Family Magazine

Stay by My Side, Baby

By A Happy Mum @A_Happy_Mum
I've been wanting to write about this since Ariel was born. It's something that I feel rather strongly about after giving birth in both Sweden and Singapore.
Did you know? I've said it before when I wrote about expensive babies but I am saying it again.
There is no such thing as a nursery in the hospital back in Sweden.
When I tell people about it, especially those who are mothers themselves, the responses I get are usually along the lines of:
"What? Then how the mom gets to rest?"
"Who helps you to take care of the baby then?"
"Poor thing. Then you have to stick to your baby all day long."
"Wow, that must be so tiring."   
Stay by my side, baby
Indeed, it was pretty tiring. But you know what, I loved and cherished the whole experience so much that I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. Which is why I was extremely glad that we chose to spend a little more and stay in a single room when I delivered Ariel this time round. Initially, we chose it so that the hubby could stay over but on the day of delivery, we were informed that you could only have the baby room-in if you stayed in a single room. *phew* Yes, I wanted to have my baby beside me as much as possible.
Stay by my side, babyRooming-in essentially meant that the baby stayed with me most of the time, except when they took her for baths and check-ups. In fact, I requested to bathe her in my room but that was rejected. Why didn't I want my baby to be taken care of in the nursery? Why didn't I want to lie down and rest? Why did I insist that they return my baby as soon as possible every time they took her? Why didn't I like the idea of them pushing my baby to and fro, and mostly away from me?
WHY? I'll tell you why.
Let's compare the Sweden style and the usual Singapore style where the babies stay in the nursery.
Stay by my side, baby
Are you starting to see what I mean?
Back in Sweden, as first time parents, we were the ones who learnt to take care of our baby from the start. We learnt to change diapers, we learnt to bathe her, we learnt to burp her, we learnt to cater to her every need. Since the minute she was born, we never left her, ever.
Stay by my side, baby
Not having a nursery doesn't mean the nurses were not around to help. They were always there. What I liked was that they showed us how to do it but eventually asked us to do it ourselves. Yes, no spoon-feeding, you gotta attempt, learn from mistakes, try again and master everything by yourself. After all, you are the parent and this is your baby for life.
For instance, the hubby was the one who gave Angel her first bath and the nurse was only standing beside to give verbal instructions. On the second night, Angel got into a crying fit and we tried all sorts of solutions but failed, only to ask the nurse for help and she showed us how to burp her and get her poo out with the use of a thermometer.
Stay by my side, babyWe were there with Angel for every of her vaccinations and physical examinations. I was there to hold her hand, to give her strength, to assure her that she is safe. Whenever she cried, we were the ones right beside her who picked her up to soothe her and react to her needs. In comparison, if you were to leave your child in a nursery, many things are done behind closed doors, like you can't hear her cries, can't witness her many firsts and can't even be there when she needs you most.
I get it. The nurses are professional and they know how to take care of babies for sure. They can coax the babies to sleep, they can swaddle them in a flash, they can feed formula milk from bottles, they can burp babies well and they can change diapers within seconds.
I get it. Mums need to rest after giving birth for there is no doubt it was a painful ordeal. There was even a nurse who gave me 'kind' advice to give up on the rooming-in idea because 'I will be very tired' and 'I should sleep more'. Thanks but no thanks, I felt pretty ready to scale Mt Everest, I wanted to tell her.
I get it. It's definitely easier to just pass your baby to the experienced nurses and have some breathing space for at least the first couple of days, to be able to rest, eat, sleep and even watch TV in peace. 
BUT, where is the L-O-V-E?
No matter how professional they are, they are not the baby's mother. There will always be a lack of motherly touch and it is not something that can be replaced. They do it out of obligation, caring for hundreds of babies a week; we do it out of love, caring for one, or maybe two or three, babies for a lifetime. How can it ever be the same?
Unless you decide to pass your baby to the grandparents or confinement lady after you go home, something else which I am also against, you probably won't get to rest much, so why not get accustomed to the new life of a mum? It's a matter of perspective. Resting puts us in positive spirits. But is taking care of the baby a chore or a joy to you in the first place?
Stay by my side, baby
The first couple of days of your baby's life only happens once. Miss out on that and it never comes back.
The next day after I gave birth to Ariel in Thomson Medical Centre, I went for this breastfeeding/bathing workshop. Not that I thought I badly needed it, but it was good to just refresh my memory a little.
I can't tell you how many times I was appalled by some of things said by the other first-time parents.
There was a dad who enquired just before discharge "How do I burp the baby?"
There was another parent who said "I don't know how to change diapers.  
They never let me do it."
When asked why, their usual replies were "Because the nurses keep pushing the babies out."
Seriously, am you blaming the nurses for that or are you not taking enough initiative to keep your baby by your side?
There were many things that the speaker said which I wholeheartedly embraced and agreed. 

"We should learn from the Caucasian culture. They never ever leave their babies."
"If you want to learn to care for your baby, then why do you let the nurses take your baby away from you for such a long time?"
  "Don't be afraid to handle your baby on your own."
"The first days are important. It is when you learn about your baby and build up your confidence as a parent. You should know your baby best."
Sometimes, I can't help but think that Singaporeans are a little over pampered and thus take things for granted. Then when we are left to fend for our own, we become clueless, we get demoralized and we go into an unnecessary panic. That sense of confidence in upbringing a child, which I believe is vital to any parent, doesn't fall from the sky and it needs to earned. Well, I am just relieved that I have been a hands-on mom for both my girls. Feed, coax, bathe, soothe, clean, cuddle, hug, kiss. I did them from day one and I still do them every single day.
Before you get me wrong, I'm not totally against the idea of nursery. I do believe in cases of C-section, medical complications or in cases where the mom feels really weak to even stand up, it is probably a good idea to leave your baby in the nursery while you rest and regain your vigour. But other than that, I believe even more strongly that every mom is able to not only take care of herself but her newborn as well, as long as she believes that she can do it.
Also, I am not saying that everyone should burn their pockets to stay in single rooms for we all know how absurd the rates can be. Still, it is always possible to request for your baby to stay by your side for extended periods each time when the nurses bring him/her to you before they absolutely need to bring them away again. The only question is: Do you want your baby to stay by your side in the first place?
Stay by my side, baby
What do you believe in, as a parent?

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog