The beginning of a lifetime – the first 24 hours

The birth of a baby is a landmark event in life. For mom it is an exhausting process and emotional moment, regardless of how your baby arrives. For your baby it marks a gigantic shift from the calm world of the womb to the bright, sensory-laden, busy world we know.

In the first hour after birth, your baby will have a period of calm alert awareness. Bring him to a distance of 20 cm from your face and make eye contact. This is a wonderful way to bond and most babies will contentedly stare at their parent’s eyes for ages in that first hour of life.

Latch your baby as soon as possible after birth. Preferably within ten minutes. Not only does this connect your baby with the familiarity of being close to you but it is also a great start for breastfeeding.

Leaving the comfort of the womb, babies crave skin-to-skin touch. Once your baby has started to drift off to sleep after the initial period of calm-alert, place him naked (with only a nappy on) against your naked chest and place a cotton blanket over you both.

In all interactions in the first day of your baby’s life, consider his experiences in the womb-world – close contact, feeding on demand, muted light and sounds. Keep your baby’s first encounters with our busy world as calm as possible.

Finally, while all this advice is the ideal for babies, sometimes things just don’t work out as we plan. If you have had a traumatic birth or are separated from your baby for health reasons or simply are too tired and emotional to be available to him, you may worry about whether you will bond and guilt may creep in. Remember that your relationship with your little one is not defined by the birth and 24 hours after birth but by a lifetime of interactions.

Top tips

  • Do not wash your baby in the first 24 hours – the waxy coating called vernix smells like the womb and is soothing for your baby
  • Room in with your baby – have your baby sleep the first night in your room
  • To create a calm transition for your baby, imitate the soothing sensory space of the womb world by keeping visual stimulation limited, using white noise for sleep times and by swaddling your little one – similar to the tight hug of the uterus

Learn more about easing your babys transition from WOMB TO WORLD.