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A lesson from the Cave Mothers

When I first had Maya, I thought constantly about what early human mothers did to raise their children. I think experiencing birth (however your birth story turns out) and then raising your young nursling is the most instinctual, primal experience we still have as humans. In a world that relies so heavily on industrialization and technology, caring for a tiny human has transported me back about a million years to the very beginning of our existence. 

Early human mamas did not have sound machines, wipe warmers, mamaroo baby bouncers, or disposable diapers. And yet humanity exists today because they nursed on demand, coslept, and probably did babywearing constantly. While our modern-day innovations may have made motherhood easier and somewhat less messy, I wonder what other ramifications it has had.

There are so many fads that have come and gone or remain, catchphrases that influence our every decision as mothers. 

Breast is best
Fed is best
Back to sleep
Sleep training 
Attachment parenting

Baby-led weaning
The list goes on...

Honestly, it’s easy as a new mother to be overwhelmed with all the options. But I think this image sums it up best. “We would have not survived as a species if cave mothers had put their offspring in another part of the cave at night, or left them for long periods of time during the day.”

This resonates with me so deeply, a mama who hadn’t had a full night’s sleep in just about four years. 

Sleep trainers say we should not nurse our babies to sleep, or rock them into dreamland. Instead we should fight our instincts and lay them in bed sleepy, but not asleep. Unfortunately my babies have not fallen asleep on their own since those first blissful newborn months. Mateo went through the four-month-sleep-regression and never actually progressed to falling asleep himself again! And although that means more work for me, it also means more sleepy snuggles. And my response is, why should we not hold our babies until they fall asleep, when it feels so right and so good for them to drift off in our arms? They are only babies for such a short time of their existence. Soon, they’ll be begging for their own bed and their own space and their own privacy. I feel like I need to soak up all of these precious moments while I have the chance. 

This is why I babywear. This is why I nurse my babies to sleep. This is why they sleep in a crib next to my bed, or most often in my arms if they wake up in the middle of the night. 

All around the world mamas bedshare, baby wear, and extended breastfeed, it’s only here in the US that those things are socially unacceptable. 

So many mothers are forced to return to work after a mere two- or three-month maternity leave. I am so grateful that I've been able to spend this entire year with my little ones, watching Mateo and Maya grow and not having to return to work until we are all ready. 

I’d like to encourage all mamas to follow their instincts and always do what they feel is right in terms of raising their children because in this case, mama does know best. 


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