#152 | The Impact of Birth Stress on Infant Development with Ontrack Baby

March 16, 2022

Today's discussion with sisters Jenny & Carrie, the pediatric occupational therapists behind Ontrack baby and the NOEL method, is a fascinating exploration of how the way we give birth impacts infant development. In particular, when the baby does not experience the "vaginal squeeze" the infant Moro or "startle" reflex may become over-reactive, leading to more fussy babies and slower development.  Jenny & Carrie explain how vaginal birth can help infant development and answer the important question of how to best support babies born via cesarean section or have a high stress, high-intervention birth. They share the number one thing we can do to help our babies development and give us their take on swaddling, SIDS, and stomach sleeping for infants. 

Ontrack Baby

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View Episode Transcript

The baby aisle and target or wherever you shop does not have, you know, milestone development in mind. They're just you know, an essentially they're there to sell you a product,

there's so much fear that putting a baby to sleep on their stomach, a baby won't be able to lift up their head and turn it from side to side. But the second you put a brand new baby on a mother's chest, they literally can lift their head up and find the nipple and latch on. So they all they all know how to do

it. There's no achievement that occurs on the back. And the longer we leave our babies laying on their back the you know, in nature alone, that's a death threat in itself. No, ma'am. I'll leave their baby on their bag. Don't recommend pacifiers. We don't recommend swaddles. We don't recommend infant swings. mumbos

How are they going to listen and think I missed my whole window. Now my baby is way past that period. Is it irreparable? Also, that's the other question, is it irreparable? And is it ever too late?

I'm Cynthia Overgard, owner of HypnoBirthing of Connecticut, childbirth advocate and postpartum support specialist. And I'm Trisha Ludwig, certified nurse midwife and international board certified lactation consultant. And this is the Down To Birth Podcast. Childbirth is something we're made to do. But how do we have our safest and most satisfying experience in today's medical culture? Let's dispel the myths and get down to birth.

Hi, I'm Carrie, and I'm here with my sister Jenny. And we are so excited to be here today, we are both pediatric occupational therapist, we hold master's degrees and we own a private pediatric clinic down in the south of Arkansas. And we have been serving families for seven years. And then basically everything changed when we became moms ourselves. And we began to share empowering information about what we learned along the way to help moms understand milestone development, and coupled with the paediatric lens of becoming moms ourselves, and then seeing what we treat in our own clinic, we developed our own method. And that's probably where you may have heard of us at on track baby, I'll let Jenny kind of go into that.

Yeah, so this is the voice of Jenny, the other sister of on track baby. And it's been a wild ride for sure. So we started out in a very traditional mindset, which is our Occupational Therapy lens, and been transformed, you know, by motherhood, but specifically through the birth process that we've experienced ourselves. That's just been, you know, one of those things that until you live it, you really can't know and maybe that's part of the sacredness of life, it's it's just such a specific journey that we enter into. And what we really found along our path is that we have a specific connection between the birth that we experience and the first year of life that follows and this interconnection between our nervous system, and the process, the physical process of being born, but then also what it's like, on the other side of being born, which either sets you up to just effortlessly meet milestones in the first year, or can be a bit of a bumpy road, if you will, which we know many people align with, specifically because of the number of interventions that introduce stress.

So today, we're just gonna talk a little bit about one of our most favorite topics, which is how the birth process does affect development. And you know, we won't just pick on one specific birth, we have some examples, but basically, any and every birth has an impact on how your baby develops, whether we realize it or not. So realizing it, and becoming just aware and informed. Just even going into your birth is just so empowering, especially in for that postpartum life. You know,

