To whom it may concern,

I am writing to inform you about the recent occurrence of mistreatment I’ve encountered at this establishment. I hope that by alerting you via written correspondence, the appropriate authorities will get involved to remedy this dire situation.

11 months ago I joined this establishment to a lot of fanfare. My current position sat vacant for years before my tenure, and since I on-boarded last November I have been regularly told “you are a dream come true,” and “we are so happy to have you.” While this is flattering, I must note that almost immediately there were issues of inequality amongst my colleagues and me — issues I choose to ignore because I was new and still getting the lay of the land.

In the first few months of my new role, I had a lot of information to get up to speed on, including figuring how to roll over and acquiring a firm grasp on object permanence. Now, I have almost a year of experience completing my primary responsibilities — like sleeping, pooping, and communicating with individuals who are not fluent in my native tongue, and as I’m sure you’ve heard, all my performance reviews are glowingly positive.

I am constantly revered and told that I am “such a big girl” and “so big” and “a sweet, big girl” and yet every time I attempt to partake in certain activities alongside my older, male colleague I hear “that is not for you, Reesey,” or “that’s not for babies.” There you have my dilemma.

Is this truly an equal opportunity establishment or isn’t it? Is my colleague allowed to play with scissors because he’s truly more experienced or is it just because he’s older and a male? Am I a big girl or not?

I find it interesting that while my older colleague is allowed to do whatever he wants (including leaving early to “sleep,” while my commitment to my position includes routinely clocking in at 3 AM — take that as you will) every time I try to do something innovative I hear a litany of “nos.”

  • “No Reese, you can’t eat rocks.”
  • “No Reese, you can’t play in the toilet.”
  • “No Reese, Legos aren’t for babies.”
  • “No Reese, you can’t jump off the couch.”

I feel like I’m being unfairly stifled. Today I attempted a scientific experiment with yogurt drops and the dog’s water dish, and my research was callously wiped away before I even started recording my observations. I feel this is a gross injustice and I’m not convinced it isn’t based on age and gender discrimination. My colleague not only gets to feed the dog, but he also is allowed to drink from cups without lids. Where does it end?

I have attempted to deal with this on my own by being very vocal about my feelings. I routinely collapse onto the floor and cry whenever I am denied my right to play in the fridge or eat garbage. Every once in a while I am placated. Sometimes I get to slowly rip up drawings my colleague leaves on the floor. Once I ate a bug. But more and more I find I’m being denied even these limited opportunities. As I become more practiced in navigating the floorplan, doors are being closed and there is talk about gating the stairs. How can I be expected to shatter glass ceilings when I can’t even climb into the dishwasher?

This establishment is supposed to function with a growth mindset and I am disappointed to find it so lacking. At 12 months — a full year into my position — certain privileges must be granted or I will be forced to elevate these complaints. For one, anything my colleague is currently playing with should be mine, regardless of the so-called “age-appropriate” designations. I also want to eat his food (from his plate — this is important) after I throw mine on the floor where it belongs. It would please me to pull his hair at every opportunity, but I understand this might be a champagne dream. It goes without saying that I should be allowed full access to all company water features — toilets and water dishes and wet shower stalls included. I also request that I should be the sole person responsible for holding my mother’s phone. She is old. She probably doesn’t even know how to operate it correctly. I strongly believe it functions better when I can chew the upper left corner. I could present my findings on this theory if only I were allowed to put it into practice.

I expect to see a marked change in the management system immediately upon my first anniversary — if not sooner. I am prepared to take these concerns all the way up the chain. I am not afraid to go over your head to tell Grandma. I’m sure she would have some choice words about how her “best girl” is being treated.

Thank you for taking the time to address this issue.

“Employee of the Month” for 11 months and counting



“Is he sleeping through the night?” asks a stranger.

“She’s too clingy. You really need to stop picking her up.” says a friend.

“Is she a good baby?” asks a woman at the park.

“He should be self-soothing by now. Consolidated sleep is critical for healthy brain development.” proclaims a sleep trainer.

