Bringing Up Baby
After reading the story of Krish’s home birth, a few friends have asked me to share our experiences of bringing up Krish in the last four months. Yes, he is going to be four months old tomorrow! How time flies!
Even before Krish was born, we had decided to bring him up as naturally as possible. The basic keywords were “minimum intervention” and “observe Krish carefully and respond to what he does”. Our spiritual guide Ganoba Date suggested that these were the principles to follow and we have tried to do that.
As soon as Krish was born, he was put to his mother’s breast. The umbilical cord was not cut at that time as it was still pulsating. What I had read was that the umbilical cord was supplying all the nutrients to the child in the womb, including oxygen. At the time of birth, the baby’s systems shift to using oxygen from the air through the lungs, instead of through the umbilical cord. If we cut the umbilical cord immediately at birth, there is a forceful transition from one mode of survival to another. Therefore it is suggested to leave the cord alone for a while, until the baby is gently transits to life outside the womb. That is what we did and it seemed to work quite well.
The umbilical cord
Krish uttered one cry as soon as he was born, and then he was quiet, as he was put to Rita’s breast. He was not held upside down, and bottom slapped to get him to start breathing, as is usually done as I understand. We wanted him to have a gentle introduction to the new world – nothing violent, painful or hurtful. He was suckling for some time – and then he went to sleep against Rita;s body. . He was not given a bath or anything at that time, we just cleaned him up with a soft cloth. After some time, Krish awoke and his eyes were wide open as he was taking in his new surroundings - we have a photo of him taken on within a few hours of his birth. His fists were also open, not tightly clenched. I understand that most babies have their eyes closed and fists clenched. Maybe they went through a traumatic birth experience.
We have not given Krish a single vaccination. In fact, he has not even been to a doctor or pediatrician ever since he was born. Immediately after the birth, we called our family doctor just to check him up- and it turns out it was a good thing, because we needed her certificate to get the birth certificate. Anyway, coming back to vaccination, people have told us that we are either very brave or very foolish – but we think that we are neither.
We believe in Natural Hygiene, that says that germs and viruses are not the primary cause of disease. We believe that a healthy human body is capable of resisting germs, viruses etc and keeping itself healthy. We also believe that the body has got a sophisticated defence and filtering mechanism to prevent harmful organisms from getting into the bloodstream. This starts with the nose and tongue, that will refuse bad smelling or tasting stuff. The stomach will try to vomit out any poisons or irritants, or try to get rid of them via a diarrhea. The stomach has strong digestive acids to kill germs. Finally, only basic molecules of sugars, amino acids, vitamins and minerals can get into the bloodstream from the small intestine. We believe that in giving a vaccination, you are bypassing all these defence mechanisms and getting harmful organisms directly into the bloodstream.
The tender, not yet fully mature immune system of the baby, is thus given a rude shock with all these poisons entering the body. It can usually cope – the with the resultant fever etc but some times there are very serious adverse effects that no-one can guarantee will not happen. We did not want to take a chance. Basically we believe that health is created by healthy living. Health cannot be created by injecting filth into the human body – and that’s what precisely the origins of vaccines are. Most of them are viruses and germs taken from pus, sores, wounds of animals etc… and then cultured in a petri-dish so that you no longer know their origins. We believe that the immune system of everyone rises to the occasion when required, and there is no need to give it “practice” by vaccination. To give you a ludicrous example, the first time you cut yourself, or break a bone, the body knows how to heal it. There is no need to cut yourself lightly or break bones (small bones, or small fractures), just so the body knows how to handle the situation when there is a real fracture or a major wound. For more information on vaccination, based on which we took our decision not to vaccinate Krish, visit our web site http://chrysalisyog.homestead.com/vaccine.html. So far Krish is doing fine, does not seem any the worse for missing his shots. If anything, it saved him the pain, nuisance, crankiness, fever, and bother and saved us a whole lot of bother too.
Mosquitos and Krish
A week ago, we went to Talegaon to Rita’s parents house and spent the night there. The next day when we woke up, all of us – including Krish, had been bitten all over by mosquitoes. Poor Krish, he had at least 10 bites on his face and head and an equal number on his each of his hands. Surprisingly he did not complain or cry about it much. I was a bit scared of malaria- but now a week has passed and he is still well. My mother said, how much can you protect him and for how long? A very valid question – so better let him get used to the world outside. Of course we will take precautions and not take un-necessary risks, but no need to be over-protective. For example, we don’t take any special precautions to keep the room ultra-quiet when Krish is sleeping. Anyway we live in a very noisy traffic area – but Krish sleeps through everything – like a baby! Oh, I forgot, he is a baby!
We have seen little babies swaddled up in layers of cloth, not able to move a muscle. We took a conscious decision to keep Krish’s limbs free and he was very happy, kicking about from day one. In fact, we put him on his stomach on the second day, and if we gave support behind his heels, he was able to push off and crawl a few feet! We have a video of this as well. People say that babies are used to being in the womb in a very constricted space, so tieing them up like this is comforting to them since they remember the womb. I think that a baby would be glad to get out of the confines of the womb and not want to be reminded of his confinement. He loves his freedom- and will kick off any covers we try to put on him. The only thing is we have to watch him carefully. He was born on Feb 23, when Bombay’s mild winter was just ending. So it was a bit cold for about a week or ten days. During this time, at times when Krish was left open, he would begin to shiver and his mouth seemed to chatter. AT this time, we lightly wrapped him in a soft cloth and he was fine. By the time, he was 15-20 days old, the weather became warmer and he did not have any problems.
