Posts Tagged ‘baby’
There have been innumerable studies over the past few years about women returning to work after having a baby.
Some focus on the guilt that many women with babies feel when they have to leave their precious bundle for the first time; others look at the support they receive in the workplace.
Then there are the surveys that examine the adequacy or otherwise of maternity/paternity leave; the issue of parental leave and parent-friendly hours when the babies start school.
So, how did it make you feel when you read that the headmistress of private school St Mary’s Calne School, Wiltshire, returned to her desk just SEVEN hours after she had given birth to her third child?
Dr Helen Wright tells The Daily Mail (February 7, 2010) that she believed she was setting a good example by taking her hours-old daughter Jessica to the office with her.
“Most mothers want their daughters to have the exhilarating excitement of a career they love and the joy of a family,” she tells the paper.
“I have that and I want to show the girls at St Mary’s that that is not an impossible dream.”
But what example has she actually shown the girls, by returning to work so soon?
I have to admit to reading the report with a heavy heart, especially when she makes the remark: “Why can’t there be a third way – taking your baby to work with you?”
Now, I appreciate Dr Wright is cosseted in the world of private education, but is she honestly advocating that we all turn up to work with our babies, nappy bags and a truckload of toys?
I wouldn’t even dare ask the CBI, the Federation of Small Businesses, Chambers of Commerce – or the HSE for that matter – for their opinion on this nugget of wishful thinking.
Women have a difficult enough time anyway when it comes to returning to work after a few months’ away from the office.
A survey by The National Childbirth Trust in November last year revealed that 39 per cent of those questioned admitted they found going back to work after having a baby “difficult” or “very difficult”; 31 per cent claimed their relationship with their manager had deteriorated once their pregnancy had become known.
There is a raft of legislation and policies that protect women back into the workplace, but many of the 1,500 mothers who were surveyed said they still did not receive the support they needed.
There is no easy solution to this: many women are happy to return to work full-time after having a child, while others may want to reduce their office hours or become a stay-at-home mother.
But Dr Wright has done nothing for women who are wracked with guilt over returning to work. We can’t all be super mums. Many of us are torn daily as we drop off our children at the schoolgate or nursery as we troop off to work, relying on others to pick them up at 3pm.
We might want our careers, but many of us (me included) have realised we cannot have it all. Something has to give for a while.
So, babies who face away from their parent/carer could find that their development is impeded.
Research published today by Dundee University, which worked with the National Literacy Trust (NLT) charity, found that babies who faced the person pushing them laughed more and were far likelier to chat and interact than those who faced the opposite direction.
According to Dr Suzanne Zeedyk, a researcher at the university, 2,722 parent-child pairs were observed in 54 areas across the UK, with a further 20 babies examined during a one-mile walk in Dundee.
She found that:
Ø Only one baby laughed while sitting in the “away facing” pram, while half of the babies laughed when facing the carer.
Ø The children’s average heart rate fell slightly when they were facing the carers and were twice as likely to fall asleep.
Ø Parents who faced their infants while walking them in a pram were more than twice as likely to talk to their child/
Ø But only 22 per cent of adults who were observed for the study were seen chatting to the babies.
Dr Zeedyk said that the babies who faced away from the carer were more likely to feel stressed and “emotionally impoverished”.
“If babies are spending significant amounts of time in a baby buggy that undermines their ability to communicate easily with their parent, at an age when the brain is developing more than it will ever again in life, then this has to impact negatively on their development,” she told the BBC.
“Our experimental study showed that, simply by turning the buggy around, parents’ rate of talking to their baby doubled.
“Our data suggests that for many babies today, life in a buggy is emotionally impoverished and possibly stressful. Stressed babies grow into anxious adults.”
The surprising thing about this study us that anyone should be surprised.
Surely it stands to reason that if your child is looking away from the main carer (who can also looked detached from the whole parenting situation or who are too busy on their mobile phones) then there will be no interaction.
Buggies are low down and children aren’t able to see what’s going on properly anyway. It must be incredibly daunting for them to see a sea of legs, bags and occasional cigarette flying around the place.
Whether the statistics are meaningful or not, it might serve as a notice to parents of infants when they choose their prams and buggies.
Do you want to look at your child? Talk about your surroundings when you are out and about? Just babble inanely together? Even if they are only a day or two old, you can still – and must – chat to your child. Which mother-to-be didn’t talk to their bump? Why should it stop when the child is born? Your voice is comforting. It makes the baby feel safe.
You cannot talk properly when you are a few feet higher and behind them, just pushing them around. (Anyway, it hurts your back to keep bending down to chat.)
Communication is vital. Enjoy long walks, facing each other, and enjoy chatting to your baby. Heck, they soon grow up and the time with them as babies is incredibly precious!