The talented Jennifer Margulis, author of “The Business of Baby” recently shared the following video on her Facebook page.  Take a look-

 

Isn’t it fascinating that millions of adults can watch this not bat an eye, but my four year old can watch it and immediately say, “They are making that baby cry.”

Isn’t it also sad that women who desire something as simple as a natural birth or a home birth are criticized as “wanting a gold star” or “not thinking about the baby” as though only the mother needs respect during the birth process and after?  Can you blame women for wanting to birth in a place where they can simply hold their baby without fear of them being removed from their arms?

Clearly, babies need their mothers.  (Did you notice how the baby literally held on to mama?)  And they don’t just need them eventually or for a few seconds.  Babies need their mothers immediately and for some time (read: months) in order to feel secure in this new world.

But whether you birth in your living room or an operating room, those moments after birth are important and your baby will need you just the same. Women need their babies and their babies need their mothers.  A cesarean birth does not mean that mom should not be given her baby- though that is exactly how it is handled.  (Obviously some situations necessitate a baby being taken.)  Isn’t it obvious how badly this baby wants its mother?  While many commentators call the video “precious” it is more heartbreaking than cute for a brand new baby to be denied what it most wants, maybe even needs.

When I talk to women who have had surgical births it is almost universal that their babies are taken from them, usually for many hours, post birth.  This is traumatic for both the mother and the baby.  In fact, from the video the baby was more visibly upset than anybody else.

I must admit that the reason I had my second baby out of hospital was largely because of my desires postpartum.  With my first I had a healthy baby and a natural birth.  The hospital was great and supportive and helped me make that happen more than I can even tell.  But once the baby was born and placed on my chest for a token length of time, he was taken to the nursery to be weighed and measured and tested.  Yes, daddy went with him. and that was great for them.  But I did not see him for many hours.  By the time he was returned to me, bundled and fast asleep, I had yet to nurse him but those “golden hours” just after birth had passed.  He was no longer interested in nursing and my hormonal high had dwindled and I was exhausted.

Babies also need mom, and no matter how fabulous daddy is or how much he has talked to the baby in- utero, he can’t nurse and he hasn’t been the home for baby for the last nine months.  Baby might know his voice, but they don’t share the same connection as mother and baby do.

Nameless nurses, no matter how gentle, don’t share much of a connection at all with this baby that they will probably never see again.  Can’t we easily change this postpartum care?

One way we can make care more baby-friendly is to do more mother-friendly care.  When we honor the birth process and the mother it only follows to honor and respect the baby.  A mother who has been treated respectfully throughout the birth process and who has made informed decisions is treated with dignity.  It is an easy extension to then honor the baby.  This is often done backwards however with more and more hospitals becoming baby-friendly but skipping the mother-friendly.  But the two go together in perfect harmony.  After all, for the entire labor the mother and her child are literally in one body.

How tragic that we have come to accept as normal that a wailing and obviously breathing, healthy infant is taken from its mother by gloved strangers. I often wonder how we got here and I hope that we can change this for the sake of mothers and babies everywhere.

Nobody deserves to begin their life being pried away from the only person they recognize.  Especially not a baby.

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