reckless manner nor can the mother. You must learn skills to prevent your self from harming your child. The lack of skills tells you that something in your ‘culture’ has not been passed on to you.
  • Women can feel very confused by having ambivalent feelings toward their children. Somehow women have been given a message that motherhood is a spontaneous rising up within them of unconditional love … not so for many.
  • This means that when you watch mothers, you are not only watching what they do you are actually thinking about how they are feeling at that moment. You are more likely to see this split between feelings and actions.
  • As a man, this can help you to realize we are all human beings and we’re all in this together at this time in history. Our traditional cultures have either broken down or changing rapidly. We have been left without a paddle on a very swift river of change. Now we have to use our phenomenal human Mind to create our own lives. This is challenging and exciting. This frees us to become who we want yet puts a huge responsibility on us to grow and not stay stuck in our own ‘childishness’.
  • Growing these 10 skills during pregnancy, preparing for birth and using birth-coaching skills to truly help at the birth means you will have Continuity of Self as a growing human being.

Your bottom line

Begin to notice how mothers mother. Every mother is unique. She’ll have qualities you admire and others you won’t like. This is good news for you as a man/father. Instead of seeing all mothers as ‘good’ you’ll now see that either a mother or father can have very positive qualities you like and admire or not. People learn skills whether good ones or not. Grow good ones. You’ll be happier and learn new skills to replace bad skills or behaviors you really don’t like.

Head to Udemy for all the Fathers-to-be Pregnancy Academy courses. Then at 24 weeks of pregnancy, come back here for the online birth courses and start with the birth preparation and birth-coaching skills … all developed by hundreds of dads and moms.

Birthing Better skills are housed in Common Knowledge Trust.