Tell The Story of What Happened
Your baby is experiencing her birth.
As her parent, imagine what she might be feeling and perceiving at different stages of the process. Talk to her throughout. Describe what is happening. Tell your baby what is about to come. Reassure your child. Once your baby is born, speak words of welcome.
Midwife Karen Strange urges parents to talk to newborns. She writes,
“Telling the story acknowledges what happened. Naming helps the nervous system to feel heard. When the baby feels heard, the nervous system settles. Naming is a basic tool for mindfulness. It is an acknowledgement of what is. The story must be told slowly, with pauses, eye contact and grounding. Then reflect back what you see from the baby. You could say something like: ‘I am sorry (empathy) for what may have happened, I know you felt that, it was not your fault and you did nothing wrong. I know that was a lot! You are safe now. Here, let me help you feel safe. I love you!’”(i)
“Before going into the operating room my husband, doula and I had several hours to prepare–we reviewed my birth vision, and saw how much of it had come to pass, though not at all in the way I had imagined. We spoke of our gratitude for each part of the process, for the moans as I labored through the Pitocin, for the slow wind of my hips as I leaned on the bed through each wave of contraction, and finally for the baby telling us that this was the safest and best way for him to come through. We talked out loud to him about how different things would be in the world outside my body and how long we had been waiting for him to come. We made our time sacred.” Elana
“After all I had been through to get pregnant, I always pictured melodramatically breaking down in tears and completely losing it when I finally got my baby. Instead I surprised myself by feeling completely calm and level-headed. “Hi,” I smiled at the little life rooting around on my chest. ‘I’m your mom. I’m the one who gets to take care of you. We are going to have so much fun. We will go to the park, play music, go to museums…’ At one point I broke out singing ‘You are my sunshine’ and after a verse my mother spontaneous joined in, in perfect harmony. After a few verses, my son Phoenix found my breast.” Athena
A Note For Partners
If you are joining your just-born child at the warmer, parent your child while she is there. The professionals will be assessing the baby, stimulating or suctioning if necessary, administering newborn procedures, etc., but this is your baby and your baby needs you. Consider what your baby has just experienced, going from the womb to a table in a chilly operating room. Your baby knows your voice, and your voice will be calming. Your touch will be soothing. Don’t be afraid to place a hand on your baby (as long as the pediatrician or nurse gives you the nod) and talk to your baby. Sing your baby a song that you sang her in utero. She will recognize it. You might explain to the baby what is happening, and why. Let her know how excited you are to meet. Reassure your baby that she will soon be with her mother (the only world she has known to this point).
(i) Karen Strange, “Simple Tools for Mothers” (n.d.), www.karenstrange.com