Three Things We Need To Stop Doing to Newborns!

I just attended the Trust Birth Conference in Nashville, Tennessee, (I am a doula).It was an amazing, mind-blowing and Oxytocin-filled adventure. I got to meet some of my heroines and I learned so much!

Something new that I learned from Carla Hartley at the closing of the conference, was why we should stop putting little hats on new borns. What? Seems like a necessary thing no? Let’s keep that widdle head warm no? NO! A Mother’s body is all that healthy baby needs. According to Boba’s site;

Guilty of Hatting my Own Wee One :0


“A mother has actual “thermal synchrony” with her infant. When a baby is placed in the kangaroo position, skin to skin with his mother, the temperature of the mother’s breasts actually change so that her baby can better maintain his own temperature. If the baby gets too cold the mother’s body temperature will actually warm up one degree to help warm the baby. If the baby gets too hot, the mother’s body temperature will decrease one degree to cool the baby. This even works when twins are kangarooed (Ludington-Hoe, 2004). Furthermore, the flexed position that the baby assumes on his mother’s chest as opposed to lying on his back in an incubator is a more efficient position for conserving heat.”

The Brain Limbic System

The Brain Limbic System (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Okay, okay, so maybe the baby doesn’t NEED a little hatwhat’s wrong with putting it on anyway? A mothers limbic system is set up to receive the smell of her baby.

Research has demonstrated that the changes to the olfactory bulb and main olfactory system following birth are extremely important and influential for maternal behavior. Mammalian olfactory cues play an important role in the coordination of the mother infant bond, and the following normal development of the offspring. Maternal breast odors are individually distinctive, and provide a basis for recognition of the mother by her offspring”.

This can be disturbed by the very presence of this seemingly innocent cap. Human emotions are needed for a baby’s survival since needy infants are completely helpless and dependent on their parents for protecting, caring for and feeding them. Dr. Arthur Janov says:

What transpires between mother and child is a conversation between their right-side limbic systems.

When the mother is attuned to the baby’s feelings, her right limbic system is in tune, and she can feel what the baby is feeling and respond appropriately.

The more parental love there is, the more dopamine neurons in the right brain activate, giving the child a feeling of wellbeing.

The better the baby feels about its environment, the more optimum the dopamine activation in the right brain.

What happens when we receive mother’s love is that we feel good physiologically.

So you say, alright, no hatting. What else?

STOP chatting. The “Huh” you say? Yep. I learned that this time of bonding belongs to the parents. Baby has been hearing their voices almost exclusively. Baby is waiting to hear THOSE voices, not yours. Now is not the time to start processing, this moment belongs to the family. You will have plenty of time to talk about the birth or your feelings about the event that just transpired. When I thought about my role as a doula it seemed right that I smile and beam and wait to talk till I was invited to do so and even then keep a respectful distance.
STOP patting. What? Not touch the baby? Um, no. That baby does not need to be touched by anyone but mama and her partner. The immune system of a newborn is not as strong as an older infant or child. The antibodies that it is born with comes from the mother. The mother can only pass along antibodies against germs which she has built up and immunity to. So hands off, I know that newborn skin is SO TEMPTING! But you must RESIST!

So, yeah. Like Carla says; “STOP HATTING STOP CHATTING STOP PATTING. I read this today and I think it pertains to this topic of not pushing your self on this miraculous event: “

The Revelation for the ego is to recognize that others are equally important, that their point of view matters, their needs count, and their states of mind, body and soul are entirely valid. 

Let’s respect this family that has just been born. Let us be reminded that their bodies knew how to birth/be born with little assistance (if any) why would they now suddenly need us? Give it a thought and let me know what you think…

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This is the posts comments

  1. sarah April 24, 2012 at 3:06 pm #

    Great article! I clicked over, ready to agree with everything except the ‘no hatting’ but, that was because I didn’t realize that when the title said newborn, you really meant NEWBORN! :) Taking into account that we’re talking about an infant just arriving and being placed on it’s mother, fresh from the womb, I am in total aggreement.

