The Kangaroula applies the neuroscience into practical care
NINO strives to improve the birth experience for the mother, but even more specifically for the baby, focussing on the brain of the baby.
In skin-to-skin contact, the mother’s body helps the baby to regulate physically but also emotionally. Social intelligence begins in this first hour
The baby’s brain is expecting familiar sensations of mum’s heartbeat and voice, her smell, and touch. The baby is in the right place to smell and taste breastmilk and start breastfeeding. He collects sensations buffered by mothers presence and can sleep peacefully which is when his brain-wiring is taking place.
Two extreme pictures
Picture a mother’s body giving birth normally and naturally in her chosen environment. For the baby this is what he is expecting, and mum and baby’s hormones coordinate to make this happen peacefully. Mum’s oxytocin opens the birth canal, and the pressure of the baby’s head on the birth canal as mum is standing releases even more oxytocin. If a mum can be up and mobile and peacefully supported, the labour can progress well. Her baby is born in nature’s gentle time. The baby is put straight onto mother’s warm chest in skin-to-skin contact. Mum’s familiar heart beat and voice and scent calm him, and he can stabilise physically. He is close mum, can start to breasted and sleep. His brain wires all the sensations peacefully, this baby is in his SAFE PLACE.
A second picture: Another mother is in a hospital, which feels strange and scary for her. She is likely to be given an induction of synthetic oxytocin to start or speed up labour, maybe even before her baby is really due, this fast-forwards the mother’s body into very strong and painful contractions. Mum may need an epidural to cope with this pain. She then cannot move her legs and walk, and so must lie on the bed; this slows labour. Monitoring is started: as the weight of the baby in the uterus compresses her aorta, the baby’s blood and air supply may be compromised, fetal distress can be caused and is detected! The baby may need a vacuum or forceps to help him be born, or even a Caesarean. The baby is born into a brightly, busy and noisy hospital room with loud voices and strange smells of disinfectant. What a shock from the warm, dark womb. The baby is often stressed by the medication and is taken from mum to a nursery. Worst of all he is separated from mum – his safe place. This mum and baby have not had a good start to their bonding. They will likely have problems with early breastfeeding.
Which birth would you chose?
These are two extreme pictures. Of course we should not be naïve about the complications that can arise in child birth. Medical interventions are life-saving when needed, but when they are unnecessary they are unexpected and dysregulate the newborn baby.