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Saturday, April 09, 2011

Length of Gestation

Today I found anthropologist, scientist, & humanist Ashley Montague's theory which makes a lot of sense to me.  He said that Humans have an 18 month gestational period-9 months inside and 9 months outside.  This theory fits in with what I've read on human infant development and research on things like skin to skin contact.  I don't think it should be used as yet another way for Moms to feel guilty (if you have to work or have outside commitments the baby won't be held as much by the Mother) I hate when people do that.  It's not productive and it keeps people from even trying to use the information.  I think we should take from this the idea that humans need to gradually adjust to life outside the womb-and this adjustment period is meant to include as much touching and holding by (primarily) Mom and hopefully the father and other family/friends as is possible.  This is normal, and ideal.

Excerpt from the article:
"Us human moms also don't have nearly as many natural instincts as other mammals -- we kiss our newborns which is similar in instinct to grooming, but much of the stimulation to the nerves that animal grooming provides is actually done with our labor process. So the skin-on-skin bonding time, and breastfeeding, and closeness between the human mommy and the newborn is our way of mimicking a lot of mammalian reactions.

We're hardwired to instantly want to comfort our babies and our breasts even tell us right away when a baby cries that WE need to go to them and feed them and comfort them. We're not designed to be separated from our babies, ladies! In fact, there are some cultures where babies are literally never allowed to touch the ground until they're 8 months old, which is around the time babies can crawl around independently, and also become aware that they are a unique entity and not an extension of you.
That time, 9 months old or so, is when Montagu says human babies are considered full-term by all physiological standards. By the end of the first year, the baby's brain has more than doubled in size and is approximately 60 percent of it's full adult size, and baby humans are finally about as capable as newborns of other species. About the only other animals that have such "premature" babies are kangaroos and other primates, who if you remember, carry their infants non-stop for long periods of time. Many monkeys continue to breastfeed, even without solids, into their second year, some into 4-5 years."

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