Goshen News, Goshen, IN


October 14, 2012

WHOLE FAMILY: A mother’s touch is the most important thing

Of all practices that trouble me about the typical medical approaches to birthing, the one that tugs at my heart like no other is seeing a baby lying alone on a warmer.

Immediately following being squeezed (ideally), pulled (less ideal) or excised (less ideal still) from his warm and watery home, a wee one should be resting softly on his mother, soaking in her scent and floating on words meant only for him. He shouldn’t be, in most cases, on a warmer away from her.

Not every birth is so perfect, I understand for sure — my own first baby spent some time on a warmer  in a NICU — but when a birth can be so perfect, it should be.

I’m happy two of our local hospitals realized more births can be better and are or are in the process of becoming “Baby Friendly,” a UNICEF/World Health Organization designation given to facilities that undergo rigorous steps to promote and encourage breastfeeding. (That’s IU Goshen Health and South Bend Memorial Hospital, respectively.)

Part of the Baby Friendly work means leaving babies on mothers — or dads when necessary — rather than on warmers. Thank goodness, because there are at least three reasons babies on moms after births is super great: One, babies love it, of course, and are more likely to stay warm and to nurse sooner and better than if elsewhere. Two, Stephanie Price is a lot less edgy when a baby’s on mom’s chest and not on the warmer. (Because, after all, Stephanie Price’s feeling are so important to the world running properly. Eye roll.)

And three, mother is, usually, much more content and healthy when her baby’s with her.

Ever seen a mother whose baby is on the warmer or being passed around to well-meaning staff or family rather than in her own arms? If you get a chance to see it — though I really hope you do not — watch mom’s eyes. I’ve seen a mother’s soul virtually reach across the room to that warmer, willing the baby to get back to her — and soon.

Two hours after a cesarean section, nurses had to chase a mother I know down the hallway. She was on foot — two hours’ after major abdominal surgery! — anxious to get to her baby. Such an amazing and powerful instinct it is — to touch our babies.

And there’s my segue.

Mothers, particularly, want to — need to — touch their babies. It’s an instinct that compels us to hold our big bellies before birth and snarl at staff who take our babies after.

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Last weekend (July 12) the Goshen Parks Department held its Kid’s Try-athlon to promote childhood fitness and this week (July 18) the new bicycle trail is open to the fairgrounds in Goshen, offering residents a healthy way to get to the annual agriculture exposition. Have you joined the local fitness movement?

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