You endured nine months of pregnancy and countless hours of labor and then the exhaustion of delivery. It was rough, but now you have this precious little life in your arms and the memory of pain completely dissipates. But, you know, that tiny human went through a lot too. Here are some thoughts on what the first moments of your baby’s life are like:
- What does birth mean for the baby?
Close your eyes and imagine you are in a place of total security and warmth; a place with no pain or discomfort. Then, suddenly, you are ejected by your host and thrown into a world of intense sensations: light, cold, smells, noises. Your spine is straightened for the first time and your lungs are suddenly breathing air instead of liquid. What the heck is this? It sucks. But now imagine that you are going back to that universe of warmth; you feel your mother’s skin and feel safe in her arms. Reality doesn’t seem quite so harsh now.
- What is the baby going to look like?
Well the baby will possibly look like a beet-root, or an old man, but more likely a perfect little specimen of the miracle of life. Physically, his or her head may be a bit too big and he or she may have a pinkish hue to the skin and their hands and feet may be a bit blue. All this is normal and the stains and strange colors will disappear within 24-48 hours.
- What does the baby feel in his first hours?
This first hour of your baby’s life is critical. The transaction to the real world takes a toll on your little one and they have to adjust. The doctors and nurses will let you know what is being done and their results. Likely he will be cleaned and weighed right away. Never feel afraid to ask questions.
- When is the right time to get close to the baby?
As soon as the baby takes its first breath and cries he should make contact with the mother or father. Skin-to-skin contact is recommended and this is the perfect time to encourage breastfeeding. I say the father should have skin to skin contact because that is just as important as the mother giving it as well. I specifically made a birth plan months before I was due and we all went over it together several times. I also made sure to give a copy of the plan to my doctor and the hospital upon arrival. I had a situation that after being induced for a couple of days, my little one was not dropping and I was not spreading, so I had to have a C-section. An Epidural did not work and neither did a spinal tap so I had to be put to sleep. I was not awake when my little boy was born and to this day I still feel so sad that I did not get that moment with him as soon as he was born to do the skin to skin contact and bond with my baby, but my fiancé did and that was just as important, he fulfilled the birth plan and was able to bond with our son right away and that was an important part I wanted for our son.
- Is it normal for a baby to want to go to sleep right after birth?
Heck yes, and you probably want to as well. Birth is an exhausting process and it is not unusual for the baby to sleep 4-8 hours longer than the mother.
It’s easy to think that while the mother does all the grunt work the baby just joy rides into the outside world but your child goes through a lot to transition from your womb into your arms. Think of it as a joint effort, a goal you both worked together to attain, and take the time to appreciate these precious moments of your baby’s life.
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