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Saturday, 14 May 2016

THE AFTER BIRTH PAUSE

The After Birth Pause

Western birth culture is gradually regaining traditional knowledge about birth.

With wonderful information about delayed cord clamping and skin-to-skin contact available, we are closer than we have been in the last century to reclaiming optimal post-birth physiology.  

But what if we missed a step?

What if, in our hurry to encourage women to obtain optimal post-birth outcomes, we have missed a vital step in the dance. If, in our haste to create connection, we drive over the speed bump of maternal instinct without a thought.  

Here is the scenario.

A mother has reached the stage in her birth where she has finally can meet her sweet baby. The baby is caught by the midwife, but instead of into her arms, the midwife places the baby between the mothers legs and lays him on the bed below her. The mother's head is hanging for a moment from exhaustion, but as she opens her eyes she can see who she did this all for. Really see him. Her baby's face, his alert eyes, his red lips and tiny nose. 

She holds her face automatically about a foot away from her baby's face- the perfect distance for his new eyes to see her with. They stare at each other, taking in all of what they see. It's only a moment, a minute perhaps, but it seems to stretch on for hours, as both their worlds are changing forever. Oxytocin floods through them both and a strong connection is formed and new neurological pathways are created. She whispers "I love you baby" and then proceeds to pick him up and place her onto her chest. There she breathes him in deeply. 

Doesn't that brief pause make sense? That before putting a baby straight to a mother's chest where her neck must crane at uncomfortable angles to view her baby properly, she gets a chance to view him in full. Slowly... at her own pace... with no interruptions... mother taking her baby in completely with her eyes before holding him in her arms.

A mother's natural instinct to want to see her child should be considered as a guide to the first moments after childbirth. A brief pause may indeed be a step that leads to deep connection between mother and infant.

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