“You’re creating a rod for your own back.” exclaims a grandmother.

“I hope you’re putting her down drowsy but awake.” advises a mother at a meetup

“Feed, play sleep! Feed, play, sleep!” chants a daycare worker.

“You’re not nursing him to sleep are you? That’s a bad sleep association. How do you expect him to learn to fall asleep on his own?” questions a health nurse.

“Oh, he’s just manipulating you, dear. He’s got you wrapped around his tiny eight-week-old little finger.” says a mother-in-law.

“If you don’t put your three-day-old baby down to sleep in a crib on his own you’re risking suffocation and death. It is the only way babies are safe from SIDS.” states a pediatrician.

These are the loud lies of infant sleep that our culture repeats from one generation of new mothers to the next, as if on autopilot.

Without questioning the roots or validity of these statements.

Without an understanding of the biological needs of babies.

Without knowledge of what normal infant sleep looks like.

Without an appreciation for how most cultures around the world care for their babies (and why).

These mistruths are dangerous, not only because they’re false, but because they’re full of unrealistic expectations that set a new mother up to feel like she’s failing. To doubt her own abilities. To worry that there may be something wrong with her or her baby.

These mistruths when repeated often enough lead to fear, paranoia, worry, anxiety and guilt. This is the opposite of what new mothers need.

Because the truth is that no matter how many times we repeat these mantras, they’re still nonsense.

They’re still rooted in 19th-century ideals, created primarily by poorly informed, upper-class male physicians.

They’re still superstitious, unfounded and fear-based.

And while I appreciate that they may be said out of love for mothers, out of a deep desire to help or out of a concern for a family’s well-being, that doesn’t change the damaging impact these words can have on a new mother and infant dyad.

We need to recognise that to be invited into the presence of new parents and their baby is a great privilege, not a right. And with that privilege comes great responsibility. When the stakes are this high, it is simply not okay to repeat any of the mistruths above…even and especially if you heard these as a new mother yourself.

It is not okay to compromise the foundation of attachment a new mother is creating with her baby.

It is not okay to elevate society’s compulsion to conform above the needs of a new mother and baby.

It is not okay to pretend that cultural ideologies are fact.

The truth is that our western parenting culture got a little off track in the last hundred and fifty years. We no longer recognise the normal and healthy biological needs of children, day and night. We no longer recognise the importance of the fourth trimester and its ability to protect a new mother’s mental health. We no longer recognise how to help, in the way that mothers truly need.

And that’s okay. We can’t undo the past, but we can learn from it. And we can rewrite the future. We can be curious. We can learn. We can question.

We can find strategies to weave natural practices that allow both mothers and babies to thrive in our modern world. But, we can only do that if we silence the loud lies and allow the quiet truths of infant and toddler sleep to rumble.

So, what are the quiet truths of infant (and toddler) sleep?

That it is normal for babies to wake through the night, as often as every two hours for many, many months… and need their parents to help them fall back to sleep.

That it is normal for a child’s sleep to take five steps forward and three steps back and one step sideways and then turn inside out….sleep progress is anything but linear.


That it is normal for a baby to crave constant contact, to nap on her mother and to cry when she leaves the room to bring her back into proximity. This is not a sign that she is “spoilt”, this is a sign that she knows how to ensure her own survival.

That it is normal for toddlers to wake through the night and need mum or dad’s reassurance…to make them feel safe enough to surrender to sleep again.

That it is normal for babies to sleep like babies, and not like adults.

That it is normal for families to cosleep in the way they choose – bedsharing, room sharing, sidecar cot, musical beds – and it is normal for families to enjoy it…and not want to change a thing.

That it is normal for mothers to cry and to need help – that is NOT a sign she is failing or in need of a “solution”.

Because the truth is that human infants are the most immature, contact-dependent social mammal on the planet, which, by definition means that human mothers are among the most needed, hardworking and exhausted mothers on the planet.

So, she doesn’t need to be questioned or judged or to meet false standards of “success”. She’s doing her best just to get out of her pajamas by 3 pm. To have a shower every second day. Or to make and successfully drink a warm cup of tea.

