Though it may not feel like it, the big day will arrive. I hope you have chosen to utilize any one of the many options available to help make your childbirth a fulfilling experience. Yet, in anticipating what promises to be one of the most phenomenal experiences for you, you must not overlook what your baby goes through. From the pressure of suctioning his nose and mouth to the sharp pain of his first injection (vitamin K), his welcome can certainly seem unkind.
- Minimize your baby’s physical pain. Make no mistake about it, newborn babies can perceive discomfort and pain, which are new and shocking sensations to them. One thing you can do to comfort your baby is have immediate physical contact with him after birth. If this is impossible, as when undergoing a cesarean section, request that your partner be able to embrace your newborn shortly after his birth. Too often, we as new parents permit hospital staff to unjustifiably separate us from our healthy baby by whisking him away to a nursery moments after his birth. This is wrong and goes against a very basic need of bond with your baby soon after he is born. If your baby requires medical care, once you are physically able to, ask to participate in his care. Above all else, ensure that your baby be touched and embraced frequently, if at all possible. Numerous studies have proven the healing effects of touch on babies and children. They thrive from frequent physical contact and achieve quicker recovery times with improved immune systems, enhanced growth and reduced stress hormones.
- Consider rooming-in. If you and your baby are physically able, ask that he room-in with you. There may be both full and modified rooming-in options available at your birthing facility. Modified rooming-in is when your baby is with you the majority of the day, but is brought back to the nursery several times during the day and all night. Your baby will be brought to you, if you choose, every three-four hours during the night for feedings. This option may be suitable for the mother who is experiencing medical problems and cannot respond to or care for her baby as necessary in the immediate postpartum period. However, every effort should be made to change to full rooming-in as soon as mother is feeling able to safely care for her own baby. Full rooming-in means that your baby is with you day and night. He goes back to the nursery only for medical exams or procedures and when you request that he return, as in when you want to shower or get some rest. Having your baby with you for as much time as possible after his birth is extremely beneficial to both you and your baby. In addition to soothing him during this time of adaptation, the close contact with him will increase your natural intuition and responsiveness to him. The ability to sense what your baby is feeling and thus knowing what he needs creates a natural ease in parenting.
- Begin Intuitive Nurturing. Do not be afraid or intimidated by your new role as a mother (or father); trust yourself to sense what your baby needs and wants. It is entirely possible to perceive what your baby is experiencing as he adapts to his new situation. Begin as soon as you can after your baby’s birth. While you are alone with your baby (try starting in the room of your birthing facility), close your eyes and temporarily forget every piece of childrearing advice you have received from anyone, including family members, physicians, parenting experts, etc. Look, listen and feel your baby; sense his uniqueness. What does he feel like when he is calm? Try to sense the difference in his body when he is calm/alert and calm/sleepy. What about when he begins to cry? What does the intensity tell you? Do you sense the sharpness of pain, or the dullness of discomfort? The vast majority of times when a healthy newborn baby cries it is because he is expressing discomfort or unfamiliar sensations and/or arousals. Obey your own natural instinct to embrace your child, and notice the change in him when you hold him. A child’s cries are designed to evoke a physical response from you, however, it is your baby’s last resort of communication. In time, by familiarizing yourself to your baby’s uniqueness, you will be able to pick up on what your baby needs or wants before he has to cry. Many parents who are intuitively connected to their children can even sense when their baby is getting ill, before symptoms arise.