Newborn Instincts

Your newborn is amazing.

And for more reasons than you might think.

Aside from being exceptionally cute, they have incredible instincts that are broken down to 9 specific stages in their first few hours postpartum.

When you meet your new baby you might be wondering how they know to start feeding, how they can hold onto you and have all these instincts that help them transition to their first day in the great big world. 

The Birth Cry

This is music to every new mother's ears. That initial cry indicates a healthy gasp of air for the first time, as the lungs expand. This is the first peep you'll hear out of your new baby and it's incredible to hear. There's nothing to be concerned about, all babies need to let out a gasp and a cry to get the fluid out of their lungs and start breathing air outside the womb.


Birth is exhausting! Once they've cried a healthy supply of oxygen into their new lungs, it's time to take a load off. During this stage, the body relaxes and the baby gets bundled into a warm towel, blanket or gets warm skin to skin contact with mom. They're usually not "awake or alert" during this stage and just relaxing from the stress of birth.


Good morning sunshine! After getting some time to relax, a newborn wakes up. A little under five minutes into the world, a baby wakes up and starts moving around. After all there's plenty to see in this new space and tons of room to start wiggling around. During the awakening stage, a newborn will start opening their eyes, moving hands, arms shoulders and feet while opening their mouth. Sometimes babies will even crack a smile.


Around ten minutes after birth, a newborn is awake and starting their rooting reflexes. You'll see more mouth movements and they'll start rooting around for their first meal. They've been through quite the journey and it's just about dinner time. 


At any point in the first hour or so postpartum, a new baby might take the opportunity to rest. New babies have quite a bit of developing to do and require a ton of rest. Through the first hour or so after birth, your baby will periodically rest or doze off in between activity. 


While they can't crawl across the floor, your baby can actually do a fair amount of crawling. It's incredible how they can move so much of their body weight so soon after birth and within the first half hour, they're crawling toward a mother's breast to start feeding. Crawling isn't exactly what you'd think and it's more like reaching and searching for food. 


Everything is so new and where's a baby to find some directions? During familiarization, a newborn is acquainting themselves with the mother's skin, breast and nipple. This will help them feed better and be the first bonding experience the mother and baby will share. This is an opportunity for skin to skin contact, keeping the baby warm and familiarizing with the scent, feel and sound of their mother outside the womb. 


Time for dinner. During the 8th phase, the newborn begins suckling and feeding. The newborn gets itself to this point when they're ready and it usually takes between 40 minutes to an hour to get them to latch for the first time. They won't consume too much volume, but don't worry there will be plenty of time to fill their bellies later on. Your labor doula can help you facilitate this process and find a position that's comfortable for you and your new baby. 


What a day! After they've suckled, the newborn (and the mother) usually falls asleep. They've been through a lot and it's left them exhausted. A new baby typically sleeps 1 to 2 hours after birth and will snooze on and off all day and night throughout the first few weeks. 

What a process!

It's incredible how many instincts help a new baby transition into the world in their first hour after birth. Knowing these stages help parents prepare and relax as they watch their new baby take their first breaths, learn to eat and how to snooze.