so you guys experienced this, you obviously see this in your own clinical practice, but you each experience this in your own birth process, because you each came into birth having it sounds like more interventive birth intervention, heavy burst the first time around, and then subsequently, second babies going for a different kind of birth process of VBAC and a home birth. And you noticed in your babies, that there were different there were differences in their development, differences in meeting their milestones. And then so you sort of went deep into this process of investigating how pregnancy and the birth can affect our baby's nervous system and how that impacts their development for milestones and probably temperament a little bit too early now. Perfect. In terms of scientific data, we had the most upfront information about how a human nervous Stem develops being a mother in the physical 24 hour sense of it that you never get under the professional lens. Because you're working with a client for an hour at a time. It was transformative in the sense that after we experienced specific types of birth, we actually got to watch the subject. You know, before our eyes, obviously, it was less clinical. But that's really you know, it's the age old argument of is it nature versus nurture. And what nature presents their birth is something that nurture counteracts after birth. As Cynthia, you're familiar with the perinatal mood disorder, and even just getting down to the layers of oxytocin versus dopamine, and physical touch and separation and trendy baby products like sleep training and swaddles. Now, this is kind of just a quick rundown of what the physical experience a baby has, during the birthing process, which you'll see on the other side, as we go through this, but the birth canal, the squeeze, we know that it's going to press the baby from head to toe, ideally, unless you're toe to head. We know that that pressure activates a series of reflexes in a baby that automate how they put together their neuro motor maturity. So what we see them do immediately following birth. So the breast crawl to latch would be immediately activated by that birth canal pressure, you know, obviously a dramatic decrease in any type of lung involvement or breathing issue because the squeeze presses the, you know, the fluid out of the lungs. But more importantly, what we do know is that the Moro reflex when the baby comes out and experiences this change from water to gravity, it elicits the startle, which actually, you know, involves the diaphragm and creates the first breath.

Can I jump in for a second? Sure. Let's explain what the Moro reflex is because its arms flail, and it reacts like it's falling. So that's the moral reflex. Right? Can you just explain that from a professional standpoint?

Yeah, great question.

So the Moro reflex, which is known as the startle reflex, it actually will initiate labor natural, it initiates labor, when the baby startles in the womb. That's the first reflex that will begin the whole process and starts to kick off all those natural sensations. So that I mean, it's super, super critical, super important. But then when you come, you know, earthside, you can gravity base, it essentially is the fight or flight response that helps a baby understand their entire world. They were cushion, things were muted, it was soft and warm. And mom, now everything's loud. voices are not muted, it's cold temperatures. So what the Moro reflex does is it's Star Wars, because, you know, babies scared, and then the movements are come out and then come in to clean define towards mom, which is you see the arms and legs go out and that big startle response, and then the whole movement is that they will come back and across close to their body. And usually it's followed by a cry. And so what happens is, depending on just how stressed you know, either the baby was during birth or after birth, because you know, usually, what we see now is that, you know, there's not a lot of postpartum maternal support sometimes. And so you just go home with this baby that's, you know, struggling and crying, and then they're like, what's going on? How do I get it to stop without truly understanding that all it is, is setting up the nervous system to understand, hey, I have to get used to loud noises. I find my mom hear voices. And the more the baby startles, the more they get used to their world around them, and then it begins to fade. Were you were you saying
back to the birth canal in the squeeze? that babies who don't have a vaginal birth are less likely to have that Moro reflex and not less likely to have it there? No, there there Moro reflex is more sensitive, overreact, it's overactive. Yes, from the beginning. So it is it keeps baby in fight or flight. And depending on if they were, you know, truly calm down in that way, or just kind of like misunderstood from the beginning. Because you know, mom's kind of don't know what to do with that. You know, you can just stay in that state of heightened sensitivity, you know, and part of what part of what Jenny's gonna talk about is some of the baby products that do prolong that, that people just don't realize.

So there's something in the process of squeezing through the birth canal that softens and lessens the effect of the Moro reflex. But we're supposed to have that reflex. Yeah, but it can't go into overdrive. So then if we have a mom listening, who's had a C section, and she's wondering, oh, gosh, well, my baby does that they all do that. What What can she do about that, that can make her feel that she can compensate for the fact that it was a C section? How can she address that right off the bat now that we're discussing?