She needs help, not judgment.

She doesn’t need you to have the answers or to ask for them, she needs you to BE her answer.

So, before you ask a new mother, “Is your baby sleeping through the night?” STOP.

Stop and ask yourself, what could you ask instead?

Perhaps…how are you coping?

Or…how can I help? Or even better…let me help you…I’ll make you a cup of tea. I’ll fold the washing. I’ll run you a bath. I’ll order takeout.

Resist using normal, interrupted infant and toddler sleep as a scapegoat. Instead, use it as a point of connection.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou

Because, in the years to come, a new mother won’t remember exactly what you said, but she will remember how you made her feel. So, make her feel cared for. Make her feel emotionally safe in your presence.

Make her feel like she is the best mother on the planet…because, to her child, she is.

Truely incredible article of how breastmilk morphs to suit the infants needs.

“When a baby suckles at its mother’s breast, a vacuum is created. Within that vacuum, the infant’s saliva is sucked back into the mother’s nipple, where receptors in her mammary gland read its signals. This “baby spit backwash,” as she delightfully describes it, contains information about the baby’s immune status. Everything scientists know about physiology indicates that baby spit backwash is one of the ways that breast milk adjusts its immunological composition. If the mammary gland receptors detect the presence of pathogens, they compel the mother’s body to produce antibodies to fight it, and those antibodies travel through breast milk back into the baby’s body, where they target the infection.”

For the record the technical term for “baby spit backwash” is “retrograde milk flow” (Geddes et al. 2008; Geddes 2009; Geddes et al. 2012; Ramsey et al. 2004).”

Geddes, Donna T., et al. “Tongue movement and intra-oral vacuum in breastfeeding infants.” Early human development 84.7 (2008): 471-477.

Geddes, Donna T., et al. “Tongue movement and intra-oral vacuum of term infants during breastfeeding and feeding from an experimental teat that released milk under vacuum only.” Early human development 88.6 (2012): 443-449.

Ramsay, D. T., Kent, J. C., Owens, R. A., & Hartmann, P. E. (2004). Ultrasound imaging of milk ejection in the breast of lactating women. Pediatrics, 113(2), 361-367.



Settling your baby at night
Many new parents find it hard to care for
a new baby during the night. There may be times when your baby is still unsettled after feeds. Skin-to-skin contact between you both can help to settle her. If you are breastfeeding, offering your baby your breast again can help too, even if she has just fed. If your baby cries for long periods, she may be unwell. Seek medical advice. If you are very tired it may
be safer to breastfeed lying down in bed than sitting upright on a chair or sofa.
Breastfeeding and sharing a bed with your baby
Based on quality scientific research, the public health organisation Red Nose includes ‘breastfeed baby’ as one of their six safe sleeping messages. Breastfeeding reduces
the risk of Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI). Many parents find it easier to breastfeed at night while sharing a bed
with their baby as they are able to respond more quickly to their baby’s needs. Mothers who share a bed with their baby tend to breastfeed for longer, both exclusively and
in total length. When sharing a bed with her baby, a breastfeeding mother tends to form
a protective ‘C’ shape around her baby. This position, which many mothers adopt by instinct, helps to keep baby at breast level and stops him from moving under covers or into any other bedding. When breastfeeding next to his mother, the baby will usually be lying on his side. When he is not feeding, he should be placed on his back to sleep. If you think you may fall asleep during the feed, make sure he has room to return to his back after the feed where his face will be clear of your breast and any bedding. It is very important to ensure he has a clear face and head in shared sleep spaces to protect his airway.
Sharing a bed with your baby
Red Nose recommends that babies sleep in their own safe sleeping space next to the parent bed for the first 6–12 months of life to help prevent infant deaths. However, it knows that many parents may choose to or have no option but to share a sleep surface with their baby. The evidence suggests that it is not bed-sharing alone that is dangerous, but other factors where bed-sharing occurs. Many parents find that bringing their baby into their bed helps them to care for her at night. Australian studies have found that 75–80% of babies spent at least some time sharing the parent bed in the first 6 months of life, whether parents had meant to bed- share, or not. It’s important to know how to make bed-sharing safer in case you happen to fall asleep with your baby. Adult beds were not designed with infant sleep safety in mind and may contain hazards for babies. There are also some cases where shared sleeping greatly raises the risk for babies and parents should avoid these.

