Tuesday, May 13, 2008

How Baby Experiences Birth

Have you ever noticed in a hospital birth how the baby is treated as an incidental passenger? The mother is encouraged to have drugs and lie on her back. Hmmm. The drugs DO cross the placenta and lying on her back can compress the large arteries that feed the uterus and placenta, and then the baby. I wonder why baby is distressed?

Next, the baby is unceremoniously pulled out with hands, vacuum extractor or taken out surgically, depriving baby of the tight squeeze that is needed to press fluid from the lungs in preparation for breathing.

The baby is suddenly in a very bright place (ever seen how bright those lamps are they point at the birthing mother's vagina? Yikes!), the temperature drops, and in many cases baby is whisked away to an exam table, without feeling a comforting touch from his or her mother. How frightening would that be?

What do you think is going through that baby's mind? Despite what tradition says, babies are very aware. They are aware of what is going on before they are born, and interact with mom or dad when they push on baby's foot through mom's belly. The baby needs to be with mom immediately. If there are problems, at least keep baby within mom's reach so she can reassure baby by touching an arm or leg. The baby knows what mom's touch is like... s/he has felt it through her belly since they were large enough to press against it.

There is some research that suggests babies know if they are wanted or not. They feel fear, rejection, love and comfort. How can anyone separate a baby from its parents when first born? How can they poke a newborn with needles, shove tubes down their throats and handle them roughly? How can they take newborn boys and circumcize them? They are so open and vulnerable.

As human beings, we need gentle, loving touch to survive and thrive. How can we expect babies not to carry trauma from a rough entry into the world when it was just a "typical birth?" Babies are born ready to be imprinted with their parents' faces and touches. Instead the first touch they feel is to be yanked out. The first face they see is most likely wearing a mask. What would you feel if you were to enter a place like that and have no way to escape?

All babies deserve love, gentleness and comfort. They deserve to be treated respectfully. There is the saying that in the eyes of a newborn baby you can see the wisdom of the universe. How sad that we don't pay attention to that wisdom. Instead we feel it is our duty to strip these babies of any wisdom they had to impart to us. I say it is time to learn from our babies. I know mine have taught me more than I ever imagined was possible.


Susana said...

Nice post. To boot, babies are first touched with rubber gloved hands. It is so special to think that in our unassisted births, and even our first homebirth when we used a midwife, my husband was the first persont to touch our children and with his bare hands too.

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