A Birth Doula’s Take on Baby’s First Hour

Baby’s First Hour

Family Time with Gage

Baby’s first breath… The first hour or so as a new family (parents & baby) is time that can’t be replaced. So, no do-overs.  I’m a believer in encouraging couples to take these moments and treasure them.  Regardless of the birth environment, your home, birth center or a hospital,  many aspects of this time together define us as a family.

The first breath is the “essential breath”. Donna Farhi hints at  this breath in one of her books. I often times will talk about reliving (or getting as close as we can to) this breath during pranayama. To explain better, take a nice deep breath, pause and then release the breath nice and slow. Allow as much of your reserve or tidal breath leave the body without too much force. Now a little pause and then open your mouth and let the air in. That is my interpretation of the first breath.  As a newborn there is a little more involved.

The baby must suddenly use his or her lungs. In order for this to happen the pulmonary and systemic circulations separate by closing the connections between them.

Hormones also play a role in this time. We know that oxytocin is present during all of labor. Studies show that oxytocin is also present during the first hours and beyond. This love hormone has at it’s highest  release just after baby is born and before placenta is delivered.  It seems to me that this love hormone flows like crazy during this time since we are looking at our sweet angels – falling in love!  Of course, oxytocin releases during sexual intercourse and lactation, but the level of release during these times is affected by environment factors. There is so much more to explain, but lets stop here and just say that both men and women release oxytocin and endorphins that attach us to each other and the same can be said for the mother-baby bond post delivery.

Behavior is often times interrupted in this first hour. If we were to delivery our babies alone in a warm, dark place the connection would not be broken. The delivery position might be better suited to see and or feel our babies upon delivery. And our need to see and hold baby would come to us slowly and gently. It becomes very necessary for a women to look into the eyes of her newborn. This connection binds them together.

As the baby adjust to his or her first time to not have the continuous flow of nutrients, rooting begins. If we were to allow babies to root around to find the source of nutrition, we would all be amazed at how instinctual breastfeeding is for both mother and baby. At this time, women are still hormonally balanced. It is a natural response.

There is more to talk about, but this is a great place to start. Remember that we know all this stuff. It is in our DNA – trust your instincts! There is always room for education, imitation and time to define techniques.

See you all in class. Namaste.

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