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Romans 12:2

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Hilary's Desk

Sucking eggs - Mother's touch banishes pain

Hilary Butler - Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Herald today has an article about how a mother’s love can show ways to banish pain. Yet again, scientists have “discovered” what those “sucking eggs” have known for a very long time… that certain types of touching alleviates pain. Yet, how many parents have been told in the past, to stop stroking their babies in neonatal units, because it “stimulates” the babies and causes them to waste energy? (Yes, I was told that). Now, we are told, as if we are totally stupid and didn't know it before, that stroking reduces pain and discomfort.  We are also told that this knowledge could lead to new treatments from chronic itching to depression.

It’s that simple? Do they imagine that people with chronic itching and depression never get stroked?

Ah, I hear you say… well that’s sort of good news. They are finally catching up to the rest of the world.

There is only one problem I foresee. Perhaps a “mother’s touch” won’t be good enough. Maybe you will have to take your child, or yourself to someone scientifically trained to know the right places, and the right pressure. This expertise will naturally come at a price, because we mere hoi polloi are too stupid to work it out for ourselves. This new treatment, might require a new class of highly trained “experts” whose multi-yeared courses of anatomy, physiology, muscle groupings, skin associated neuro receptors give them the “right” to practice… and so it goes on, and on and on.

These sort of “sucking eggs” studies are a double edged sword. On the one hand, they prove ancient wisdom over and over again, ad nausuem. And wastes a heap on money which could be better spent on other things, if the medical profession has the brains to recognize common sense, and empirical understanding when it sees it. On the other, it seems that they also take the blindingly obvious out of the field of commonsense, and transfer it to the “expert” enclave. After all, there isn’t any point in expensive research if it doesn’t produce a life long source of mortgage repayments for someone!

Here’s a wonderful quote;

”…now we are beginning to understand that without a sense of pleasure, or reward, behaviours that we take for granted, like the caress between lovers and the nurturing of babies, we would also not survive”. Doctors have already realized that premature babies do better when cuddled straight after birth”.

That last sentence is very interesting, because their “realization” of that fact hasn’t come without a struggle on the part of parents to have recognized the fact that touch is important.

It is a source of discontent to informed parents, that “kangaroo care” (where a premature baby spends most of the time against the skin of the mother’s chest in a type of pouch) is usually reserved for countries which can’t afford, or don’t have the technology for incubators etc which mimic required “conditions” for babies.

Twenty seven years ago, when our first son was born, humane access to babies in neonatal units was a major battle, hard fought, and rarely won. And when you did win, like I did, your file was labeled with such words as “Mother a trouble maker, and refuses to do as she is told.” There was a huge demarcation line right there, because winning the right to care for your baby the right way, neither won friends nor influenced people. In 1981, it guaranteed you to be a “marked” parent, and every day, the impact of that reverberated until you left.

I don’t know if 1981 hospital policy applies today, when it comes to Neonatal units. But I do know that similar treatment is meted out to parents today who chose not to vaccinate. Anything that is not “policy” is considered child abuse, no matter the era. Each age, has it’s echos of the middle ages, or flat earth society. The tragedy is that the majority who assign labels on people who think differently, can’t see that the very fact that they have come up with this “new finding” today, reinterates the obvious fact that they still don’t know everything.  In the future they may look back and blush at the way they treat non-vaccinating parents today.

Perhaps we should find a "label" for this.  Would "Semmelweis Syndrome" do?

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