    I’m expecting my first this August & I am really hoping for a calm, quiet, sacred experience for my husband, our child & myself. We’re depending on our amazing doula to help us maintain the space for us so that we can let go of that bit of anxiety & focus on the task at hand.

    Thanks for the great article!

    • gena kirby April 28, 2012 at 3:50 am #

      Thank you! I wish you all the best! Congrats on your pregnancy. Talk soon! -Gena

  2. Sarah BabyCalm April 24, 2012 at 9:05 pm #

    Also – when you place a hat on a newborn baby you prevent the mother from kissing and nuzzling the newborn’s head. When she does this the mother will ingest the bacteria on the baby’s head that it has been exposed to during the birth, she will then begin to make antibodies to those bacteria which she will pass on, in turn, to the newborn via her breastmilk – take the hats off newborns people!

    • gena kirby April 28, 2012 at 3:51 am #

      Fabulous! Well said! I hope you can share this with us on our facebook page. Apparently some folks are not happy about this post.

      • Ryan May 29, 2012 at 2:42 pm #

        I did do it all natural again. I didn’t do hypno btnrhiig. I read the Bradley Method book. I wouldn’t say I follow a method at all, but that book was helpful. Wait, so you are pregnant right now???? If so, congrats.. that is so exciting!! Let me know if you want to chat more about birth sometime .

  3. The Fashionable Housewife April 25, 2012 at 1:56 am #

    Excellent article!!! I am guilty of hatting but I made sure my two births were peaceful and quiet as possible during and after. And I didn’t let anyone but my husband hold our two children for the first month. This little tiny human being just came out of my body for pete’s sake! It’s just too personal… I wasn’t about to pass the baby around… I got a lot of looks and remarks about it, but I don’t care! :-)

    • gena kirby April 28, 2012 at 3:55 am #

      Good for you Fashionable!! I hatted my 1st and 3rd baby but not my 2nd. She was an ecstatic precipitous accidental unassisted labor. No hat no interference. Our bond was SO strong! Wowee, JUST NOW putting these things together now..HOWEVER I love my girls, I jut wish I knew then what I know now, you know? xoxo

    • gena kirby April 28, 2012 at 3:55 am #

      Good for you Fashionable!! I hatted my 1st and 3rd baby but not my 2nd. She was an ecstatic precipitous accidental unassisted labor. No hat no interference. Our bond was SO strong! Wowee, JUST NOW putting these things together now..HOWEVER I love my girls, I just wish I knew then what I know now, you know? xoxo

  4. amy April 25, 2012 at 9:51 am #

    I love this post. I have had three children and wish that my partner and I had internalized your words of wisdom before having our first, plus hired a doula.

    • gena kirby April 28, 2012 at 3:55 am #

      Thank you Amy. You sound plenty wise.

  5. Cheryl Jazzar April 25, 2012 at 12:21 pm #

    Well put, Gena! I wish we had gotten to visit at the conference! I hope you got some info on I’ll look forward to meeting you again! Best, Cheryl

    • gena kirby April 28, 2012 at 3:56 am #

      Cheryl host my rebozo class in your home town AND we can kick it!

  6. sam April 25, 2012 at 5:01 pm #

    Also, STOP circumcising babies!!!

  7. Toshia April 25, 2012 at 8:35 pm #

    What about fathers? Is it possible for fathers after a cesarean to be skin to skin and have the same response/ feedback loop?

  8. Mare54 April 27, 2012 at 10:02 am #

    YOu forgot #4…….stop cutting the normal healthy genitals of baby boys!

  9. Jen Stevens April 28, 2012 at 2:13 am #

    Love this. It makes so much sense. I have no control over whether a baby is ‘hatted’ at birth, as a doula, but I very much back off and don’t chat or pat after a baby comes. I am just trying to leave the new family in their own bubble; a bubble in which I do not belong! I am going to begin bringing up ‘hatting’ to my clients though, prior to their births, as something they can put into their birth plans if they wish….

    Thanks so much.

