Careful observations document newborns’ instinctual behaviors
If you haven't seen the YouTube video of "breast crawl" I encourage you to go right now and watch!
Did you find one?
Hopefully so, and if you're like me you found it both breathtaking and incredibly awesome. Babies come out of the womb with the ability to search for what they're looking for; closeness to their Moms, food, and warmth.
Watching these videos and reading this article confirmed for me that when a babe is born, the first place it should go before "washing" before cord-clamping, before anything is directly to his Mama's chest. Weighing and all of that other "stuff" isn't necessary. Unless, of course the baby is in distress, the time between birth is precious, sacred and important time for Mom to look over her little bundle and for baby to get re-acquainted with Mom from the outside.
Blessings to all,
Back when I worked in a lab, I spent countless hours diligently watching fruit flies mate. It was a strange job — both extremely scandalous and extremely boring. But lots of scientists are also voyeurs, I swear. And those tedious observations were a good way to learn about instinctual behaviors.
So I was a little nostalgic when I came across a paper from scientists in Sweden. The researchers did their own careful observations on 28 of the most mysterious creatures on the planet: brand-spanking-new humans. Videos of babies in their first hour of life gave the researchers an unprecedented view of how newborns instinctually behave, when left to their own devices and nestled skin-to-skin on their mothers’ chests. I found the results, published in January 2011 in Acta Paediatrica, just as fascinating as the Drosophila courtship ritual.
Here are some key milestones in the first hour and 10 minutes of a newborn’s life, presented in median minutes:
Minute 0: Babies wail a robust, angry birth cry that helps wake up the lungs.
Minute 2: After all that wailing, babies spend less than a minute relaxing, holding perfectly still on their mothers’ chests. The authors speculate that this silent, still break might have evolved to keep babies hidden from predators.
Minute 2.5: As they start to wake up, newborns open their eyes for the first time. Babies gradually start moving their heads and mouths.
Minute 8: Babies become even more active, keeping their eyes open for five minutes or longer at a time. During this active phase, newborns seem to grow interested in eating, looking at their mothers’ faces and breasts, making sweet little “hungry” noises and moving their hands toward their mouths.
Minute 18: That was exhausting. Time for another rest.
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Hi there! I'm Erika Davis and I'm a doula working in the Seattle and South Puget Sound area.
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