Getting Born: Babies Are Not Passive Passengers

Getting Born: Babies Are Not Passive Passengers

By Vicki Elson, MA, CCE, CD Feel free to copy this.

I remember my firstborn kicking me in the diaphragm as her head was coming out — exactly like a swimmer pushing off the side of the pool with her feet.

A baby is an active swimmer trying to find her way out. A vertex-presenting baby (head-down — that’s the most common) has to fit his/her head, which is wider front to back, down through his/her mom’s pelvis, which is wider side to side at the top and front to back at the bottom. So s/he starts out facing his/her mom’s side, and then turns to face her spine, all with the crown of the head coming first. They have to keep their little chins tucked onto their chests until crowning, when they lift their heads, their faces sweeping their moms’ perineums. Then they “restitute” back toward the side again, so the shoulders can be born.

(For some reason, most babies face the right side. Somebody asked me once if in the southern hemisphere they face the left side — don’t look at me, I have no idea.)

Imagine what it’s like for a baby to work his/her way down through the cervix, the bones, and the birth canal, like figuring out a puzzle. All the while there are these very big rhythmic squeezes, and then…the world of light, air, blankets, hats, breathing, and big noisy people.

You can see why a tender newborn might appreciate skin-to-skin contact with his/her mama, and why newborn examinations and procedures are best done in mama’s lap whenever possible. Mom’s just the right temperature. Her voice is familiar. She is hormonally and spiritually primed to fall in love with the baby. And…she has milk.

Babies aren’t passive breastfeeders, either.  With minimal help, they will find the milk, just like puppies, kittens, calves, foals, lambs, bear cubs, and baby dolphins, bears, and porcupines.  Visit to see a video!

Current research is revealing more and more reasons why immediate newborn skin-to-skin contact is so nourishing for parent-infant bonding, breastfeeding, and health.  But for me, it was just plain the best feeling ever.  EVER!

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