When you first think of Mayim Bialik, a young chipper Blossom probably comes to mind. Or if you’re on the younger end, you probably think of Amy Farrah Fowler (my personal favourite of her work). Or you may think of her as the actress who got a Ph.D. in Neuroscience (and I do believe we can use “the”, not “a” for that category). What most people are probably unaware of is that Ms. Bialik is also a mother who is well in tune with aspects of Evolutionary Parenting, though she calls herself an “Attachment Parent” [i] (and really, the two are quite similar in practice, though the rationale is different and EP has a few extra practices like multiple caregivers and limiting toy exposure). For one, when her sons were younger, she was caught breastfeeding in (gasp) public with them. I know that celebrities have to watch where they do things because photos can crop up anywhere, but it’s always nice to see a famous mother breastfeeding in public to help kill the stigma that somehow breastfeeding, and breastfeeding in public , is wrong or dirty. People seem to forget that babies need to eat and they aren’t adults who can “wait” – they need food regularly to help them grow. She also reports that she breastfed her first child for 26 months and the second was still breastfeeding on demand at 2 ½ years. Whoo hoo!
In addition to breastfeeding, she has talked about her family bed in the media, helping to provide good, solid information on the bonding that occurs during co-sleeping and some of the safety tips. For example, her family has used futons on the floor, pushed together, to avoid the risk of baby falling. They also have used two futons to create enough space for everyone (mom, dad, 5 year old, and the youngest). As Ms. Bialik has said, co-sleeping and cuddling with your children is “beautiful”. Third, she babywears! While some mothers will babywear at the very start, they soon become dependent on the stroller as baby gets older, but as Ms. Bialik realized, babywearing allows for more bonding, touch, and makes nursing on demand much easier. Personally, I find the ability to let my daughter nurse while walking around and doing errands incredibly freeing – no rushing home, no trying to hide (because it’s quite discreet when they’re attached to you), just feed when she wants and continue on the way.
Finally, she also had both children naturally and her second was born at home. As she rightly points out, countries where midwifery and natural birth are considered the norm have lower rates of maternal and infant mortality. I have long argued for homebirth, even though I was unable to complete my home birth and had to transfer. We have come to fear birth in our society and that’s led to a reliance upon other techniques that are not necessary in the vast majority of births. In a day and age where you’re more likely to hear a celebrity talk about how great her epidural was, it’s nice to hear a celebrity talk about how great her natural home birth was.
But not only does Ms. Bialik practice parenting techniques that have been around for centuries, she is trying to get the news out. She is the spokesperson for Holistic Moms Network, which promotes non-mainstream choices in parenting such as attachment parenting, vegetarianism, and home-schooling. While not all of these practices may be for you, they are all out of the mainstream and need someone to make others aware of them. Even if people just learn about their existence from her, she’s done children and their parents a favor by allowing them to be more educated about the different forms of parenting out there and how some of them can really help children develop into moral, empathic, intelligent human beings.
Oh – did I mention she’s also a certified lactation educator? Do I need to say any more? So to Mayim Bialik – actress, neuroscientist, educator, but most importantly mother – I salute you and thank you for helping to make our society a more family-friendly place.