i recently finished the vital touch by sharon heller, ph.d. wow, it's amazing. i think we all intuitively know how important touch is in our lives. however, we don't live in a touch driven society. i wonder how many of us think to our cultural patterns in the united states and consider the rise of behavioural disorders, consumerism and disease with the link to lack of touch. sharon heller touches on these topics, while focusing on the experience of american babies, and why they rank the least held on earth.
this book is now in the top ten of my most recommended books for parents to be and parents who are smack dab in the midst of action. my favorite point that heller touches on is how touch actually creates brighter and more balanced babies, leading to emotionally balanced people. as sharon heller notes, when we carry our infants they experience our body warmth, frequent position changes, deep pressure, rocking, bouncing, and other forms of movement. they are often kissed, stroked, patted, nuzzled.
unfortunately, our consumer culture has convinced us that a container culture is the norm. so normal, that if you count families out and about on a weekend, it's rare to find babies in the arms of parents. most are in strollers or carriages. while being wheeled to and fro, the baby has limited vision and awareness, and is far from the warmth and safety of the parent's body. she is vulnerable to the loud sounds in the world around her, without the protection of a parent.
hugging a baby close and having her hang on your hip is proven to stimulate her development. neurons in the brain fire off with the movement. in various indigenous cultures, babies who are held throughout infancy often skip the crawling phase and go straight into walking, after a few stumbles or so. it's important to bring awareness to what we consider the "norm" and reflect on the pros and cons.
heller's work also stimulated some other thoughts. we simply don't offer enough support as a culture to the postpartum mom enough in this society. so often, the mother is left on her own. our nuclear families are spread like smooth peanut butter across the states, and often the mother's and father's families live miles away. in turn, this affects the entire bonding process for the mother and the baby. taking a shower or having a few minutes each day becomes a rare treat when a new mother is left at home alone with a newborn. many cultures take care of a new mother for up to 6 weeks after birth, so that all she may do is breastfeed and bond with her little one.
mother and baby need to bond, so that she may learn the signs of her baby's communication. often a newborn will cry just because they cannot yet control their muscles and being held or swaddled helps bring comfort. only a mother that is nurtured and supported can truly give full attention to her newborn's development.
we are raising the next generation of consciousness on this planet. the moment from our conception, to growth in the womb, our birth and the early weeks of infancy all assist in molding our personalities as adults. for parents who are interested in becoming fully aware of how they may positively affect their baby's development, i highly recommend the vital touch. this book will open doorways into your mind, your emotions, and most significantly into your body. may we all become more comfortable, open and aware of what it truly means to be in body.