Oil, massage and bathing
Most traditional Indian families, give the baby an oil massage and then a hot water bath. They usually cry through the process. I felt that any oil would block the pores on Krish’s skin, and when it was washed off with hot water and soap, the body’s natural oils would get washed out along with the massage oil. So better avoid both the oil and the massage. Also we did not use hot water for the bath, rather we used lukewarm water only. And we put it into a tub for use. Before putting Krish into the bath, we tell him, Krish, we are going to give you a bath, and now we are putting you in the water. He sure seems to understand, because he has not even cried once before, during or after his bath for four months. Only one day, the water was SLIGHTLY warmer than he was used to, and as I lowered him into the water, his expression changed to one of surprise, discomfort…I immediately pulled him out and added some more cold water!
Baby on the stomach
We started putting Krish on the floor (on a soft mattress) on his stomach from day two. He gets a lot of exercise that way, and he was able to hold his head up unsupported on his own very soon. He was able to turn around from his stomach to his back as well in the second month or so. So we keep him partly on his back and partly on his stomach so he gets used to all positions.
We did not use a cradle to rock Krish to sleep, because we felt that extensive rocking would be as uncomfortable to Krish as it would be to us. So he goes to sleep on the bed without too much bother to us – usually he falls asleep after the feed and we just put him down. Saves us a lot of bother
For four months now, Krish has been exclusively on breast milk. Nothing else has been given to him, not even water. Only once, I gave him a drop of watermelon juice. And another time, a drop of coconut water. And because the alphonso mango season was getting over, and he would miss it, I gave him a tiny tiny piece of mango once. On all three occasions he was smacking his lips for quite a while after he enjoyed these treats. We plan to keep him on exclusively breast milk for another two months, and then gradually introduce fruits, fruit juices, and vegetable juices. We plan to keep him 100% raw for at least a year… lets see how it goes.. People are telling us that Krish is too thin etc, but we feel overweight babies have a weight problem from the beginning itself. He is healthy, alert and active and we are happy with that.
When we asked Dr. Sidhwa what we should feed Krish, he said “Don’t worry about Krish’ Just take care of Rita. Make sure she gets a good diet, and she will have enough breast milk with all the nutrients Krish needs and he will know how to get it and how much to get, we can leave all that to him.
Right from the second month, I have been taking Krish to the terrace for a sunbath. I take him around 8 am, and put him nude on his back in the sun for 5 minutes, and then on his stomach for 5 minutes. If the sun hurts his eyes, (he squints and looks away), I shield his eyes and he is comfortable. It is windy on the terrace, he gets an airbath as well.
Response to crying.
The moment we notice that Krish is crying, we go to him and see what’s up. Usually he is uncomfortable because he has wet himself, or is hungry, or sleepy, or something else is bothering him. Sometimes when the place is crowded with people or feels stuffy (I can feel it myself), Krish is uncomfortable. So most of the time we can figure out what is wrong (at times by trial and error) and we can calm him down. On a few occasions we could not figure it out and he cries for 10 minutes or so but he eventually calms down. We discovered a position on the Internet, where he is held in our arms, horizontally across our body, face down, with his legs draped around our forearm. This works like magic and calms him down immediately!
Some people have told us that we should let him cry, so that he does not get spoilt and expect to be picked up each time he cries. I don’t think that’s a good idea. In our experience, Krish does not cry for no reason. There’s something he needs and he his bringing it to our attention. When we take care of it, he quietens down. I think ignoring his cries- the only way he can get our attention quickly – will send quite the wrong signals.
We have been lucky with Krish. Even in the first month, he used to get up only twice or thrice in the night for a feed, and then promptly go back to sleep. In the second month, it settled down to usually twice a night, and then in the third and fourth month, once or twice. Nowadays he sleeps for five to six hours at a stretch in the night. He rarely makes a fuss at night- in fact I sleep all through it. Rita wakes up when he does – and does not put the light on or anything. There is a small night lamp on – she feeds him, changes him if needed and then they both go back to sleep. A few times he has remained awake at night for a couple of hours, but in general we have not had sleepless nights as other some other parents have told us horror stories of being kept awake by a crying baby all night, not knowing how to calm him down.
Outdoors – Prams etc
We have been taking Krish outdoors to gardens and parks since he was one month old. We don’t swaddle him and keep him open with just a diaper and t-shirt, and we carry him all the time. Babies need body contact and freedom to move and prams etc are restrictive and keep him away from us, so we don’t plan to buy one. Rita and I will get some exercise too, as Krish puts on weight!
Talking to Krish and listening to him
The most important thing, I feel, is that we all keep talking to Krish. We keep telling him what is going on, where we are going, what we are doing etc. He seems to understand and enjoy it. For example, when we had a three hour car ride to Talegaon, we told him about it and asked him to relax for three hours. And he was absolutely peaceful throughout the ride! Not one cry! I imagine it will be very difficult to manage for three hours in a car with a crying cranky baby, but Krish has not given us any trouble.
I feel that by telling Krish what we are doing, we are respecting him and not taking him for granted. We feel he understands everything, only he cannot communicate to us, in our language. He communicates all right, in his way. We have to take the trouble to learn his language, until he learns ours. For example, just before he is picked up, his expression changes, as he knows he is going to be picked up. If we pick him up hastily or quickly, the expression on his face changes to a bit of fear, concern and discomfort. So I have learned to pick him up gently and slowly, so that he remains comfortable.
For the last month or so, Krish is beginning to articulate as well. He makes all kinds of noises. God knows what he is trying to tell us! We just listen and guess! And its good fun! Now he has started focusing on people and besides Rita, he recognizes me, my mother and brother and usually greets us with a smile! We have also started out showing him flash cards (words and dots) and picture cards, as I learnt at Philadelphia. He looks at them with rapt interest. We are not very regular about this, we have to fix this…