A new life has begun in a stranger’s hands in a cold room filled with bright lights and unfamiliar voices. A tiny new babe has been “helped” from his safe cocoon like a chick whose shell has been peeled away by well-meaning fingers. This child does not know he has been born into an atmosphere of mistrust; an atmosphere that harbors the belief that his mother is helpless, his father is ignorant, and nature is out to get him. His nose and mouth are roughly suctioned. On a table with bright lights he is carefully examined and his A.P.G.A.R. Score assessed. Then, still naked and cold, he is weighed and measured so that the paperwork can be promptly completed. And last of all he receives a vitamin K shot in his heel and ointment is smeared into his eyes to prevent him from getting an infection from a bacteria which may or may not have been present in his mother’s vagina. Now that he has been in the world for several minutes during which he was touched and talked to only by people he doesn’t recognize, he is presented to his parents, goopy-eyed and confused. If during this time the mother is too drugged or exhausted to safely hold her baby he will be presented to his daddy for obligatory bonding time. Meanwhile, delivery-room staff will proceed to clean up the room as quickly as possible to enable the hasty removal of mother and child to a different room. No one will be concerned about the amount of light and noise this requires so long as the care of the new mother and her infant is efficiently transferred to a new staff within twenty-minutes.
This could be the successful hospital birth of your child. Remember to say farewell to the multitude of strangers who assisted during your stay as you will most likely never see any of these people again. And if you have post-partum depression or need help with breast-feeding none of these people will be available to help you. You are on your own now and the only thing you will receive is a prompt bill of at least ten-thousand dollars. You have survived the modern birth system and if you are one of the lucky ones who made it through relatively unscathed – congratulations! But in the end if you feel you’ve been betrayed, manhandled or mistreated, just remember that at least you are holding a precious new baby in your arms (and try not to feel guilty if that fact doesn’t seem to help you stop feeling bad.)
Meanwhile, another life has begun in a small, quiet corner of the world. A mother pulls her new infant to her body where her warmth engulfs her baby. This child has been born into an atmosphere of love and reverence; his birth has been carefully planned for and joyfully awaited. Within minutes he is nursing at his mother’s breast, alert and feeling safe. He will not notice that he is being examined, measured or weighed because he will either be asleep, nursing, or cuddled contentedly in his mother’s arms. There is barely a noticeable amount of noise or movement, yet within a couple of hours the room will be silent, clean, and empty except for this new family resting together. At some point in the following days and weeks the midwife may again be at the mother’s side, answering questions about breast-feeding, filling out a birth certificate and observing, with satisfaction, the glow of new motherhood. This is a child who went from his mother’s womb to his mother’s arms – he never spent time in a plastic bassinet or a stranger’s gloved hands. He experienced an abundance of safety, love and warmth – enough to dispel any fear that he may have felt during his transition from his inner world to a strange new outer world. He will not require a staff of strangers to bathe him, feed him or change him. He will sleep, eat and rest next to his mother in this small, quiet corner of the world.