Mothering Forum banner

The first hour following birth, by Michael Odent

2266 Views 12 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  SpiralWoman
This originally appeared in Midwifery Today, but I thought some here would appreciate being able to read it. Michel Odent catalogues 12 perspectives on the first hour following birth.
In part...

"Most cultures disturb the first contact between mother and baby during the hour following birth. The most universal and intriguing way is simply to promote a belief, such as the belief that colostrum is tainted or harmful to the baby, even a substance to be expressed and discarded. Such a belief implies that, immediately after birth, the baby must not be in her mother's arms. This implies rituals such as the ritual of cutting the cord immediately. The first contact between mother and baby can be disturbed through many other rituals: bathing, rubbing, tight swaddling, foot binding, "smoking" the baby, piercing the ears of the little girls, opening the doors in cold countries, etc.

It would take volumes to present a comprehensive study of the characteristics of a great number of cultures in relation to how they challenge the maternal protective instinct during the sensitive period following birth. However a simple conclusion can be drawn from a rapid overview of the data we have at our disposal: the greater the social need for aggression and an ability to destroy life, the more intrusive the rituals and beliefs are in the period surrounding birth."
the greater the social need for aggression and an ability to destroy life, the more intrusive the rituals and beliefs are in the period surrounding birth."

To me this alone shows how seriously flawed hospital birth is. The mother is rarely left alone with her new baby, often the baby is removed from the room (to let mother rest).
I hope you'll read the entire article, it's really enlightening!
See less See more
1 - 13 of 13 Posts
Great article. Thx for posting it. Michel Odent is a hero!
I think I'm afraid to find out! There are many strange rituals surrounding birth all over the world. Like taking the baby and scrubbing it clean before "presenting" it to the mother.
See less See more
Smoking means lighting some dried herbs, sage is popular (salvia, meaning saving or healing) and holding the herb bunch as it burns going up and down and over the limbs.

Some acupuncturists do moxibustion with artemesia.

Some people do this to cleanse a room or house.
the greater the social need for aggression and an ability to destroy life, the more intrusive the rituals and beliefs are in the period surrounding birth
this seems very telling!

I believe we can create a more peaceful society one child at a time, and it starts with a peaceful birth into the arms of a loving and gentle mother!!!
See less See more
At my 6 wk pp check-up, I mentioned to my mws how much we loved their silence and respect for the precious moments after the birth of our son.

She looked at me like, duh!, and said, "we're making people here."
I wasn't going to reply to this thread, but this morning I just feel a bit more outspoken than usual.
You know, reading things about early bonding and babies needing their mothers those first few hours after birth really hurts my feelings.
It was totally out of my hands what happened after my c-section. I was separated from my daughter for five hours immediately after she was born.
But I never had any of the problems with bonding that I've read so much about after c-section and/or early separation. There was never any doubt in my mind she was mine. I knew her cry from that of any other baby instinctively. When they were rolling her down the hall to my room, before I had ever held her, I heard her cry and ran (well, as fast as I could at the time) to the door, telling DH, "I hear my baby!"
I can't imagine being more closely bonded with another human being, and personally, I think that initial bonding period or window or whatever you want to call it is highly overrated.
Sure, hospital birth is seriously flawed, but that first hour isn't quite as important as that first decade of life! I think the pathology exists in the mainstream parenting practices, rather than in that first hour. People seem to be pushing their babies away from them their entire lives by their cio and schedules and other stuff. It's about way more than what happens immediately following birth.
See less See more
When I posted this link, I didn't think about the countless mama's who've been in your situation. I can understand your feelings being hurt, I'm sorry. I think what impressed me about the article was just the idea that when possible mom's and baby's should not be unnecessarily separated, like the author mentioned for cleaning, tests, etc. And showing respect for things like "thermoregulation" b/c baby has not had to deal with temperature changes in the womb. And even adaptation to gravity. I know that when a c-section is performed that puts things in an entirely different light. I agree, the first hour is not nearly as important as the first 10 years. Much needs to change about the typical hospital birth, but I am glad C-sections exist, they can save lives and that's the most important thing. I see your next birth will be at the Farm, can I say that I'm jealous? I'll look forward to hearing your wonderful birth story!
I haven't read the article yet, is he saying that bonding cannot happen if mother and baby are separated for a time after birth? I would be surprised if he did, because as you point out, Stacy, that is contrary to the experience of many mothers. I spent most of the first week of my life in the hospital nursery, but my mother has always loved me fiercely. However, it doesn't follow that no mothers or babies are adversely affected by separation at birth. In fact, there is partly a chemical basis for bonding, and it is reasonable to assume that for some mothers (for instance, those who feel unsure about parenthood or are suffering certain stresses, etc.,) the bonding hormones would be instrumental in helping them connect to their babies. And after all, many women find to their dismay that they do not bond to their babies immediately -- if a thwarted hormonal process is not the reason, then what? Must we assume that such a woman is just not the mothering type? Or that she must not have really wanted to have a baby?
See less See more
Stacie, your good mothering absolutly makes up for any loss of bonding in the first hour! It sounds like your experience has born this out.
See less See more
Maybe the earliest experiences aren't as important as some of the others, but I believe they do matter. I remember one study done on infant temperament and the researchers said "it was done on babies at 4 months of age, since when they were that young the effects of parenting would not be felt."

This psychologist really thinks that babies aren't affected by parenting? Anyone who knows a CIO child and an AP child could tell you they are affected.
I haven't read the article yet, is he saying that bonding cannot happen if mother and baby are separated for a time after birth? I would be surprised if he did
Right, he's not saying we don't bond with our babies thru a wide variety of circumstances. I get that he is saying that *as a culture* we put rituals in place that do not foster us bonding with our babies & that undermine the mother-infant bond, and that modern hospital procedures are now some of those rituals. The natural urge to bond is stronger than those things which can "get in the way" in most cases & Stacy, your story is such a beautiful example of that.

I have had an opposite experience, tho. I had an extremely "mild" seperation from my baby at his birth, he was still in the same room (being "checked out" bcz we had a lot of meconium staining when my water 1st broke, but none present on him at the birth BTW) & in he was in my arms within about 5 minutes or so. However, he was really traumatized by his entrance into this world, I didn't get to see or feel of him until he was swaddled up & had been crying that entire time. We both looked at each other in shock, like "& who are you??" I feel now like I let him down by not being the 1st person to hold him or touch him. After a raucous 2nd stage cheering section, having to strongly advocate for not having an epi & then having to stop them from doing fundal massage & cord traction during my 3rd stage, I was so focused on the externalities of our environment, it was super hard for me, even after a drug free birth to calm down & focus on the baby. I had alot of hubbub going on. And all this after a planned homebirth. Sigh.

If I am blessed with a 2nd child, I will be doubly aware of that "we are making people here" reality & make sure my birth attendants share it. I feel like DS & I are still making up a deficit & getting to know each other & I still sometimes don't feel like "he's mine" (I think being away from my extended family, & around DH's family contributes to that, but that another topic, eh?) He has always been super sensitive to new positions & sudden movements, we try to do everything gradually & peacefully, like being put down on the changing table, into the car seat etc, but we are now getting thru that. For us, if I deemphsiaze our reality of what happened, I will not get to help him with what he needs.

thanks, Maria
See less See more
1 - 13 of 13 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.