Yeah. And that's that's an important topic because of the prevalence of the C section. So once we know what the ideal biological birth is in terms of setting up your baby to kind of effortlessly develop, then we can look at what are the alternative births that are occurring. And then what do we see as a result of an alternative birth. And I will actually go further than just the C section baby because there's specific things associated with each intervention that is helpful to understand when you're looking at your baby. And then we'll circle back to some things to counteract it too. So Karis first baby was a breech C section. And that in and of itself, is going to have a baby be less body aware. So we know that that tight squeeze is going to deeply activate our proprioceptive system, which is our body awareness in our joints and our ability to just be a coordinated mover through life a little bit just like out of sorts. As a baby, you might be extremely colicky, generally overwhelmed, easily overtired, you can develop into a picky eater, you can be resistant to bathing, you can be a funny kid dress, like they just don't like certain textures and things. And all of this goes back to their body is been wired, insufficiently. So the opposite of a C section is pressure. So what we like to do for our C section babies is to experience life with tons and tons of active deep pressure. So we accomplish that in different ways when you're actually in a therapy session. But at home, if you're a new C section, mom, infant massage is so great. We've already seen all that data come in anyways, we know it helps with bonding, but on a, on a scientific level, we're going to increase the actual touch between a mother and a baby. But it's an actual direct intervention, following a C section that can go back and rewire some of those pathways just by the pressure alone. And the time spent, you know, exchanging the oxytocin between the mother and the baby to kind of soothe the nervous system that didn't experience that squeeze, which provides pressure. And I'll go even further to say it's not that hard to understand what this is like, because we use hugs in life, to calm ourselves down. And this is all deeply rooted into the very beginning, which is the first squeeze that you received and how it caused your system to prepare for the change or the transition or what your nervous nervous system experienced,

I have to ask a question that I really believe that there's a difference between a scheduled C section and what we call an emergency C section. Absolutely. So in one case, the baby is working to come out is in labor is in a uterus that is contracting, and gets assistance in its birth, but in the other the baby is just going about it about its intra uterine life. And it's just removed.

Absolutely. And it's like if we were just sleeping at night at 2am, and then someone came in to rip the blankets off and turn the light on was like, let's go, you know, it's time to get to work, I mean, that they're essentially just sleeping and that my first was a scheduled planned C section. And, you know, I was not informed really of anything other than they wanted to take her early because that was good for their calendar. And intuitively, all I thought was, can at least go to 39 weeks, I mean, had to ask for that. And you know, now knowing what I know, I've experienced just everything that you know Jenny's describing with my first and I went back and kind of connected the dots, she never really even got like in your case in emergency where they are having the gentle pressure of contractions that all preps the nervous system. But the on the plan ones are the ones that kind of get the short end of the stick because they don't get any prep time to come into the world, they just have to come on into the bright lights.

So we do know just immediately following an unplanned C section tons of skin to skin because even if I have a stressful beginning, if my mother is there counteracting my future stress or my in the moment stress stress, which tends to look like colic and and all of the above. If she's responsive to me, then the attachment forms and I have a solution to my stress, but it definitely will tell you that if you are in the thick of it in the fourth trimester with a baby that is hard to soothe is called Game is struggling to eat all of that goes back to what type of birth did they experience when you have a baby that's slightly prepared for birth? Yeah, that's ideal. But you also get the mother has signaling stress to the baby as that birth escalates. So we see a fight or flight activation prior to even being removed by the C section because we just know that that's how biologically we've prepared the baby to survive following birth. So this goes way back to you know, like our brainstem responses. It's a primitive, like neuro signaling that a mother would say I'm experiencing a flood of cortisol doctor comes in and says, heart rate, heart rates dropping or your body is failing you and the baby isn't coming and you're just taking valium with your cortisol going up. We know that natural reaction is like of course I'm going to You know, like immediately stuck up for survival mode, but also flood the system with stress hormone, which crosses the percent placenta to the baby, telling the baby that it's potentially a dangerous environment that you're going to come to. So either all stall or slow labor, or if the interventions keep the baby coming, keep the baby coming, and I'm getting more and more stressed. And then now we're rushing down the hall, the signaling begins, you know, early so that the baby becomes out in that fight or flight mode. So that's your C section. We don't really, you know, we just like to know that it happens. And if you are a C section, mom, respond, respond, respond. Yeah, to your baby. Yes, neuroplasticity tells us that the environment does all the architecture,