It is not safe to share a bed with your baby:

If anyone sleeping in the bed is a smoker or
if the mother smoked during pregnancy.
If you have consumed any alcohol or taken
illegal drugs or medicines that make you sleepy. An Australian study found that alcohol or drug use was present in 70% of infant deaths involving a shared sleep surface with a baby.
If you are very tired, to a point where you would find it hard to respond to your baby.
In the early months, if your baby was born
very small or premature. If their airway becomes blocked, these babies are more likely to suffocate, as they are less able to respond by moving.
In addition:
• Do not sleep with your baby on a sofa,
waterbed, armchair, bean bag or other soft surface. Sofas are particularly dangerous and should be avoided.
Do not let your baby sleep in a bed, on a sofa, bean bag, car seat or pram if no one is watching her.
Never place a baby to sleep in a bed with other children or pets.
Make sure every person caring for your baby knows about safe sleep. Makeshift and improvised sleeping arrangements are often the most dangerous for babies and most
likely occur when parents are exhausted or
their baby is ill.
• If your baby is formula-fed, it is safer for
your baby to sleep in a cot in your room.
If sharing a bed with your baby:
• Sleep your baby on her back — never on her
tummy or side.
• If your baby lies on her side to breastfeed,
return her to her back to sleep. Do not place items around her that may stop her returning to the back-sleeping position.
• Make sure the mattress is firm and flat.
• Make sure that bedding cannot cover your
baby’s face.
• Sleep your baby beside one parent only,
rather than between two parents.
• Ensure your partner knows your baby is in
the bed.
• Instead of bedding, a well-fitting infant
sleeping bag may be used so that the baby
does not share the adult bedding.
• Do not wrap or swaddle a baby if sharing a
sleep surface.

To obtain copies contact:
Australian Breastfeeding Association
Tel: 03 9690 4620 (9 am–5 pm Monday – Friday) Email:
Level 3, Suite 2
150 Albert Road
South Melbourne VIC 3205
PO Box 33221
Melbourne VIC 3004
For further information contact:
Breastfeeding Information and Research
Tel: 03 9690 4620 (9 am–5 pm Monday – Friday) Email:
ABN: 64 005 081 523 RTO: 21659
ABA would like to acknowledge Dr Pete Blair BSc(Hons) MSc(Leic) PhD(Bristol), Jeanine Young BSc(Hons) PhD, and the Baby Sleep Information Source (BASIS) ( for their contribution to making this leaflet.

The National Breastfeeding Helpline is supported by funding from the Australian Government.
© Australian Breastfeeding Association March 2019

WEB Bed-sharing and your baby the facts MAR 2019

Getting a Good Night’s Sleep: Another Perspective

@ Dr Sarah J. Buckley 2005, revised 2016
Previously published in Playtimes, the magazine of the Playgroup Association of Queensland, May 2002, also published in Natural Parenting (Australia) no 2, autumn 2003 

For more in-depth information on co-sleeping see Chapter 13 “Mothers, Babies and the Science of Sharing Sleep” in Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering: A Doctor’s Guide to Natural Childbirth and Gentle Early Parenting Choices (Sarah J Buckley, Celestial Arts, 2009). 

As a GP [family physician], writer and mother of four, I have concerns about information that parents are being given about young children and sleep. This includes official advice to families from Queensland Health  in “How Does Your Child Sleep?”(Playtimes, Oct 2001) and in books such as Richard Ferber’s Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems.

Ferber’s controversial methods (“Ferberizing,”) include leaving children alone to cry for increasing periods (so-called “controlled crying” or “crying it out”.) These sources suggest that the best solution is to shut crying children in their bedrooms for prolonged periods so that they “learn to go to sleep alone”.

