Babies have dignity too; Magical Child Matures, a book review

Babies should have the right to human dignity too. The recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to legalize gay marriage was based on a human right to dignity. The decision has brought up the question of whether polyamory, marriage between more than two people, should be the next human rights question to discuss. [2] Before broaching that topic I would suggest that the infant’s and birth mother’s right to a good delivery and breast feeding experience need to be clarified legally. The legalization of same sex marriage may lead to an increase in the number of infants born to surrogate mothers or other contracted parenting arrangements which may not allow for a normal amount of time for breast feeding. Ideally an infant would nurse for at least 3 to 9 months and in nature primate species tend to nurse their infants for two to three years. Research into artificial womb incubators also exists which might greatly impact the infant’s right to a dignified (ie close to natural) prenatal and birth experience.

I found the book Magical Child (1977) by Joseph Chilton Pearce to be very helpful during my first pregnancy. It is the precursor to the book Magical Child Matures, (E. P. Dutton, Inc., 1985, New York), which I had mentioned in a previous post and again in my last post where I mentioned that it is now selling used for one penny. I posed the question of whether it is worth a penny and answered that, yes, to me it is worth it specifically because of the third chapter which is titled “Bonding and Attachment.”

The author has written twelve books in all and has focused on child development and the importance of the child-parent bond and breast feeding relationship and also on topics of spirituality and the heart-mind connection or  the “compassionate mind.” [1]

In the third chapter of the book Magical Child Matures labor is described from the infant’s perspective. The stress of delivery causes an increase in an infant’s stress chemicals and establishing a breast feeding relationship as soon as possible after delivery helps bring the levels back down to normal levels.

The chapter titled Bonding and Attachment (1985, page 24-40) first describes an ideal delivery experience for the infant and then describes how disturbing delivery could be in an over-crowded and rushed hospital in the 1970s. The baby and mothers from the over-crowded setting are described as black people receiving care at an inner-city hospital and my impression is that he included the information because he’s not racist, because he felt that #Blacklivesmatter and that all mothers and infants deserve a low stress delivery with a positive bonding experience. Bringing up traumatic history reminds us to investigate routine practices and evaluate them for fairness, effectiveness, and safety risks. He includes in the chapter that the old practice of holding a baby upside down and smacking it on the bottom to stimulate their first breath may also have caused some infants to have internal bleeding in the upper spinal column and die prematurely from silent crib death (found in 80% of autopsies of infants who had died of silent crib death in one study) (Magical Child Matures1985, page 35).

He also described a practice that may have been commonly used to save time after delivery in some busy hospitals. The medical professional would just yank the laboring mother’s placenta out by the umbilical cord instead of allowing her body to progress through the final stage of labor at her own pace.

Never discussing uncomfortable history may be more comfortable for us but it doesn’t promote learning from our mistakes or lead to our making changes in routine practices. Holding a baby upside down and smacking it always seemed like a horrible practice to me so finding information that suggests it might indeed have caused traumatic injury was disturbing and revealing. We do many things each day because that is just the way things have always been done but if we never stop to evaluate procedures for their effectiveness or safety then we may be causing harm on a routine basis without realizing it.

Having a baby, for me, was painful and amazing and euphoric and joyful and beautiful, and kind of sweaty and gross, and just as wonderful as the author describes for the well bonded, good delivery experience.

So is the book Magical Child Matures worth a penny (plus shipping and handling)? Yes I think so. The author discusses development of consciousness during the different stages of the lifespan along with his interpretation of how thinking might occur in a triune brain but that speculative discussion of consciousness could be skimmed and the reader may find the developmental information helpful on its own. The author also describes some personal experiences with psychic phenomenon and meditative practices. So that might be a reason for some potential readers to avoid the book or it might be a reason to seek out the book because they are topics that are infrequently discussed.

I’m expecting my first grandchild this month so I made a copy of the chapter on bonding and attachment for the expectant parents just in case they also would find it helpful. However the discussion of bonding and attachment may also be helpful for any age person to read because early childhood experiences might impact our behavior throughout life – a well bonded infant may grow up to be a more trusting adult while a stressed out infant may have more delayed development during early infancy and grow up to be more focused on collecting things and being dominating within relationships rather than being trusting.

The newborn’s first lesson in life is trust. The fetus had warmth and a constant swishing heartbeat and soothing amniotic fluid and suddenly they are forced out into a cold bright noisy world. Newborns certainly don’t deserve to be held upside down and smacked as their first experience in life whatever their skin color may be. And mothers deserve time to labor at their own pace, rather than have the process rushed for the convenience of the medical professional. Hormonal changes occur for the infant and mother during different phases of labor and delivery, rushing the process may interfere with the infant’s health and development and with the development of the mother’s mammary glands and ability to make an adequate supply of breast milk.

Growing a baby isn’t rocket science – it’s much more complicated than that – but worth it. Thanks for sharing your experience in Magical Child Matures, Joseph Chilton Pearce.

/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a lactation educator and Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

 

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