and we do know Yeah, because and also think about, you know, when I know we're talking a lot about C section, but it's pretty prevalent, because, you know, we think about the bonding that gets immediately almost disrupted because we are in surgery, and you can't go right to skin the skin. I mean, usually wrap them up, you got to get out of the LR. And we do know that first golden hour which again, I was just like completely blinded, I had no idea it was going on in birth in the first time. Yeah, first time mom. So it's just you know, your baby's just wiring all those experiences. But like Jenny says, the more the mother can just go back, hold spin lots of time in the fourth trimester baby wearing baby wearing skin, the skin being responsive, and allowing the startle to just start on naturally and telling your baby you're safe, you're safe. That was the door shedding your safe, you know, you may see a heightened response based on you know, the intervention, heavy births, you know, namely a C section to question about swaddling. Yeah, how do you guys feel about swaddling, there's a lot of mixed information out there about you know, sometimes these highly sensitive babies and colicky babies really need this swaddling. We know that swaddling can interfere with breastfeeding, and we'd rather than be skin to skin, so there's a lot of like, pros and cons of the swaddling Where are you guys on it, and some babies don't like it, but maybe you definitely seem to not like it.

Most of them don't now, the colicky baby and the baby that does respond is actually responding to the pressure of what they're actually seeking is true responsiveness in the physical sense, and they're getting the second best solution the mother offers, which is well, if I can just kind of bind you up, you may be content for a little bit longer. So our first go to with any baby is observe them what they communicate. So if you're trying to swaddle your baby, and they're fighting it, then that is true communication, it's actually not in your or their benefit to keep trying to get that baby in a swaddle. Even if you know, after the swaddling processes over though Calm down, the best route would be to pull your shirt back where your button down shirts, get the buns off and put your baby's skin to skin until they're calm.

My babies didn't like swell, swaddling, and I definitely didn't ever attempt it a second time. However, I'm a huge fan of baby wearing. And after a few, a few clunky tries, and a little question for my babies, we all loved it. So what are we to think like, I like what you said about take that as real communication. I love that it makes sense to me. It's what I did in the case of swaddling. But then I'm thinking, Well, wait a minute, if I had thought of that, when I was trying to do the sling, I might have second guessed whether I should keep trying that now. Is that a different situation? Because they're on you in the end? And if you go through that effort, they are on you. And that's back to full circle? They're on you again. Absolutely. Yeah, there you go.

It's fine for your baby to express themselves. In fact, we are so extreme now in how biologically we approach infant development. We don't recommend pacifiers, we don't recommend swaddles, we don't recommend infant swings mumbos We literally teach moms to carry a nice, preferably organic quilt that's, you know, maybe two by two feet, that can go with you everywhere and you laid on the floor, and you put your baby on their tummy on the floor, everywhere you go. And it sounds a little bizarre when you first hear it. But it's basically the most natural form of helping your baby develop.

