The moment of Birth is a very powerful time of transition for the mother and the baby. This is the moment when a woman becomes a mother and a baby transitions from a floating world of warm water into a world of gravity and air and takes a First Breath. When mamababy are left together and alone to explore each other at the time of these First Breaths, their instincts will guide this time of transition perfectly. There really is nothing that needs to be taught or learned; no interventions or other hands or voices are necessary, and in fact are disruptive and detrimental to the process. We do, however, need to unlearn what modern medical birth has imposed on mamababies at this sacred time, which involves separation and much intervention with disastrous impacts. Think about the impact of disruption of this transition- the moment when a mother is born, if disrupted and interfered creates a mother who is distrustful of her own power for mothering; the moment when a baby is born, if disrupted, creates a child who will feel that the world is unloving, lonely and scary.
Now watch what happens when this time of First Breaths is honored, by allowing mamababy quiet, undisturbed time and space for their instincts to unfold….
Exploring with Eyes– Is it you? Is this the one I’ve felt moving in my belly all these months? Is it you? Are you the one that has nurtured me, sung to me, swayed with me since the beginning of time? I see you, I see you. Hormones flowing through mamababy at the time of birth, dilate our pupils… we are wired to find each other and imprint on each other with our eyes. This first meeting is successful when the environment is dim or dark, allowing our eyes to feel comfortably wide open and locked in on each other’s face.
Exploring with Voice/Ears– Baby calls out, cries, coughs, sputters… Hello, little one! Oh my, you are here! We did it!….. Yes, this is my mama; I’d know that voice anywhere…. Yes, I am here…I hear you, I hear you… Even a baby who is born a little stunned or stressed from low oxygen at birth, will come around when they hear mother’s voice… this exploration is successful when no other sounds or voices are distracting from this most important meeting of the voice and ears.
Exploring with Touch– arms reaching out, arms drawing in… soft landing on warm breast, hearts beating, together again… I accept you, I accept you …fingertips stroking small, round fuzzy head, cheeks, nose, ears…. Hands cradling back of neck and bum, gentle pat, gentle pat, just like before. .. this is the only stimulation baby needs… Skin on skin, nothing else… no gloves, no towels, no stethoscopes, nothing but healing, loving touch.
Exploring with Smell– breathing in, the smell of a newborn- top of your head, behind your ears…. this is my baby…First breaths take in her smell, this is my mama…I recognize you… both smell of that known, comfortable, all-encompassing scent of amniotic fluid….tiny glands around a mother’s nipple at birth emit this same scent, baby is of course coated in it… we are the same, we are one, we are together still.
Exploring with Mouth– a kiss on your head, and one for each of your toes… I can help you clear your nose, that’s it baby… fluid draining, air is entering… I love you, I love you… this is love’s first kiss. Have you seen it in animals? Look it up…. Kitty Cats lick, lick, lick… Chimpanzee Mama puts that whole baby head in her mouth…. Dogs, horses, goats, cows, tigers, monkeys, bears…. Clean, warm, dry, stimulate, suck, lick, kiss…. Who taught them that? No one, it is instinctual.
Of course this is just the beginning, this instinct-led First Breaths exploration is the fundamental foundation for instinct-led breastfeeding … climbing, crawling, smelling, lunging, rooting, licking, mouthing, tasting, latching, suckling, nursing… mamababy supporting each other, in awe of their instinctual nature… in awe of nature’s miracle, as it unfolds perfectly… again, and again.
Perhaps it goes without saying, but I will say it here anyway, just to be certain…. Of course no one has touched or disturbed the cord during these moments of First Breaths exploration, the cord is designed to stay intact half in and half out of the mother, still delivering vital blood and oxygen to the baby to support a gentle transition to First Breaths.
I once watched a documentary video which described the experience of baby humpback whale at birth as “the only landmark is a mountain of mother.” That is my hope for all our babies…. May they be born onto a mountain of mother… may their First Breaths be witnessed and supported by that mountain, undisturbed by anyone else- in sight, sound, touch, smell and taste- natural, instinctual, peaceful.
Peace on Earth, begins with Birth…. May it be so for you and yours
Based on the teachings of Sister MorningStar, www.sistermorningstar.com and the book, Birth without Violence by Frederik Leboyer
Artwork is “First Breath” by Wyland, www.wylandstore.com
Documentary video quoted above is Humpback Whales, a MacGillivray Freeman IMAX film narrated by Ewan McGregor