Advising parents to ignore the cries of a distressed child, for however long, may be counterproductive to developing the loving and trusting parent-child relationship that will endure over time. I wonder how many of us would want our partners or friends to treat us this way if we were alone at night, and feeling upset and frightened?

But it is not only the potential impact of these methods on parent-child relationships that concerns me. Scientific and anthropological research recognises that our babies need constant care and attention because of their extreme immaturity. Unlike other mammals, they cannot keep themselves warm, move about or feed themselves until relatively late in life, which makes dedicated maternal care crucial to our offspring’s survival (McKenna 1996). Therefore, our children have developed behaviours and expectations, to ensure that they get the care and protection that they need in infancy and beyond.

For example, for a baby the safest place is in the mother’s arms—and this is still true today in many parts of the world. This applies equally at night, when sleeping right next to the mother, also called bed-sharing, gives the baby protection, temperature regulation, emotional reassurance and breast milk. It’s a perfect system, and what babies have become hard-wired to expect, over millions of years of human evolution.

For our ancestors in the wild, carrying infants kept them safe from hazards and predators, and attending quickly to infant cries kept everyone safe from the attention of predators. Similarly, sleeping with babies was critical to ensure that the baby would survive to the morning.

This system of care–sometimes called “proximity seeking”–generates significant parental rewards and efficiencies. Bed-sharing gives us less disturbed sleep because mother and baby both get into the same cycles, and our babies will wake to feed when we are both in light sleep. We can do more breastfeeding for less effort and therefore maximise the contraceptive effect.

We will also benefit from the extra doses of two breastfeeding hormones. Oxytocin, the hormone of love, is stimulated by both breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact, and keeps mother and baby soft and loving with each other. Endorphins are the hormones of pleasure, making mother and baby relaxed and sleepy—just right for night feeding. No wonder bed-sharing mothers and babies wake up with a smile. Worldwide research confirms the safety of bed-sharing, as long as parents are not smokers, very overweight, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and attention is given to avoiding the hazards that go with our soft Western bedding.

Bed-sharing, where adults and children share the same surface, is one form of co-sleeping, which is a wider term that includes children sleeping in the same room in variety of configurations. Infant sleep researcher James McKenna defines co-sleeping, which includes sleeping in the same room. as mother and infant being within range of two senses, eg hearing and sight.

The combination of breastfeeding with bed-sharing, also known as”breastsleeping,” (McKenna 2015) has a specific repertoire of behaviours that may be particularly adaptive–and safe–for mothers and babies. Breastsleeping babies are usually protected from common bedding hazards by the mother’s position, and babies are more likely to sleep facing the mother than on their stomachs, which may also be protective against Sudden Unexplained Death in Infancy (SUDI).

Experts in SUDI and bed-sharing note, “For mothers who breastfeed, do not smoke or drink alcohol, and do not use recreational drugs the evidence of an increased risk from bedsharing is very limited.” (Fleming 2015) Breastleeping mothers and babies are more likely to breastfeed for longer (likely because of the ease of nighttime feeding),  which offers further protection against SUDI.

Standard advice around infant sleep is based on a cultural belief that children will not become independent unless we force them. Research suggests that the opposite may be true. According to one expert, “Research… confirms that indulgence of early dependency needs leads to independence” and “A mother’s reliability and receptivity promote trust and emotional stability in her child” (Klein 1995). In other words, when we treat our children with love and respect for their needs, we can plant the seeds for a lifetime of happiness—and relaxed sleep.

For me, the benefits of bed-sharing do not end with babyhood. My older children have been equally sweet and cuddly at night, and sharing sleep into the pre-school years has its own rewards. For example, sleep becomes a time to share intimacy and loving feelings, especially when the day has been gruelling or conflict has arisen. For me, there is nothing as sweet as lying next to my child as he or she drops into dreams (and often we do this at the same time). Our family has avoided the bedtime battles or night terrors that are considered normal in our culture—and remember that our culture is out of step, in global and historical terms, in not sharing sleep between family members.

