Are naturally-born babies more calm?

I’ve really started to pay attention to how babies act in the days, weeks, and months after they are born. I’m starting to really buy into the idea that naturally-born babies tend to be more calm, more confident, and sleep better than babies who experience traumatic births.

Fact. My daughter didn’t sleep well and was difficult to calm as a young baby.

Fact. My student’s wife just had their first baby at home. Calm. Chill. That’s how this baby is described.

Fact. My best girlfriend here in town just had her third baby at a birth center. Calm. Chill. I’ve seen first-hand how calm and secure this little guy is. He’s only 2 days old and he clearly recognizes his mother’s voice. They were only at the birth center for a few hours following the birth. And my friend is SO IN LOVE with him.

Now, I’m not trying to suggest that ALL homebirthed babies or all babies born at birth centers are calm and quiet, and ALL hospital-born babies are difficult, but as I’ve learned from Diane Wiessinger, the birth environment and the birthing act/ritual have a tremendous impact on the mother-baby dyad.

Dr. Sarah J. Buckley, MD writes: “The connections between events at birth and long-term health certainly deserve more study.1 But we cannot afford to wait for years for researchers to prove the benefits of an undisturbed birth. Perhaps the best we can do is trust our instincts and vote with our birthing bodies, choosing models of care that increase our chances of undisturbed- and ecstatic- birthing.”

The three examples that I made above – my child, my friend’s child, and my student’s child – are not the only ones that I can think of that strengthen my belief that how a baby is brought into the world is critical to his/her health, happiness, and development. Talk to everyone you know who has had a baby and find out what their early experiences with their children were like. I’m certain you will observe patterns in what you hear and see.

1. Odent M. Primal Health Database: Birthworks, 2003 http://www.birthworks.org/primalhealth/.

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9 responses to “Are naturally-born babies more calm?

  1. I wonder too at this, but both my babies prove nothing!

    I’ve had both my babies by c/s (unfortunately!). My first was a failed induction and he was an “easy” baby. He rarely cried and slept really well. My second was a home-birth turned transfer/required c/s and she is even more “easy” than he was. I think part of it is I’m nursing this time, and part of it is that I labored on my own this time and she had much less interventions than he did.

    So all that to say, I can see a difference between my two babies even though they were/are both calm, and good sleepers.

    I think nursing is really a very important factor, ESPECIALLY after a traumatic birth, for both mom and baby. I had a really hard time bonding with my first, I had a hard time at first with this one, but nursing has really helped me to feel closer to her than I ever did with my son. I had a really hard time nursing my son. I didn’t get the help I needed and ended up giving up. Maybe he would have been calmer if I had persevered?

    Anyways…there’s my two cents, take it or leave it. =)

  2. I absolutely think that a calm, peaceful birth is a big help in making for a calmer infant…
    Check out Anna Verwaal…I just attended a workshop on conscious conception, pregnancy & birth…(she also covers the work of Odent & Buckley in terms of hormonal blueprint).

  3. I’ve heard this many times. I do think that a good birth can help matters (my c/s baby had her first nightmare at about 9 hours old) but it isn’t the be-all, end-all. My first, my c/s baby, never slept and was very fussy. She had night mares, night terrors, you name it. But we bonded almost instantly, and she was “fussy” in the womb, long before her birth would have had an effect. (I couldn’t go to the movies because the noise would make her kick like crazy, I had to sing when I vacuumed because it scared her, etc.) My VBAC baby, a hospital birth, but still a good birth, slept well, at least comparatively, and is way more laid back. But again, she was like that in the womb too. Nothing bothered her, and she rarely moved much more than the occasional crossing and recrossing of her ankles. She’s almost two now, so she’s starting to show some of that two year old spirit, but she is still way more easy going than my first. They are very, very different, but most of that seems to just be them, rather than birth method.

  4. Well, my baby was a difficult delivery, long labour, mid cavity forceps (but long labour went well for most part), just about avoided a c-section. She was very difficult to calm and is still a handful, very active and with very short attention span. Have you read Sheila Kitzinger, understanding your crying baby (not 100% sure of title) – her theory is that both birth but also other factors such as difficulties bonding impact on the amount a baby cries and difficulties to soothe for parents. Of course personality of baby may be one of these. It’s a great book and the author is actually working on parent support for those who struggle in the first months. Reading the book was cathartic for me and my baby’s crying got miles better when I read it – coincidentally or not. Sheila Kitzinger is of course a natural birth advocate as well, but now focuses on the impact of birth on baby and mum.

  5. Pingback: * Check this out… « Bijou Girl

  6. Hmm, I came across this site message thread as I was wondering exactly the same thing. I had my first vaginally and although it wasn’t an unmedicated birth, he was a very calm baby, good sleeper etc and is a very happy toddler who sleeps and naps perfectly.
    My second on the other hand was breech (and low birth weight – only 4 pounds 14 ounces full term) and delivered by c-section is a totally different baby. I realise that they are different people – but I do wonder if it has anything to do with having different deliveries.
    Gus (my second) is not a good sleeper at all, much more fussy, clingy, just generally less sure of himself, noises bother him – he’s just touch all round (but I love him all the same without question!) I’d be interested in finding out more on the subject.
    On the other hand, I fought tooth and nail not to have a csection (but it was probably the best thing due to his size) – so I couldn’t have changed it!

  7. Pingback: * Check this out… « Whimsical Bird

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