You don't mean instead of baby wearing. Yeah,

obviously, throughout your day, you know, you would especially a tiny baby, so when your baby's awake and it's time to separate from your baby instead of like trying to swaddle them into a nap or get them entertained in a center you you essentially want to immediately accommodate a tiny baby or introduce a tiny baby to the floor, but specifically on their belly on the floor because there's no achievement that occurs on the back. And the longer we leave our babies laying on their back the you know in nature alone, that's a death threat in itself. No mammal leaves their baby on their back, they always turn over and crawl to the mother. So you know, ideally so we talked about the ideal birth you get this very stress free first stage of labor where you're using your hypnosis or your mantras. And you've prepared mentally for the waves that are coming, or you have the water or the you know, whatever you need to make it through that first stage where you're not signaling to your baby, that the environment is stressful. You're working through it, and then you get that squeeze, the baby comes out. And then you lay the baby tummy to tell me what the mother which is the very first time you time experience a baby has so there's no more water, we know how different it feels to be in a pool, versus at alongside the pool. So the very first sensation of AB gets would be the Tommy DOM position on mom still connected by cord. And then that squeeze would have activated all the rest of the nervous system, which is a series of reflexes that begin moving the baby up to the breast. And the point is that if our ideal birth is happening, where our baby comes Tommy down first, nature already decided for us with the best position for babies and it's totally down on mother especially in that cocoon phase of letting them finish off that startling that happens the first three months and it just seals the deal for their nervous system because they're cocooned and they're stimulated sensationally from the same things. I'm responded to by mom, I'm on my tummy, either on her or horizontally on the floor, we never want a horizontal baby to be vertical unless they're literally baby wearing on a mother's tummy. So
I love, love, love what you're saying about all you need is a two by two blanket that goes everywhere with you. So mothers out there, you have permission to erase everything on the baby registry that involves dancers, seats, toys, anything that keeps them upright, your baby is best off if they literally are either on your body, or on a little blanket on the floor. And that's all you need. And we're huge proponents of like when people say, Well, what do I need to have a baby to get started, and we're like your breasts, you know, some diapers, a sling, and a TV blanket, it really astonishes me how many hours a baby can go in a car seat, when they are in those portable car seats, and they go in the car for a drive. And then they go into the grocery store for an hour. And then they go back in the car and while they're asleep. So they'll just stay there for two more hours. Right. And you know, four hours have gone by and the baby's been in the car seat. And how many times a day or a week. Does that happen? Absolutely. So that's that's just great. A two by two blankets. That's all you need. Yeah, really.

Yeah. And that and again, and another pillar in the method that we wrote is less as best for baby and for their development. We did the Method ourself with our second babies. So we tested this out firsthand before you know even hit the World Wide Web. But truly, what we found is that the baby aisle and target or wherever you shop, does not have, you know, milestone development in mind. They're just you know, essentially, they're there to sell you a product. And we all get sucked in because we want to buy cute things for our baby, or we think we need a million things. But again, yeah, less is best. And when you understand that your baby, your tiny baby can go to the floor. You know, in the first week of lies, if you're observing them and they're happy and the content and you're down there with them. We have seen time and time again hundreds of times that babies just get stronger, the startle reflex begins to fade because naturally being on your tummy, helps baby with their startle reflex. So like when they startle it's just comforting to be on your tummy. Like Jenny said, if you're turned over on your back, you feel more defenseless. So you may be startling, bigger with no way to really compensate. But that actual pressure being down on the floor on your tummy, or wearing on mom's just signaling to your baby, you're there, they're safe, or you're down there on the floor with them. And so then they begin to get stronger and they begin to pick themselves up the head, you know, they begin to lift their head and they start moving through all those motor milestones. So we always recommend just even when you're gonna go in, and yeah, it's extra work, but get your baby out of the car seat as much as you can, you know, um, buckle them you know, cuz just by baby where I'm in there, because by default, yeah, it's easy. Just pick up the car seat. And before you know it, six hours have gone by. And then that's what we see we are seeing a lot of babies just come in with, you know, plagiocephaly or flathead on one side, because of the amount of time they spend on their back.

