Week 40: Newborn Decisions
During the early days postpartum with our four kids, we always put a sign on our door to remind people that our home was a special sanctuary with a newborn inside.
-Aviva Jill Romm, Natural Health after Birth
What’s Happening in Your Body?
Your body is ready to give birth. Soon you will be meeting your baby!
What’s Happening with Your Baby?
You may notice sharp kicking and pressing into your softened cervix that can feel almost knife-like. Your baby is now fully matured and ready for birth!
During the moments directly after the birth, you need plenty of time to rest quietly with your baby. Don’t let anything stand in the way of that. To find out how, read more about Newborn Decisions.
Now is your chance to touch and gaze at this amazing new life. Babies are incredibly alert directly after birth. You may find her staring at you with wide-open eyes. Find out more about the baby’s birth, cutting the umbilical cord, and the birth of the placenta in the full article.
Once the baby is born, comfort food will help you to feel nurtured and soothed. If mac ‘n’ cheese is what will do it for you, go out and stock up on it now. If you prefer a healthier option, try our Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie. This recipe freezes well, so you can stash it away to enjoy later..
Holding your baby for the first hour after birth activates nature’s hormonal blueprints for the brain and nervous system of both mother and baby.
Mothers in all cultures instinctively cradle their babies at their left breast. When the baby is in contact with the mother’s heart rhythm through this skin-to-skin contact, the mother’s senses, instincts, and intelligence are flooded with the supportive, confirmative, instinctual information that she needs for this radical change in environment. The mother instinctively knows what to do, and begins to communicate with her baby on a nonverbal level.
This awakening of maternal capabilities is well known among animal researchers, who believe that the pregnancy and birth hormones affect the brains of mothers who have recently delivered.
Get Your Hormone Boost: Oxytocin and prolactin are two hormones that help you feel and act like a mother.
Oxytocin is secreted during lovemaking, birth, and breastfeeding. It also causes the rhythmic uterine contractions of labor. High levels of oxytocin continue to be produced after birth, culminating with the birth of the placenta, and then gradually subside.
Ongoing oxytocin production is enhanced by skin-to-skin and eye-to-eye contact and by the baby’s first suckling. That’s another reason it’s so important to look at, touch, and breastfeed your baby immediately after birth. These activities keep your contractions strong for delivering the placenta.
Prolactin, the mothering hormone, produces the aggressive, protective instincts of motherhood, as well as the ability to surrender and submit to the needs of the baby. Levels of prolactin increase in pregnancy and during labor and peak at birth. Prolactin is also the major hormone involved in breastmilk synthesis and production. In the breastfeeding relationship, prolactin activates the mother’s vigilance and helps her to put her baby’s needs first.
The goats have no midwives.
The sheep have no midwives.
When the goat is pregnant she is
When the sheep is pregnant
She is safely delivered.
You, in this state of pregnancy,
will be safely delivered.
-African Chant, sung by the village elders
and midwives to pregnant women
Image by Durga Yael Bernhard