A new study is showing a link in Mice to the smell of the mother and not pheromones like previously thought in all mammals. You can read more by searching the internet or reading this article.
Could this study on mice show that humans are much the same? Maybe. The study was done on mice because mice parent more like humans than rabbits who have been shown to use pheromones to trigger nursing in their young.
In short, the study showed that the combination of smells and amniotic fluid at birth helps trigger baby to nurse. If the mice did not get that smell they did not successfully nurse like the mice that where exposed to those smells at birth. It sounds like the mice have to learn mothers smell in order to trigger nursing.
This makes me wonder about our artificial hospital protocols. Baby is born into latex covered hands and sterile plastic and paper. It might spend a minute on it’s mother before being whisked away to an alien world of more plastic and hard tools and poking and prodding and smells that are not mother. Painful drops are put in babies eyes making it hard for baby to bond some believe. All fluids are washed from baby either fully or mostly before baby is wrapped and given back to mom often bundles so that none of Moms amniotic fluid is on her.
What about c-section babies that never get the smells of their mother all at once to learn from? Is it harder for them? Could this some how be helped? Would Drs even listen if something could be done? I ask because with my last hospital birth I asked the Dr not to clamp right after birth but to wait till the cord was done pulsing and giving baby all the blood and he said he had never seen a cord pulsing and the baby didn’t need the blood. It was a battle over a simple request to delay cord clamping for a moment. How many battles can a crunchy parent deal with in the hospital? We have to pick our battles and there seem to be a lot of them that are not in line with hospital policy from not wanting an IV to birthing in a position that is more natural than on ones back.
Now picture how birth normally would go in my mind and experience with home births. Baby is born and placed on mothers chest to nurse, goo and all. The smells of mother mix and nothing gets between them. Learning can start at once. This has been my experience with my home births. While nursing is never easy for me because of a medical condition that effect a full supply around 4 months getting the right start was near impossible with my hospital babies.
While we might not be at all like mice in the end, I think there is merit to letting mother and baby bond skin to skin right after birth and removing the baby very minimally when needed. In the end, I could always be wrong.