24 Mar 2017

New mothers also go through 9 stages of attachment

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In 2011, Dr. Ann Marie Widstrom published an article entitled ” Newborn behaviour to locate the breast when skin-to-skin: a possible method for enabling early self-regulation.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20712833

After decades of observing newborns after birth, Dr. Widstrom noticed a pattern of 9 stages of behavior that a newborn goes through between the birth cry and sleep:  this process is beneficial to the newborn. “It is hypothesized that when the infant is given the option to peacefully go through the nine behavioural phases (birth cry, relaxation, awakening, activity, crawling, resting, familiarization, suckling and sleeping) when skin-to-skin with its mother, this results in early optimal self-regulation.”

Her important research brought awareness of the newborn’s abilities to everyone’s attention; now, most obstetrical health workers know that babies have the ability to crawl to the breast and self-attach.

But what about the new mother? What are her behaviors when her new healthy term baby is placed on her chest. Is it possible that she would go through 9 behaviors between birth and sleep in parallel with her baby?

I’ve attended enough births and seen enough films to feel that this might be how the 9 stages would look, in the normal healthy situation, where labor is spontaneous and unmedicated, and baby is term.

MOTHER WELCOMES                                                    BABY ATTACHES:

“Whew”                                                                             Birth Cry

Gathers in                                                                        Relaxation

Cuddles                                                                           Awakening

Calms                                                                              Activity

Encourages                                                                     Crawling

Praises                                                                            Rest

Reassures                                                                      Familiarization

Milk flows                                                                        Suckling

Sleep                                                                              Sleep

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