Why Your Baby’s Birth Matters

A trip to a strange place with strange smells.  Bright lights, busy people.  Numbness.  A carefully cleaned and wrapped baby who doesn’t stay with Mama.  Any other mammal would reject her baby after a beginning like that.  Which means most American mothers have to welcome their newborns with their heads and not their hearts.  Not the best start for confident mothering.

Not the best start for breastfeeding. Not the best start for love.

Strange place, strange smells, bright lights, busy people.  Even if your head wants a hospital, your physiology wants to stay home.  Mammal mothers seek a place that feels right, that smells right, that is private and quiet.  A place that they control, not a place where they give up
control.  Remember this, and hire a doula who can help keep unwanted intrusions and unnecessary procedures away from you.  Investigate all your birth options, including birth centers and home births.  You might want to read Peggy Vincent’s “Baby Catcher.” 


Numbness.  Most mammals need the sensations of birth.  If their body doesn’t feel the birth, the chain of events leading to peaceful motherhood is disrupted.  Epidurals also affect the baby.  He may not give out normal signals to you for up to a month, and that may affect how you respond to him.  All mammal babies – including humans – are born ready to find and attach to Mama’s nipples.  After an epidural, a baby may be less able to do so, so if you decide to have an epidural you’ll want to have good help available afterwards.  Ask if your planned birthplace has IBCLCs International Board Certified Lactation Consultants) available 24/7.  An epidural prevents you from producing your normal surge in endorphins – exhilaration hormones that also protect your in-labor baby from discomfort.  The “waterlogging” that comes with long IVs can make your nipples too swollen for your baby to manage easily, and can delay
your milk supply.  What is the supplementation rate where you are thinking of giving birth?  Is banked human milk available if your own is not?  Don’t be fooled by the Birth Channel!  A normal birth is not a medical event or a source of horrible pain.  It happens on its own, with the woman moving in whatever way feels right to her, feeling the labor and feeling – being – in charge.  Find someone who will support this, not someone who will tell you when “it’s time for your epidural.”  If your friend “loved her epidural,” ask her about her first month of motherhood.  To learn more about how today’s routine interventions make birth and breastfeeding more difficult, read Sarah Buckley and Ina May Gaskin’s book, “Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering.”


A cleaned and dressed baby.  Your baby expects to smell you, feel you, and stay with you.  Your own physiology expects to smell and feel your baby.  When either one of you is washed and dressed right away, your instincts can be altered or even forgotten.  You may find that “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, 8th edition” answers a lot of your questions, especially when birth doesn’t happen the way you wanted.  


Let your birth – like your breastfeeding relationship – be something to look back on with deep pride and pleasure.  Don’t let myths and misconceptions steal this critically important beginning from you both.   But first, you have some important work to do.  Start reading!


©2015 Diane Wiessinger, MS, IBCLC


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