If only new born babies talk, surely we will have a distinctly different outlook about labour and childbirth.
Yes, labour can be terribly painful but as new findings have shown; it is also filled with hitherto unknown feelings and emotions painful for the baby. While moms can get some medication, like epidural, laughing gas, and others, there is nothing of such available to baby, who also has to do some work on that day.
I remember the doctor who attended my first birthing experience telling me how my children had gone through a lot already to be birthed, and that I should just let their Dad and my sister take them to the nearby Teaching Hospital rather than seeing them, forget holding them.
Even though, it didn’t sound right, I didn’t set my eyes on my babies until the next morning, and truly, my son looked exactly what he had gone through, as he was going for pale to pink to blue in a matter of minutes.
With new technology, there is a better understanding of what babies experience, but there are still some questions left to be answered. While we wait for more answers, below are some of what baby feels during delivery.
Baby knows and feels when contractions start:
Baby surely notices when mom has a contraction. During a contraction, the blood and oxygen that reaches baby drops slightly. Thankfully, this is usually not a problem for the baby. The baby’s system will respond by having a faster heart beat after the contraction. This helps to replenish the blood and oxygen the baby needs.
Often times, the baby’s heart rate is continually monitored throughout labour with a fetal heart rate monitor.
Although the baby’s body notices that a change is happening during contractions, the baby doesn’t feel the pain of the contraction like mom does. Mom’s uterus will cramp and become hard during a contraction, but baby has much cushioning from this through the amniotic fluid and placenta.
Baby’s face gets crammed in the birth canal:
Okay, this was something I’m sure we all have inkling about, or how else is baby going to pass through that narrow path in the case of a vagina birth.
First of all, the baby may have had its head down for the last few weeks of pregnancy. When labour starts, the baby’s head gets pushed further and further into the birth canal…and the face cramping starts. While the baby will still try to help the process along, it won’t be able to move as freely as it once could.
The head will be firmly pressed down into the birth canal. The baby will still turn one way or another, to be able to make it through the birth canal.
It sounds frightening, right? Well, baby has to go through that. The only saving grace is that the baby continues to receive its oxygen through the umbilical cord, until just after birth.
Baby can get distressed:
Babies can become distressed during labour. This is different than feeling emotional distress. When a baby is in distress, there is usually a weakening heart rate or lack of oxygen. Instead of feeling extreme pain or anxiety, the baby would probably feel weak or sleepy. It might be similar to passing out.
Especially in births that are high risk, induced or that include an epidural, doctors pay special attention to baby’s heart rate.
These births tend to be riskier, and the baby’s heart rate gives a good indication of how well baby is doing during the labour.
Baby can see and hear:
It is well established that a baby has some auditory abilities before it enters the world.
In fact, doctors say that hearing a mother talk and sing during nine months in the womb allows a baby to recognize the sound of her voice after it’s born – an integral part of parent-child bonding.
On the other hand, a baby’s eyesight before birth, by contrast, is harder to gauge. But after it is born, researchers say, the baby’s eyesight is blurry at first and ability to focus isn’t top notch.
However, when held about 8 to 15 inches away from Mom’s face (it’s no coincidence that this is around breast level, where baby usually feeds), the baby has the ability to detect his mother’s facial features
Baby’s thyroid gland is elevated:
How does a baby who’s coming from a 98.6-degree environment adjust to a 70-degree delivery room? The thyroid plays a big role here.
Scientists say, at birth, a baby’s thyroid level is over the roof.
That surge is caused both by exposure to cold and by increased adrenaline. Elevated thyroid levels cause heat production from a type of fat called “brown” fat, which is essential in helping a newborn regulate its temperature outside the womb.
Baby sleeps on and off during labour:
Although mom may find it difficult to get a little shut eye during active labour, the baby usually has no problem.
Babies tend to sleep on and off during labour, as they would normally do.
Once the baby is born, it becomes obvious that it sleeps most of the day and night (just not for very long periods). Newborns will also go to sleep if they are becoming over stimulated. Their brains have so much information to sort, store and organize about their new world, that it can easily become overwhelming.
Baby’s lungs are squeezed as they prepare for first breath:
As a baby pushes and squeezes its way through the birth canal, its lungs are squeezed.
This process enables all of the fluid in the lungs to be pushed out, so that baby is ready to take its first breath.
Babies who are delivered through Caesarean sections don’t experience this essential squeeze. Thus they have wet lungs, which can make their breathing harder and faster until the fluid is absorbed. The Wet lung syndrome usually takes care of itself in the first few days after birth.
Baby can feel yanked during C-section:
Just as the baby feels crammed and squeezed during a vaginal birth, babies can feel the yank, when they are pulled out of the womb.
Caesarean section procedures happen quickly, and the baby probably won’t have an indication of anything unusual happening until the doctor actually has his hands on it.
The baby may feel manhandled and pulled from the womb. Soon enough, though, it will be in the loving arms of its mom.
Baby often feels mom’s emotions:
In the womb and out, babies are very attuned to their mom’s emotions. While still in the womb, the baby is in a sea of mom’s hormones.
The baby can also hear mom’s heart thump peacefully along, or race out of control.
If mom is feeling stressed during labour, it will change the hormones around baby. Luckily this change will be short-lived, and not have long term effects on the baby.
When mom feels constant or extreme stress throughout the pregnancy, this can have lasting effects on the baby.
Research has shown that moms who experience high stress during pregnancy often have babies who later battle depression and irritability in life.
I’m sure, by now, you are thinking, “Wow, so babies go through just to come to this life?” I felt like that too, when I stumbled upon these findings.
So, henceforth, I will be saying congratulations to a new mom, and bravo to the newborn. Both of them deserve a pat on the back for a job well done.
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