It's not just about the flat head. This is so much more about also their their development and the lack of contact they're having and the lack of tummy time, which counts kind of when they're on your skin. And when that happens day after day after day after day for weeks on end that can significantly impact your baby's development. And we know that this is a modern day problem. I mean, back in the day babies were never sitting in a separate unit. They were on the mother's front or on the mother's back or probably on their tummy on dirt. That's exactly right. So we started this discussion talking about how stress and birth and the birth process can impact the Moro reflex, which then impacts how a baby develops, are there other reflexes that we should be aware of? Are there other ways that birth, pregnancy even load of delivery can impact baby's development? And what can moms look for? To know if we already talked about C section moms and what they know they need to do. But moms who maybe you know, had a stressful birth but still have vaginal birth, or they feel like they have a colicky baby, and they're hearing this episode, and they're thinking, well, is my baby overly sensitive? What should they be looking for? And what else can you tell us about milestones that they should be aware of?

Sure. Okay, so when we, when we go through this entire process, it can feel very heavy when we're talking about reflexes and nervous systems and fight or flight and stress. So we tried to bring this back to just the most basic of how it all biologically evolved. And what we know is that when we just even look back 500 years ago, like what we were doing, then 1000 2000 years ago, is dramatically different. So when we look at how birth affects development, we ideally want to set a pregnant mom up to be as mentally prepared for birth as possible. So whatever we can do to minimize the pregnant mother stress and inform her about birth, I think that alone is going to foundationally serve the baby that's coming because the mother is using her mental power to prepare the baby by decreasing cortisol exposure. And then moving into it, whatever your birth plan is, if it does go awry, the most important thing to understand is that if your baby experienced several days of stress versus a couple of hours, what you're going to do is put your observing lens on and see what you're looking at as a new as a new mother and a new baby. And if this baby was like an alien, newly arrived, you wouldn't need a book or a doctor or somebody else who didn't know this alien, you could only use your power of observation to see what you got. And if you see a baby that's frequently crying, very hard to soothe, difficult to separate from do the opposite. Don't separate from them don't obsess about letting them be passed around. Don't worry about swaddling them, don't be looking at what swing to buy, spend the time figuring out how to put them rappel on and responding to them and doing a lot of skin to skin because we know primally that's going to serve to increase your oxytocin and your bonding, which will begin to counteract the stress that they might have experienced in that birth process. And then from there, as the bond increases, and we can see this happening as the mother has less anxiety about the baby and the baby begins to stabilize and not crying too frequently. But it's it's all a stretch, we should definitely consider the first 12 weeks as a you know that time period of soothing the nervous system, soothing the nervous system. And when you're looking at your baby physically on the floor, if you're finding those brave moments to put them down, we know that other than the C section, some different things do come into play here in terms of how they develop. So the Pitocin and the anesthesia can do what we consider a black little blanket around the baby, if you will think they don't have as much receptivity to the environment. So these babies tend to gain weight really fast, they don't roll on time, they may be have a harder time holding their head up or keeping their head up. They're napping exceptionally long. They're kind of just like you're lazy babies, if you will, very, very passive. So your extreme opposite of your emergency or Plan C section child on the very end of the spectrum is the baby that just seems to be in bubble wrap. Very, very low key. And in fact, most of the time people when they have this child are pretty pleased with it. They think, oh, this is great. This baby never cries. It's like, you know, it's happy, happy, happy and it's not that we want to stress about happy baby but the connection for a mom understanding how birth defects development is that specific intervention can overwhelm the baby's receptors. So we see a chubby, chubby baby that's not as active and not as engaged in the environment and that snowballs in a different type of milestone delay because they get heavy quick and they don't respond to the environment. So they're down the road, not sitting on time, not crawling on time not standing and we get to delight walking, you said this is the baby who would have had Pitocin and labor or an epidural or both or motion is the double whammy if you do because you get what would be like the gentle process of the contractions being initiated by the Moro reflex of the baby and then increasing as the body prepares to you know, expel the baby but if you add the synthetic hormone then you get almost an immediate ramp or you know increase in that pressure that a baby's going to experience so that depending on the level of Pitocin going along and how long they what we would essentially say is slammed by contractions that are not natural or nature based means that you know, for a child that's having a really long labor 24 hours or so like my first baby, I had an epidural for almost two days, it was overdosed and my anesthesia, we didn't latch, he wasn't awake for two days. And the the mantra of the hospital is like, Oh, this is just kind of normal, though. They're sleeping it off. But we know, more involved.

