The moment you have been waiting and preparing for has arrived – your little bundle is born! Your newborn is in your arms for the first time. So many emotions flow through you that you cannot even identify them all. In those first moments with baby, the mixture of tears, laughter, and smiles as you look down at your miracle with your partner – is both magical and overwhelming!
Love floods you, and while you may have some thoughts like “I am not sure if I will be a good mom for this sweet baby of mine,” you know one thing – you will do anything in your power to protect this baby!
For some moms, in these first moments with baby, love immediately fills them. For others, it may take a while to feel that powerful connection. That is more than okay mama. Becoming a parent is the biggest job in the world. Some of us need extra support to settle into motherhood. For me personally, that connection was felt at a different pace with each of my girls.
Let’s focus in on the first few moments after a baby is born and what is happening.
First Moments With Baby
A baby spends a long 9 months developing in a nice, cozy and warm womb. When he or she is born, their instincts for survival outside of the womb will kick in right away. However, there are some things that we can become conscious about and do to help your little one adjust.
The moment of your baby’s first breath is intense as this is what you have been waiting for! When the majority of babies are born, you will hear a cry, sputter or a cough as they take that first breath on their own, but some babies will need a little assistant to get going. This is big for the baby because this is the first time their lungs, digestion, and circulation are working independently of you.
Now that your baby is breathing – how are they taking it all in?
This where you come in to help! How they adjust varies from baby to baby. Some babies come out wide-eyed and quiet. They calmly look around (mostly at you mama!) – soaking it all in. Some babies may take a peek and then, goodnight! Don’t worry though, one of your baby’s strong instincts is to feed within the first hour. They will want to find your breast or feed, even if they need a little snooze first. Finally, some babies will make themselves heard by the only way they know how – crying – often loudly at first!
No matter how your baby reacts to their new world around them – once they are placed in their mother’s arms and on her chest, skin-to-skin for that magical golden first hour – your baby will feel extremely secure and loved.
- Regulate the baby’s temperature and keep glucose levels higher. Your breasts are able to stabilize your baby’s temperature when he or she is placed on them. The contact keeps the baby’s vitals steady and temperature regulated.
- Keep the baby’s heartbeat stable by synchronizing it with Mom’s heartbeat. A mother’s heartbeat can coordinate with her baby’s heartbeat within seconds!
- Increase bonding. The hour after birth is the “Sacred” or “Golden” hour. It’s during these first moments with baby that both mom and baby are primed to develop their chemical connection. Oxytocin or the “love hormone” is responsible for this connection.
- Reduce Postpartum Depression. During those first moments with baby, feeling the baby on her chest, smelling, kissing and snuggling rouses these intricate maternal hormones that stimulate mother behaviors and feelings. This can help reduce PPD symptoms of disconnect.
- A less crying baby! Holding a baby, skin-to-skin, for a few hours a day can help reduce crying in an infant. It keeps them calm and secure. This also lowers stress levels in a mom and helps her to feel more in control.
- Improve sleep for both baby and Mom. A baby held skin-to-skin sleeps better and stays asleep longer thus allowing a Mother to rest too.
- Happier tummy and a stronger immune system for baby! Yes – skin-to-skin can help the baby’s digestive system! Contact on Mom’s chest stimulates the vagal nerve which keeps digestion strong and nutrition absorbs better for stronger immunity.
- BREASTFEEDING! Skin-to-skin contact improves the breastfeeding relationship between Mom and baby very early on. A baby placed on Mom immediately after birth who continues with skin to skin at home is more likely to breastfeed with success and for longer. This helps Mom’s supply build and stay well established. Swaddling a baby away from Mom will hamper building her supply.
We can also help baby by dimming the lights after birth because their eyes are sensitive and still adjusting. Undisturbed, quiet time lying on mom’s chest while breastfeeding is the best thing for baby. Many hospitals are now reserving this golden hour to do just that and holding off on any newborn screenings. Unless of course there are any complications, but your care team will immediately explain these and what they need to do.
What about you mama?
On top of all of the emotions that you feel as you hold your new baby, your body is rapidly adjusting to not being pregnant. You may shake, feel nauseated and just downright EXHAUSTED. Make sure to get fluids and a snack in as soon as you can to refuel. I’ve found it’s super beneficial to drink 5-6 cups a day (hot or cold) of my post-partum tea blend in those first 48 hours after delivery.
Depending on whether or not you had an epidural or a C-Section, you may be able to take a shower a few hours after birth. This will help you feel like a new woman! If you are breastfeeding, it is strongly recommended to wait until your baby has had their first latch and feed. This is because the smell you have to your baby is the same smell as the amniotic fluid that they floated around in for so long! This helps a baby to feel safe after they are born. Nature is amazing, isn’t it?
The best tip that I was ever given was to wait as long as possible to welcome visitors (minus other children you have who will be absolutely dying to meet their new sibling!). This time lets you and your partner come down from the intensity of the birth – and ensures calm for your baby who is easily stimulated at this stage. Visitors will, of course, be so excited to hold and see your baby. All the baby really needs and wants at this time though is their parents. There will be plenty of bonding time with others to come!
No matter which order you do things such as: taking a shower, eating and getting up to move – within those first moments with baby and hours after birth – having baby relax on your bare chest is the most beneficial thing for both of you because this truly helps both baby and mama to adjust, bond and have a gentle and magical start to their lives together.
Lindsay is an author, motivational speaker, birth psychology and maternity health specialist & natural mommy blogger for Our Green House.