Who is better nursing mother; mother or mother-in-law?

Nursing Mother

Some years ago, a lady we know got pregnant with her first child. However, the baby’s arrival, which should bring joy to the young couple and the two families, turned out to be one of the worst moments the couple would ever experience. The two mothers struggled over who bathe the child and such other things.

The whole matter degenerated to an extent that they did not only quarrel but they also almost fought physically. They had totally different mothering styles. And these were two powerful mothers whose opinions no one challenged in their homes.

The young couple did not know what to do. They were not wise enough to know what to do. They were not strong enough to know what to do. It was, therefore, a big relief and joy to them, when both mothers eventually left for their homes after about three months.

I love my mother very much, but when we had our first child thirty-something years ago, I made her not to come immediately to see her first grandchild. She rejoiced in her home. It was about six weeks later, during the baby’s dedication that she came on a Friday, took part in the dedication service on Sunday and travelled back home about two days later. It was my wife’s mother that nursed Carol, my wife and the baby and in fact, all our four biological children.

I can remember my mother-in-law cooking delicious fresh fish pepper soup and different types of delicacies for Carol to eat and regain her vitality after the labour associated with childbirth. Carol refused to eat those expensive delicacies. Instead, she told her mother to prepare for her pap and dodo (fried plantain). Her mother told her that a woman who had just been delivered of a baby should eat better food. But Carol insisted.

With looks of amazement on her face, her mother went and prepared for her pap and dodo. She finished the food. Boy, trust me, I ate the fresh fish pepper soup and the other delicacies.

The question now is: do you think that it would have been easy for Carol to tell my mother to prepare pap and dodo for her after she had laboured to prepare the other delicious dishes? It would not have been easy at all. Carol could easily tell her mother not to massage a newborn baby, but it would not have been easy for her to tell my mother not to do so. Who then nurses the mother and child under the extended family system practised in Africa and other parts of the world?

I seriously recommend that the person the nursing mother is most familiar with should do so. In most instances, it’s likely to be her mother, as it was in Carol’s case. In very few instances, it may be her husband’s mother. This is very rare. In some other instances, it could be a relative, an experienced friend or a friendly church member. When Boaz married Ruth and she gave birth to Obed, the father of Jesse, who was the father of David, Ruth 4:16 says “And Naomi took the child and laid it in her bosom and became nurse unto it.” Ruth’s mother-in-law by name Naomi (who was now like her real mother) nursed Ruth and her child because she was the person she was most familiar with. It was not Boaz’s mother or auntie that did it.

I pray that we all have the wisdom and courage to handle simple, but potentially complicated matters of who should nurse mother and child immediately after childbirth. Love you.

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