Normal Birth

I got the idea for these from the Birth Without Fear “Hey Girl” contest.  I didn’t get them done in time to enter the contest, of course ;), but I had to share!



Bonding with your baby doesn’t have to be difficult, strained, confusing, or scary.  Instead, it can be primitive–and I mean that in the deepest, most physical, empowering, irresistible sense.

When a baby is born, he is still a primitive being.  He doesn’t have the ability to make rational choices about where he centers his love.  Meanwhile, his neurochemistry is making connections and setting baselines that can have lifelong effects, and the way he is treated at and following birth has direct effects on that neurochemistry.  In fact, we know that babies (and not just newborns, but older babies as well) who receive minimal touch from their mothers often fail to thrive.  We could speculate about why that is, but really, it’s irrelevant.  The point is that we cannot explain to a baby why she is alone in a mechanical warmer with goop in her eyes, with skin pricked painfully, instead of snuggling that skin against the only sense of security she has ever known.  So if we cannot calm her with reason, then the only way to give her the neurological support that she needs is never to remove her from the arms of her mother to begin with.  And just in case we ever doubted that in her mother’s arms is her rightful place, a baby in skin-to-skin contact after birth breathes better, has better temperature and heart rate regulation, and will usually find the breast on her own.

On the other side of this new relationship, the grown woman tends not to be so primitive; indeed, many of us think that our primitive side is something shameful.  But the primitive is a valuable part of the whole of being human, and when we suppress it instead of integrating it, we also suppress valuable resources and abilities.

Certainly the ability to override the physical is an amazing skill that allows a woman to overcome a traumatic birth to bond with her baby, or even to bond with an adopted baby.  But when we take it for granted that a mother will use her powers of reason to bond with her baby no matter how much we abuse their relationship, we ignore the way the emotional, physical, and spiritual sides of ourselves participate in the birth and bonding process.  Pregnancy and labor involve neurochemical and physical changes that make it easier for us to be mothers, and that emotional and hormonal dance does not end with labor.  This is why the sixth Lamaze Healthy Birth Care Practice is “Keep Mother and Baby Together–It’s Best for Mother, Baby, and Breastfeeding.”  If we are willing to let it do its part, the same primitive source of knowledge involved in conceiving and growing a baby provides valuable instincts and hormonal reactions for not only bonding with that baby, but also caring for him.

To put it another way, the fact that people can overcome losing a leg doesn’t justify removing legs for less than life-saving reasons.  Just because a mother can find ways to bond that are not the original primitive bonding that occurs in the first hours after birth, doesn’t mean that it is ethical to deprive her of that important and very physical part of being a mother, nor to deprive her of the advantages of having a baby who has been able to bond normally.  Whenever it is possible to preserve someone’s own leg, it is most humane to do so.  Whenever it is possible to keep mother and baby together–and this can actually have even more advantages with preemies and after a cesarean–that is the most humane course of action.  We no longer expect a woman to overcome a lack of physical attraction and hormonal chemistry to marry as her parents see fit, so why do we expect mothers to forgo a deeply physical attachment to their babies?  Those “primitive” bonds function at the deepest levels of our minds.  Let’s take full advantage of the opportunity to access those unconscious abilities!