Every co-sleeping family that I have met has their own unique arrangement that can change and adapt over time. At the time of writing, our middle two children were sleeping together in a double bed, and our eldest Emma, 10, had graduated, in her own time, to her own bed. We continued to lie down to settle Zoe, 8, although she says she can put herself to sleep now. Jacob, 5, often joined us in the wee hours. We have had a king-sized bed that we turned around to make it 6’6” wide and 6’ long—a real family bed for many years.

These three older children are very confident and sociable, and have no problems with different routines when they sleep over with their friends. Why would they, when sleep has always been easy and pleasurable for them?

My youngest, Maia, who is 15 months as I write this, continues to fall asleep most nights with Mother Nature’s best toddy—breast milk.

Since my first baby, I have gained more confidence and experience with co-sleeping, and honestly, some of the things that are said to discourage co-sleeping strike me as crazy. For example, I have read in many places, including in the earlier mentioned article, that if we cuddle or nurse our baby to sleep, they may awaken later and “…may not be able to go back to sleep because their environment has changed.” As an adult waking up, I don’t remember how I got to sleep. It seems to me that our babies simply want to be held and nursed to sleep because it is pleasurable, biologically adaptive, and it works.

A family bed might not suit everyone, but we can consider that co-sleeping is what we as humans have evolved to do with our young, and it is what our babies and small children expect. When we ask our children to sleep alone all night, we are stretching their biological capabilities and there is a good chance they will protest.If this happens, we can choose to take their feedback seriously and work to find loving, gentle and co-operative solutions.

There are many different possibilities, and families can choose what works for them and their children.

For example, some families have invited an older child back into their bedroom and found that a “dose” of co-sleeping, or even sleeping on the floor (in what Emma calls a “nest”) is all that is needed, especially during stressful transitions.

In many families, as in ours, one parent lies down with a child or children until they fall asleep, giving reassurance at the time when it is most needed. Sitting quietly or meditating also work well at this time, and I am less likely to fall asleep myself.

When one of our children wake in the dark hours, we have often gone into the child’s bed—double beds work best for obvious reasons—and fallen asleep until morning. Currently, this is my partner Nicholas’s specialty, and it is very sweet to find him relaxed and tangled up beside the children in the morning

When a child is sick or needs extra care, having him or her in our bed, only an arm’s length away, feels good. Needing an extra dose of Mama or Daddy is a good enough reason most of the time, and I notice that sleeping together promotes harmony in a subtle and beautiful way.

As parents, we are in it for the long haul. “Ferberizing,” “controlled crying,” and “crying it out” are short-term solutions that may not promote the connectedness and trust that we want for our children and families in the longer-term.

Our children will outgrow their dependency needs—including the need for company at sleep time—in their own time.  Providing love, reassurance and guidance when it is most needed will help to maximise growth and happiness in the short and long terms.

As one !Kung mother from the African desert responded upon hearing that Dr. Spock advocated ignoring our children’s cries, “Doesn’t he understand that he’s only a baby and that’s why he cries? You pick him up and comfort him. When he’s older, he will have sense and he won’t cry any more.”


Dolton, Irene. How Does Your Child Sleep? Endorsed by Queensland Health.Playtimes Oct 2001

Fleming P, Pease A, Blair P. Bed-sharing and unexpected infant deaths: what is the relationship?  Paediatric Respiratory Reviews 16 (2015) 62–67

Klein, Paul. (Spring 1995). “The needs of children.” Mothering magazine (U.S.) (74): 39-45.

McKenna JT,  Gettler LT. There is no such thing as infant sleep, there is no such thing as breastfeeding, there is only breastsleeping Acta Pediatrica 2015

McKenna, James. (1996). “Babies need their mothers beside them.” World Health, the Journal of the World Health Organization (March-April).

Konner, Melanie. (1991). Childhood. Boston: Little Brown & Co.

