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Is it normal that? I need time to gather myself before being ready for skin-to-skin

Many questions women ask after childbirth start with ‘Is it normal that ….?’ Many feel the need for validation of their behaviors or feelings during the birth of their child. Therefore in a series of blog posts, I will answer some of the common ‘Is it normal that …..’-questions. Do you also have such a question? Contact me!

The practice of skin-to-skin immediately after birth

Some decennia ago, healthy newborn babies were taken away from their mother straight after birth to be checked by a doctor or nurse and then to be taken to the maternity nursery. Luckily this practice has drastically changed, and the mother-baby dyad is better respected nowadays. Today's practice is to have the baby on the mother’s chest as soon as possible. Skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby after birth is beneficial for many reasons. It regulates the baby’s nervous system and temperature. It helps the placenta to be born. It’s a good first step to initiating breastfeeding. And more.

I see that the practice of putting the baby on the mother’s chest straight after birth is generally known by (expecting) parents. It’s less known however that mothers are not always immediately ready to have their baby on their chest. And because this is less known, mothers sometimes doubt whether their behavior is ‘normal’. So here is my answer to those of you that need to hear it: Yes, you are perfectly normal!

Gathering yourself first

The experience of birthing your baby can be very intense. The emergence of your baby is something that is hard to describe with a pen. To start with, there is the physical stretch to open your body to let the baby pass. Or the incision in case of a caesarean birth. Also, there is the hormonal cocktail of for example adrenaline, oxytocin and beta-endorphins that hopefully brought you in an altered state of mind. And on an emotional and even spiritual level, the birth of your child is quite a shifting moment! You are now a mother, and a new life is coming into the world ‘through’ you!

So, it is totally normal and logical that women feel they need a moment (or two!) to gather themselves after their baby is born. Some women feel they finally can breathe freely again and just need to take a big breath of air and close their eyes for a moment to grasp that the hard work is done. Other women describe that it is such a relief that all pain is suddenly gone, that they just need a moment to enjoy that, before making contact with their baby. Also, there are women that feel so overwhelmed with everything they have gone through in the past hours or day(s), that they need more than a little moment before they are ready to take their baby in their arms. All is totally normal and totally fine. This moment of gathering yourself together can even be considered a normal step in the process of physiological childbirth.

If you feel your baby is put on you too quickly, it is totally fine to express that and indicate it when you are ready. Even if skin-to-skin contact is very beneficial, it doesn’t need to be rushed, and you know yourself when you are ready for it. There is time to gather yourself and to take a couple of breaths or focus inwards to grasp what has just happened. And if you need more than a short moment, that is also fine. Skin-to-skin contact after birth can for example also take place by putting your child on the naked chest of your birth partner. It is good to know that if you are not able to provide immediate skin-to-skin contact with your baby, for whatever reason, you can always catch up later.

NatalWisdom’s birth preparation courses help you trust yourself and your body, which makes it easier to follow your instincts and feel confident during birth and in your new role as a parent. We discuss how the body works, different realistic scenarios and options, and what you can do yourself to increase your chances on a positive experience. Click here for more info.



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