Mama mammals of the world, unite!

21 October 2009 at 7:11 pm Leave a comment

I can’t be the only mama who gets all misty-eyed at the sight of other mammal mamas giving birth, cuddling their babies, co-sleeping, or breastfeeding–right? Well, whether I’m alone in this new obsession of mine or not, I had two great animal-mama experiences this summer that I’m just getting a chance to look back on now.

First was the sight of a mama and baby gorilla in the National Zoo in Washington, DC, in July. The gorilla enclosure was jammed with kids, daycamps, and families, all trying to catch a glimpse of the baby, but at first no one saw her. The mama gorilla was on a hammock, sort of above most people’s view, and eventually she climbed off the hammock, walked around the area, and sat down in the back under a tree near the silverback. That was when people started to realize that the baby gorilla was on the mother–clinging to her chest the whole time, from when she was napping in the hammock to when she was walking around. Sitting near the silverback, the mother calmly started nursing, and the crowd went wild–seriously, cries of “Ooh, she’s feeding it! Ooh, how cute!” erupted from kids and adults alike. The gorilla seemed to tolerate all this attention, and then walked back to her hammock, climbed up into it, and disappeared from sight again–all with her baby on her chest. I was holding my baby on my chest in a mei tai, talking to him the whole time, and I seriously felt just like that mama gorilla–except people don’t normally exclaim happily when I start nursing in public (ah, the irony). Oh, and my boy didn’t nurse in the gorilla enclosure in happy nurse-in sympathy, but only because he had just nursed on the floor of the panda enclosure and was pretty content to watch the animals now.

My second great experience was at the Miracle of Birth center at the Minnesota State Fair in August. Wow, this place was packed, again with kids and teens and families, all going nuts over the farm animals who had either just given birth or were literally in the process of doing so. There was a calf who was born just an hour before we arrived, and a bunch of piglets born the day before, and there were all these pregnant sheep and goats wandering around just like warm, beautiful pregnant women. Again I was holding my baby in a mei tai (I think he was on my back here) and talking to him about all the mamas and babies. A few hours later, sitting outside on a lawn relaxing with our friends and cousins who we’d come to the Fair with, I heard two cousins say they had just gone back into the Miracle of Birth barn because they’d missed it before. 

“How was it?” someone asked.

“It was good–we saw a cow deliver her placenta,” one of my cousins said nonchalantly.

“A COW PLACENTA?” I sat up and screamed. “NO WAY!” Yes, I got laughed at by my friends, but I spent the rest of the afternoon lamenting that I hadn’t gone back into the barn and caught that moment. 

Anyway, here are just a couple animal-related links for your pleasure–a brief post on a babywearing blog with another link to an article about animals “wearing” their babies, and a BoingBoing post from a couple weeks ago with a video of an amazing elephant birth. 

So come on, ‘fess up–have your birth experiences made you more in touch with the animal kingdom?


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Michael Odent and men at births What I wish I’d known back then about breastfeeding

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