Picture this… A mother sits holding her newborn son on a postnatal ward during visiting time. One of her visitors reaches forward, grasps the baby by the head and pulls him out of his mothers arms leaving him dangling by his neck. Can you imagine the reaction of the mother and those around? Yet no one raises an eyebrow when this occurs during birth.
If we accept that human babies are people and have feelings (both physical and emotional) why do we accept how many babies are treated during birth? What is the experience of birth like from the perspective of the baby? I realise that the following are extreme examples, but this approach is common place worldwide.
A medical approach to welcoming a baby to the world
Once the baby has been ‘removed’ their first minutes are spent away from their mother being subjected to assessments (abuse):
This interference with the mother-baby unit can result in long term implications for bonding, breastfeeding, maternal bleeding, baby’s skin colonisation with maternal bacteria (ie. infection, gut health).
A humane approach to welcoming a baby to the world
Whilst in some cases it is not possible, I believe that we should aim for all babies to have the opportunity to:
- Make their own way through their mother’s body and into the world (ie. no unnecessary pulling).
- For their first touch to be from the hands of a person who loves them (mother, father, family member, friend).
- To be held immediately by their mother skin-to-skin.
- To be sustained by their placenta until the placenta stops functioning (ie. leaving the cord intact).
- To be left in peace to find their mother’s nipple and latch on.
- To be treated gently and with dignity and respect during any ‘checks’ that their mother chooses to have done.
Babies are people too.
Note: see the video on my post re. shoulder dystocia for more information about why pulling babies out is not only unkind but also dangerous.
Here is a baby being born without being pulled out or separated from her mother:
Note the mother un-loops the umbilical cord from around the baby’s neck. See this post for more information about cords around the neck at birth.
Edited and updated: March 2013