The arrival of a newborn brings joy, excitement, and a flurry of preparations. Parents often go to great lengths to ensure their baby's comfort and safety, including dressing them in adorable outfits, complete with tiny hats. However, there is a growing awareness among birth professionals about the potential negative effects of putting hats on babies immediately after birth.
Can the common the practice of covering a newborn's head interrupt the natural flow in the mother's body, interrupt the bonding process and increase the chances of postpartum hemorrhage (PPH)?
The Curse of the Baby Hat:
Maddie McMahon, a renowned birth professional, delves deep into this topic in her insightful blog post, "Use Your Loaf: The Curse of the Baby Hat." Maddie highlights the significance of understanding the physiological process that occurs between a mother and her baby immediately after birth. When a baby is born, their skin-to-skin contact with the mother triggers a cascade of hormonal responses that promote bonding, regulate body temperature, and support breastfeeding.
Skin-to-skin contact is a crucial aspect of the early bonding process between a mother and her baby. It helps regulate the baby's body temperature, stabilizes their heart rate and breathing, and fosters the release of oxytocin, often referred to as the "love hormone." Oxytocin plays a vital role in initiating breastfeeding and contracting the uterus, thus reducing the risk of postpartum bleeding.
Placing a hat on a newborn's head immediately after birth may seem harmless, but it can interfere with the natural processes occurring in the mother's body. The warmth provided by the hat can prevent the baby's skin from coming into direct contact with the mother's chest, and stop the mother from smelling that sweet new baby smell, disrupting the delicate and important balance of hormones. This interruption can hinder the release of oxytocin, leading to a decreased intensity of uterine contractions.
Postpartum Hemorrhage Risk:
Postpartum hemorrhage, the excessive bleeding after childbirth, can be a significant concern for both mothers and healthcare professionals. By inhibiting the release of oxytocin (with hats, too much chat in the room,asking the mother lots of questions, etc etc) and impeding the natural process of breastfeeding initiation, the practice of putting hats on newborns may inadvertently contribute to this potentially serious complication.
Promoting Informed Choices:
It is important for parents and birth professionals to have access to accurate information when making decisions about newborn care. Understanding the significance of skin-to-skin contact and its impact on maternal health, it empowers individuals to make informed choices that support the well-being of both mother and baby. By promoting uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact and encouraging natural processes, we can enhance the bonding experience and reduce the risk of postpartum complications.
Yes, warmth and temperature control for a newborn is a very important aspect of their healthcare, especially when in the moments after birth when they are damp recouping from birth. But when in skin-to-skin contact with their parent (more specifically their mother) and the diad is covered by a blanket or towels, then nature will provide the best temperature control possible, no hat required.
The simple act of not putting hats on newborns can have a profound impact on a mother-baby’s postpartum health. By allowing uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact and supporting the natural processes that occur between a mother and her baby, we can foster optimal bonding, successful breastfeeding (if that is the parents wishes), and reduce the risk of postpartum hemorrhage. Let us prioritise the well-being of both mothers and babies by embracing the beauty of their unobstructed connection from the very first moments of life.