Skin hunger was first used to describe the response of newborn monkeys taken from their biological mothers and given to surrogates made of wire and soft terry cloth. They didn’t fair very well. It was then applied to infants in hospitals and orphanages in war ravaged countries, and later to preemies confined to incubators in our modern hospitals for extended periods of time. The results in all three of these scenarios was a diagnosis of ‘failure to thrive.’ These are examples what happens when skin hunger is NOT fed.
A strong skin hunger however is Nature’s way of equipping babies and mothers with the instinct to attach. Skin hunger triggers the maternal desire to hold, feed and nurture, and the baby’s desire to root, suckle, and explore. When properly fed, the result is the enhance physical and psychological health of both mother and baby, and a strong mother-child bond.
Just up the coast from me is Muir Woods. Scientists have discovered that in these ancient forests there is a Mother Tree that is larger and older than all the other trees in the forest. Her roots are literally connected with all the other trees in the forest through a huge underground network of mushrooms that are thousands of years old. The Mother Tree loving regulates the health of the forest by allocating nutrients in the soil to keep the forest thriving.
We humans have survived for thousands of years too, relying on the roots of Maternal Love in much the same way that the forests rely on the Mother Tree. Unfortunately, during the 20th century, both forests and motherhood succumb to the will of the prevailing culture that couldn’t understand what they couldn’t see. Today, however, we are at a turning point. The new sciences of the 21st century sciences are revealing to us the mystery of the cosmos, of our bodies and of our minds, and are helping us correct our past mistakes and giving us the opportunity to create new-old ways of caring for our planet and for ourselves.
At Nesting Days we focus a great deal on the biological mother, but having baby skin-to-skin makes bonding for Dads easier too, and helps to build the parental bond for adoptive parents as well. Inside the newborn carrier, the baby becomes familiar with voices, scents and motions, and learns to trust the world around him or her and is able to enjoy a multitude of biological and emotional benefits.
This is an invitation to put your roots down in the Nesting Days forest and be a collective voice for ending world skin hunger. In the Nesting Days forest there is no such thing as ‘failure to thrive.’
As we welcome our babies more lovingly into the world, we might just find that we are also becoming more compassionate about sharing this planet and also put an end to world hunger.
Email me with your comments and your stories.
P.S. – Skin hunger doesn’t disappear just because we grow up. All people, regardless of age, need to be held and touched. Pass out some hugstoday.
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