So it seems to me the takeaway so far is to the extent that you had an intervention birth, we're looking for these responses, it's natural for a mother, you know, it's such a shame that there's this thing in culture for generations on end with like, Good baby, easy, baby. It's such a shame because it's like, you know, I'm, you know, when you have a little, you know, six, seven year old negotiating with you and you're like, I cannot believe I'm in a seriously intellectually intense dispute with my child or something. You can't help but have a little thought like good for you. Like you're gonna grow up and be a very well thinking capable adult. I mean, so it's kind of the same thing. I mean, that you don't want your baby to be a first of all, I totally reject the word good. I think that's just a shame. You should never use that language. But, you know, we're not looking for an easy baby. We're looking for a highly responsive baby, which may, at times be a demanding the way we want to interpret it based on our convenience, are demanding maybe in quotes. But what I'm hearing is it to the extent that you have intervention is the extent to which you just want to be on the alert for these things. And so far, the takeaway to me sounds like skin to skin, tummy time. Is there something I've missed to this point so far? About your takeaways? No, that's that's just right. responsiveness that I mean time, we don't recommend any swaddling responsiveness is really key. We touched on that, but we didn't really go into that responsiveness would be lack of scheduling your baby at a young age. So particularly as a lactation consultant, I'm talking all the time about feeding on cue, feeding on demand, learning your baby's language, and always responding and never feeling that you're going to create bad habits or spoil your baby by holding them too much going. Too much loving them too much. Responding to them too much, but people actually feel like that if I respond to them.

What does it mean? I have to have been meaning to ask the world to please tell me what does a spoiled baby mean? I mean, what what kind of adult you're going to have someone who's demanding like a mandate, convertible car? I don't I just don't I don't know. I think it's just a very strange concept.

So how do you guys feel about babies sleeping on their stomachs are 100% 100% Especially if your baby we get mothers asking us all the time, you know, my baby actually enjoys it, you know, and I'm scared. And I'm thinking again, like Jay says, we just we just preach, go back to observing what your baby, are they comfortable, do you enjoy sleeping on your stomach, or on your side, before the whole campaign began? In the 90s babies did sleep on their stomachs. And it's, it's a call. And that's what I'm saying. It's a calming position to be in. And we now know, because the startle reflex is so strong in those first three months that that is very calming for a baby. So you tend to sleep a lot better. That way.

Better misinformation about specifically suits versus asphyxiation, you're going to be can sleep on their tummy without being at risk for a situation I mean, even to be face down. It's like, we have to talk about the things that we don't want to talk about. Because when we don't talk about them in the way that helps people understand what these things are, your baby being ruled as SIDS is, there is no information at this point. To understand why this happened. And it is, it's a theory that's sleeping on your tummy, which has not been proven, you know, and what we know when we look at nature, which is where we always get the most 100% Correct answer is that all mammals are belly down from the very beginning. So it just seems to be our own detriment.

So my daughter was nine and a half pounds at birth. And when she was a week old, my mother was visiting, and it was so hard to get her to take a nap. She's my second. And it was hard to get her to rest peacefully for a nap. And I said, Mom, she just wants to be on her stomach. And my mother just looked at me with so much compassion and said, Cynthia, you loved sleeping on your stomach. Yeah, and I needed permission from her. I needed someone to say it's okay. So I did it. And I was of course nervous, but I did it. I checked the check. And she had these long wonderful maps. But here's she was not because I mentioned her weight because she was strong for one week old because she was nine and a half. But I remember checking on her at one point and her head was perfectly turned to the other direction. She had lifted her head and placed it on the other cheek. But here's my question. Is that then a chiropractic concern? Is that a spinal concern? I just I had that thought I let her sleep on her stomach. But I did think is it okay to have her head all the way turns like that you're nodding. So is that reflex? Oh, it's all okay. It's all okay. My instinct works. What do you know? Like that's what mothers need to hear?

