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‘The Cries of a Baby’

Over the years working as a midwife, I’ve often witnessed how we react to the cries of a baby. As a health care profession birthing a baby, we love the sounds of a cry of a baby soon as it emerges from its mother. Rarely do we come across a baby who is just in repose or chilled out moment and I have from time to time, and it is so beautiful to see and feel. 


This one time I was part of this woman’s birth; I pondered on the scenario. The woman had been affected by a fall from a horse, so she had a degree of disability. She had a partner and I observed how he interacted with their newly born son. The baby was quiet and was happy to lay there and just be in the human world no doubt he will be that type throughout his growing years. He didn’t flinch when he received his injections, he gave me this look to say, yes, I know this is essential, so, so be it. He was beautiful to be around.


Is there a possibility that this baby was to support the parents? Could that be a possibility?


I may have digressed, but it is essential. I find that parents become so anxious when their babies cry, sometimes too often they want their babies to sleep 8 hours or more, that is not the norm for a newborn baby. Let’s put this into perspective, shall we?


I am 5 ft something in height, not interested in the weight. So, my internal organs, in particularly my digestive system is accordingly to my structure - correct? So along comes a newborn it is approximately 50cm long. So, what do you think its digestive system is going to be like size wise? Correct accordingly to its body size. So do you expect a newborn compared to an adult digestive organs are going be the same - NO! So why expect a baby to sleep 8 hours or so without wanting to feed frequently?


It is normal for a baby to have a smaller stomach, smaller colon so it will need feeding frequently. It is that simple. Expect your baby to feed at least 2-3 hourly and in that it takes small amounts of milk. Some mothers have been known to express 0.5mls of breast milk and that could be enough, till the next 2-3 hours or so. However, what I write does not mean it is for gospel either, in other words what you read is not exact for every woman and baby, it is that simple. It’s the equivalent to you reading Dr Google, it can be over whelming to read whilst I like to give you a general idea and then it is tailored for you and your baby. It is that simple.


So, when a baby cries, you tune into his/her tone of their crying, what is your baby asking for? It can be anything from the simplicity to what we require to keep our bodies going, such as, we feed it, we give it a drink, we clothe it, we keep it warm, we keep it cool, we poo/pee so we clean ourselves afterwards, we feel emotional about something, so we get/receive support, we sense something isn’t right so we become either frightened or imposed upon and we cry, and add other things to this if you like. so, what is the difference for a baby? What is the difference as we mature.


So as a family, we need to learn that a newborn has a language and it’s in the cries, nothing harder than that. It is for you to tune into this baby and figure out what this baby is asking for. Far as I’m concerned the basics of caring for a baby is the physical component of maintaining its needs. Food, fluids, sleep, elimination, warmth, nurturing. There is an element I have observed that we don’t seem to focus upon or even pay much attention to and that is the world of invisibility. What do you mean by invisibility? You ask me. Let me explain something that a client once shared with me, and it is very valid, and I’ve known about with the years I’ve worked as a midwife and visited families in their home. I called her a client as I used to counsel her.


This client mentioned that everything was fine with her and her few months old daughter. A friend asked to visit and when she arrived, she observed how her daughter started to become agitated with her friend’s presence, in that her daughter had started to grizzle for no apparent reason, everything had been met for her daughter’s needs. What was so beautiful was that this client observed the change in her daughter’s behaviour, she was tuned into her change in behaviour. She also noted that her friend was ‘off’ meaning not in a great place and as she put it, her energy wasn’t great. The client mentioned that she declined her friend’s offering to hold or pick the baby up. I asked the client what made her make that decision. She mentioned that somehow, she had sensed that her friend wasn’t in a great place, and she didn’t want her daughter being handled with that energy as her daughter was already disturbed by her visit. The client denied her friend to touch her daughter, it was that simple, there were no ifs or buts about this situation, decision was made, full stop. She was not perturbed if her friend was offended by her decision. She was going to stay with that decision, and she was honest towards this friend. But what was more striking was that she herself was not offended by her relationship with her friend in other words, she wasn’t going to break up with her because of this one incident/issue or visit. Don’t you just love that? This incident/issue did not affect them, because aside from this, they were great friends.


Now this is what I’m making reference to, listening to the world of invisibility. This is what occurs when a baby senses that something isn’t right, and they become agitated. Remembering that he/she communicates by being agitated whilst we are then busy thinking that they are hungry or wanting something when they are communicating that this isn’t always the case even if they are displaying signs of hunger-ness. This is something for all of us to ponder over and put some thought into this sharing from a very astute mother.


So, apart from this, what this blog is about is to tune into your baby’s cry. Every cry has a tone, can you tell what it is?


Do you know when I worked as a midwife, back in the UK and whilst on night shifts, we used to bring the babies into the nursery so that their mothers could sleep. Of course, things have changed since and we encourage rooming in, so a mother and baby can bond, throughout their day or night. Even though I was not their biological mother (can you imagine being a mother of 20 odd babies in one hit 😳😅), I could tell by each babies cry what was needed for that baby and I was just being their surrogate mother for the 11 hour shift. So, if that is possible for a midwife/woman, then what is possible for you woman/mother?


Don’t waste your time thinking that a baby’s cries disturb you, it’s disturbing them and instead of being in the situation of this is too hard, focus and attend to the baby’s needs in that given moment and watch how things change. Can it be as simple as that? - YES!

1 Comment

Christine O'Brien
Christine O'Brien
Jun 05

Shushila I wish I had this advice when I was a new mum, tuning in to the babies cry instead of just focusing on getting the baby to stop crying because it is reflecting I am not a good mother. Looking forward to being a grandmother one day so I get another opportunity to observe and tune in to the baby, such a beautiful connection to make with any baby. Thank you.

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