ASK MARWA: How do I stop myself from beating my newborn?

Date posted: March 14, 2012




Published in Identity Magazine – March 2012

Dear Marwa

I gave birth to twins; a boy and a girl. They are now two months old. My question is: how do I stop myself from beating the girl?


I received this email a few years back and I was horrified! What kind of mother would beat up her newborn like that! I replied to that woman telling her that she should be thankful and that she did not deserve to be a mother in the first place! I also told her that her attitude towards her baby girl was a clear sign of gender discrimination between her children – she obviously favored her son. I wish I could find that woman and apologize for being so judgmental.

I read a lot about post partum depression but nothing compares to actually going through it! That woman who sent me that ugly email was suffering post partum depression. I am positive that to everyone around her she seemed normal and fully functional – well this is the trick! Post partum depression creeps on you! To an outsider, you are a woman who successfully gave birth to healthy twins! No one sees inside that woman … was her birth experience traumatic? Were here beliefs shaken? Is she having esteem issues or body image issues? Does she feel violated? Does she feel let down?

Then after the birth itself; is that woman getting enough sleep and rest? Did she get the proper opportunity to bond with the babies? Is there a husband adding more weight on her shoulders? Are there other children who are competing over her attention? Is she overwhelmed with housekeeping issues and chores or is someone helping her? Is she worried her husband might have an affair? Is she worried about him being repelled by her stretch marks, extra fat, leaking breasts, sagging belly, etc?

There is also the aspect of baby temperament; not all babies are alike! Some babies are mellow and content with minimum attention while others are high need. High need babies cry, fuss, and scream until their demands are met. They know they deserve to be loved and cuddled and they will not settle for less than the attention they deserve. Maybe her daughter is high need! Maybe it's the girl who cries all night, poops when she had just changed her, latches on improperly giving her sore nipples, or demands that she be carried around all the time!

My advice to that woman is to let everyone around her know that she is not feeling well, that she needs assistance with her other kids, cooking, cleaning, and laundry, that she is not getting enough sleep or nourishment, and that she needs help taking care of the babies. I would tell her to get as much sleep as possible – this is the only thing that would help her endure a non-stop crying baby. I would also tell her that it's a phase that that it will pass. I would tell her husband to reassure her that she is beautiful and that she is the lovely mother of his babies. I would also advise him to not burden her with sex or attention to his needs. His babies are consuming her and she needs his support and love.

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