Yeah, does that answer your reflex

reflex is the one where their little head and arms come out. So when they hit turn their head, they naturally will reflexively move their body. It's all nature design. I mean, there's just no accident in all of it. And the most important thing about that, too, is that like, when, when we're using just how nature works, it just works effortlessly, it just all comes together so easily.

There's so much fear that putting a baby to sleep on their stomach, a baby won't be able to lift up their head and turn it from side to side. But the second you put a brand new baby on a mother's chest, they literally can lift their head up, yeah, and find the nipple and latch on. They all they all know how to do it.

Yeah, they really do. So this is the for me, this is the question of the day. One of the paradoxical things that I've feel exists in this whole world of prenatal and postpartum support to mothers is, it's the sensitive mothers who are hardest on themselves. And it's the luckiest babies who are born to sensitive mothers. So the irony is like those who are getting postpartum anxiety is because they're so bonded to their babies, they're so worried about doing everything right for their babies. And then those are the mothers who are suffering most with the babies, who are the luckiest because their mothers are highly attentive and highly sensitive to their needs. When we have a conversation like this, I always feel a little bit filled with compassion for the woman who had the birth not go the way she wanted to. She's highly sensitive. And you're each raising your hand, which I think lends so much credibility to the work you do. And it's kind of it's kind of a beautiful aspect of your life story that you can each say you also had healing births the second time and you have to be at peace with the fact that one of your children had an easier transition into all of this than the other and and I'm sure you've had to come to peace with that. But here's my question for the women listening. Is it ever too late? Are they going to listen and think I missed my whole window? Now, my baby is way past that period? Also, that's the other question, is it irreparable? And is it ever too late?

That is a great question. And it's never too late to go back and bond with your baby in the first years. And just know that your mindset is the biggest power tool you hold. And so the less you can stress, even around your baby, even if you didn't have the birth you wanted, you're actually give us a great tip earlier on when you said that baby wearing is the same as basically hugging what we do with our older children or as adults. And so if your baby's even two, or three or seven, just go to that simple. That's simple. That's the deep pressure, it's going back. It's the physicality of it. In fact, the older the child gets, the more less physical, we are with them. So it actually it's that mindset shift to go, I'm actually going to the infant brain, and I can go back and squeeze them squeeze my nine year old and say, you know, this is what you didn't get when you train old into this side. And you know, I can pepper it back in and the brain always respond which we did with our own first we went back and I allowed my two year old to come in and sleep with me because of the attachment basically disorder and dysfunction we had, I saw her behaviors as a reach out to me not as something to push away, which I invited her back into the bed with me and attach herself that way to me it's been a long process, but that's just something we've done and enjoyed so so the end of the day is if you haven't prevented if you're pregnant right now, take all of this as like maximizing your stress free living and leaning into what your heart tells you because your intuition is biologically going to guide you and if you are down the road and have connected the dots you really just use the earliest tools which is being close together physical touch, honoring communication and respect which ultimately goes in and bring those pathways in the brain

And just lean into your own intuitive heart because it's really never wrong.

Thank you for joining us at the Down To Birth Show. You can reach us @downtobirthshow on Instagram or email us at Contact@DownToBirthShow.com. All of Cynthia’s classes and Trisha’s breastfeeding services are offered live online, serving women and couples everywhere. Please remember this information is made available to you for educational and informational purposes only. It is in no way a substitute for medical advice. For our full disclaimer visit downtobirthshow.com/disclaimer. Thanks for tuning in, and as always, hear everyone and listen to yourself.

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About Cynthia Overgard

Cynthia is a published writer, advocate, childbirth educator and postpartum support specialist in prenatal/postpartum healthcare and has served thousands of clients since 2007. 

About Trisha Ludwig

Trisha is a Yale-educated Certified Nurse Midwife and International Board Certified Lactation Counselor. She has worked in women's health for more than 15 years.

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