Recommended Reading:

Our Babies, Ourselves – How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent (Doubleday 1998) by Meredith E. Small

Night Time Parenting (La Leche League Intl. 1999) by William Sears

Sleeping with your Baby (2007) by James McKenna

The Postpartum !! What about MUM

In the hustle of the room I peered over at my friend bent over in pain. Baby had just been born and everyone was surrounding the miracle that happened before our eyes and naturally everyone was in awe of him. But I was especially in awe of her. I saw you, mama. I saw the pain in your eyes and in your face and in your body. Because this is now a new season called postpartum. We tend to forget our mamas when babies are around. We ask how baby is, what does baby need, can we hold the baby, can we buy this for the baby but… what about mama? Let us not forget the hard work she endured to carry this child AND the hard road ahead to mother and heal and feed and rest and parent her other children also. What do mamas really need? Meals dropped off, someone to watch baby so they can shower, solid child care for her other children, house cleaners to stop by and help out. Heating pads and coffee and comfy PJs. Maybe fast food. Or a friend to fold laundry. Maybe a new movie to watch or your Netflix login. Let’s not forget the mamas. It’s just so easy to because women are incredibly strong and seem to have it all together but they need the support and the extra hands more than ever entering into that fourth trimester.

Alex Michelle and Tammy Wright


Are you curious about Waterbirth. A recent Aus study has found women who gave birth in water were more likely to experience shorter first and second stages of labour.

However a common question about waterbirth is, “What keeps the baby from breathing under water?”

Here are some great words from @waterbirthint website.

“There are four main factors that prevent the baby from inhaling water at the time of birth:

1. The foetus moves the muscles of the chest wall during pregnancy about 40% of the time. Close to the time of labor, the Prostaglandin E2 levels from the placenta rise, which cause a slowing down or stopping of those foetal breathing movements. As the baby is born, the Prostaglandin levels remain high, disabling the baby’s muscles for breathing. The muscles simply don’t work, thus engaging the first inhibitory response.

2. All babies are born experiencing mild hypoxia or low oxygen levels. Hypoxia causes apnea (absence of breathing) and swallowing, not breathing or gasping. The first reflex after a baby is born is to swallow, not breath. The swallowing will allow the fluids that are in the mouth to enter to stomach.

3. Foetal lungs are already filled with fluid. That fluid is there to protect the lungs, and keep the spaces open that will eventually exchange carbon dioxide and oxygen. It is very difficult, if not improbable, for fluids from the birth tub to pass into those spaces that are already filled with fluid. One physiologist states that “the viscosity of the fluid naturally occurring in the lungs is so thick that it would be nearly impossible for any other fluids to enter.” The blood supply to the lungs is also very low during pregnancy and birth. This causes a high pressure within the lungs, thus keeping everything out.

4. The mammalian diving reflex is an inhibitory factor that is present at birth in all humans as well as all mammals. It lasts in humans up to six to eight months. When the face comes into contact with water, the glottis at the back of the throat automatically closes and prevents water from entering the lungs. Any solution that enters the throat is swallowed, not inhaled.

On Pain

Suraj Khalsa, Kundalim wrote some very wise words about pain. Can you get to know your pain instead of running away from it. Pain and pleasure they are two polarities and they move in and out. When one is present the other is waiting. She acknowledged that if you feel pain and you can feel it in your body , feel where it is, feel that sensation and at the same time feel the space around it and if you feel both these states, you will feel the pain dissolve into the space. Jon Foreman said the Cure for the pain is the pain – I am not afraid to describe pain – but when you change the way you view pain so will your pain change.

A little more on the benefits of massage

Studies have shown a greater weight gain for infants who receive massage from their caregivers. Massaging the baby’s whole body stimulates the nervous system, and includes stimulating the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is known as  “the wander”, as it winds through the body and reaches many of our organs. It is responsible for calming and this in turn stimulates gastric mobility which helps weight gain. Massage also helps to boost baby’s immune system by creating a “rest and digest ” effect through the stimulation of their parasympathetic nervous system. So keep massaging, enjoying not only the emotional effect but knowing the health benefits for your little bundle. For questions and guidance please contact Labour with Love and leave a message for Veronica Hedgeous. Professional baby massage instructor