I love watching a mother hen walk around the yard with her clutch of new chicks. They constantly make little "cheep cheep" noises softly as they wander after her pecking at random things on the ground. It's an adorable sight, and I can always tell when the group is nearby from the sounds. But sometimes a chick get separated from the mother. The result is an immediate distress cry from the babies. It's much louder and more urgent than their normal sound. It makes the mother instantly turn around to go find her "crying" baby.
It's the same thing with other animals-pigs, goats, cows. When babies think they are in serious trouble they let out a loud and insistent distress cry. This cry brings Mama running and heaven help you if she thinks you're hurting her baby! We all understands why this happens. It protects the baby from danger and alerts the mother to a situation where she's needed. Her very presence will calm the baby down quickly.
Why do we think our babies don't need us? Why do we consider the stress they feel when separated from us as less than any other kind of stress? As Western society mothers we are told to ignore the distress cry from our babies because it doesn't mean anything. Even the AAP recently came out with a statement that outlined how harmful pain and stress is for the development of newborns. A bit of a "duh" moment for many of us mothers, but at least there is some scientific acknowledgement that babies are not immune to the well-documented effects of stress on both adults and animals.
I want to encourage mothers to listen to their own instincts. When your baby is giving the distress cry they want you. They're scared of being alone, maybe they're hurt, maybe they're not sure anyone will ever come get them. Remember, batteries go out of baby monitors, babies get tangled up in blankets, their arms get stuck through the bars of a crib, they get sick, and many other things could be happening when you leave them alone to cry. The claims that you'll "spoil" your baby by soothing them is nonsense that has no basis in either research or common sense. If that were the case, every animal raised by its mother on the planet would be spoiled rotten!