Birth Trauma

Whatever the method of delivery employed, many experts believe that the baby always experiences some degree of trauma.

From the safety and carefully-controlled environment of the womb the baby is forced into the harsh realities of the outside world, and it is hardly surprising that shock might be a concomitant of the baby’s new independent status. Indeed, some writers on birthing techniques have gone so far as to blame a host of subsequent physical and mental disorders on the traumatic experience of birth. They argue that in the usual hospital delivery, in which the mother is surrounded by intimidating medical equipment and virtual strangers, she releases stress hormones that effect the unborn child when it is itself undergoing considerable stress. The combined effect may damage the child’s immune system and leave it open to personality disorders such as depression or alcoholism. Although such conclusion may be a bit extreme, there is nonetheless a growing awareness of the need to make childbirth as little traumatic as possible for both mother and child.

To this end, many obstetricians advocate that lights should be dim in the delivery room, to shield the baby’s eyes, and voices hushed. Some mothers are even given the option of having soothing music playing in the background. In addition, some hospitals immediately place the baby on the mother’s stomach before the umbilical cord has been cut.