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At birth:
There is an intense body-to- body connection between mother and baby, and when left undisturbed, skin-to-skin, mother and baby respond to each other, soul to soul, as their instinct unfolds: the transfer of information from nerve endings in skin traveling deep into the central nervous system. Raw, naked, wet sensuality, communication between bodies, pulsing vehicles of exchange. Like foreplay, when a gentle lover coaxes sensual responses through touch, flesh on flesh, until commingled bodies become one, a baby on its mother’s belly is primed to search, find and attach to the source - the nipple. The baby, seeing its mother for the first time, but knowing her and familiar with her through smell, touch, and taste. Mother’s nipple smells and tastes like amniotic fluid, and the baby has touched the innermost parts of its mother’s body from the time of conception. The sound of mother’s voice previously muffled through flesh, is now at once familiar and clearly new. Baby is HOME.

There is no need to teach the mother how to nurse her baby. There is no need for the baby to learn to breastfeed. This is HOME. Bringing baby HOME ignites the spontaneous action rooted in the depths of the physiology of our bodies. It is at once physical and energetic. An exchange of love, energy, and sensation so intense it is difficult to truly understand unless you have experienced it. It is the wonder of energy-exchange via flesh. Nursing is part of the inborn mechanism known as a primitive neonatal reflex and is dependent on baby being prone (tummy to tummy) on its mother in order for the reflex to be expressed. Without this time, the instinct is lost, and then, feeding behaviors must be approached cognitively - feeding must now be learned.

Contrast the raw physicality of HOME - the uninterrupted commingling and instinctual bonding - with the routine hospital delivery. Harsh, cold, steel, and lights, gloved hands hand-off to the nurse who puts this new being in a flat, non-conforming warmer, electronic heat replacing the soft warmth of a mother's body heat. Latex clad hands harshly rub the newly born baby with a rough blanket to stimulate and dry off the birth fluids so necessary in body-based communication. Then swaddled tightly, arms bound, impeding baby’s essential freedom of movement – these navigational skills needed to establish the life-giving relationship between mother and baby thwarted.


In the days and months after birth:
When the MotherBaby is unhindered and unseparated during sleep, the baby navigates to the source, often without help. Mom may even be asleep, but baby knows from whence its food comes and can find its way there. Through smell, touch, feeling, sound, warmth, and taste, baby moves purposefully, toward the nipple, and latches without assistance. This inborn ability is essential to survival. This ability is part of a protective mechanism against SIDS. The closeness also ensures entrainment. Entrainment is the crystallizing of autonomic pathways that control breathing and heart rate. Not only does baby’s breathing and heart rate synchronize with its mother’s, but also the neuropathways become hardwired, lessening the chance of apneic episodes. This is HOME– the unseen expression of the connection between mother and baby.

By Chantal Molnar
of The Milky Way


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