1 simple tip for a gentler birth

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How to boost bonding and ease baby’s entry into the world

The moment of birth comes as a great shock to a baby. Life inside the womb is cozy—warm, dark, quiet, soft, liquid, and all embracing. Suddenly, after some brutal squeezing, that comforting environment vanishes. Now there is bright light, noise, hard surfaces, loss of body contact, and this strange sensation of being surrounded, not by liquid, but by air. No wonder the baby lets out a cry of panic.

Observations of newborns reveal that they are far less traumatized by the drama of being born if they are greeted by peace and quiet, and in a room with soft lighting. Bright light might be needed for the birth itself, but once the baby has arrived safely, dimming the lights allows his eyes to adapt more gradually.

And instead of being picked up and examined right away, allowing a newborn baby to remain in close contact with his mother’s body also greatly reduces panic. It is no accident that the umbilical cord is of just the right length—approximately 20 inches—for a baby to lay on his mother’s stomach and be embraced by her while still attached to the placenta.

Babies treated in this relaxed way scream and grimace far less after birth. And as far as the baby is concerned, there is no urgency at this point. His cord is still active and continues to beat for several minutes after the delivery is complete. During this time he starts to breathe the air, with his little lungs slowly taking over for the cord. This switch, if not interfered with, is a gradual one.

When the time comes for the baby to be cleaned, weighed, and wrapped up, the interruption will be far less stressful if he experienced this bonding time with mom.

—  Adapted from Amazing Baby, by Desmond Morris, Firefly Books. Visit fireflybooks.com to order. 

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