    • Craig May 1, 2012 at 3:50 pm #

      Sounds great! I love that you get that it’s not your experience! Doula HUGS! Hey, do you know about our show DOULA MENTOR TV ( )
      Join us mondays at 10am cst

      • gena kirby May 1, 2012 at 3:56 pm #

        LOL I was logged in as Craig! Sorry GENA not Craig sends you virtual Doula HUGS

  10. Em April 28, 2012 at 2:29 am #

    Yes,I encourage fathers to have skin-to-skin time with their baby after Caesarians :) theatre staff think I’m weird!

  11. JeannieC April 28, 2012 at 5:14 am #

    Omigosh! The scent of my baby’s hair/head was the greatest “pheromone” (for lack of a better word :-) ) in the universe! I sniffed my grand-daughter’s head (quietly LOL) – when I got to see her at a few months old, and was disappointed that it wasn’t the same – yet she had her own special, special scent! My son didn’t have a hat on his head for MONTHS – and I didn’t even know all this. Ummm, he’s nearly 32 and if I happen to be where he is when he’s sleeping and it doesn’t show me as totally weird (as in – “no one’s lookin’) – I STILL sniff his hair and STILL get the same feeling of total, total love! My eldest is adopted and I sooo missed having that experience with him, He was 17 mos. He and I still bonded, tho.

  12. Sara April 29, 2012 at 10:34 am #

    I love this post. It’s so funny how this has come instinctually to me, and yet I’m pregnant with my third child and only just now insisting on these things. Especially hatting. Blankets? Yes please! But stop with all the hats and clothes! Mama is plenty warm.

    I’ve never been afraid to say “no” to someone asking to hold my baby. They aren’t accessories.

    And yes, stop cutting healthy skin off of minors. It’s unethical, and It’s a human rights issue.

  13. Rebecca April 29, 2012 at 6:34 pm #

    Interesting ideas! When I had my first, I was completely out of it (recovering from an emergency c-section) and most of the time, my daughter wore a hat. At times when she wasn’t wearing a hat, she would get cold, even having a slightly blue look so it seemed the hat was necessary. Unfortunately, my sister-in-law and brother came over to the hospital with their 1 year old son to touch my baby (even though I didn’t answer their phone call), but my daughter survived so no sense thinking about it. I just found out that I’m pregnant and because it’s the second time around, I will be more involved with what happens with her/him in the hospital. I hope to feel much better after the delivery (hoping it will be a VBAC) so we can do more skin to skin instead of wearing a hat most of the time.

  14. Catherine Hieger July 26, 2012 at 3:59 pm #

    This is fascinating, We recently had a birth in the family, where all these things occurred, that infant ended up in the PICU for 12 days following dismissal. No known cause. DH thinks it was b/c of all the passing, hatting , a chatting that went on.

  15. Charlotte Warren October 2, 2012 at 10:56 pm #

    Oh my God! Hats! HATS! Scary HATTTTSSSS! And they're coming this way….

  16. Tori Rodney October 23, 2013 at 11:19 pm #

    I don't think that I'd want to be friends with anyone that follows this kind of sanctimonious, perfectionistic parenting hogwash. Parenting has become such a douchey endeavor these days. What crap.

  17. Mandy Elizabeth November 2, 2013 at 5:51 pm #

    Huh? Seriously? You seriously think that? Good grief.

  18. Natasha Ann Obest December 13, 2013 at 6:16 pm #

    I love this. Very gentle and thoughtful ways to keep the newborn and new family time sacred and completely in the parents control

  19. Lo Maret December 13, 2013 at 6:27 pm #

    Gena Kirby people just don't want to learn or hear anything new that doesn't correspond to their current level of understand.

  20. Christine BirthDoula Catherall December 13, 2013 at 6:48 pm #

    How does this NOT apply to all infants? Babies turn towards mom when she talks, towards the partner when he/she talks but never towards me as the doula. I have seen this time and time again. A lot of hospitals still think that babies need to be put in warmers and have hats on. I have never seen a baby with a low temperature who is laying on mom, skin to skin without a hat. And why would anyone be touching the baby besides mom and dad? I often don't hold the baby at a birth. As a doula, that is not for me to do, the baby should ideally be skin to skin with mom and smelling her and trying to latch on his/her own and mom and dad should be talking to baby and welcoming their baby to the world.

  21. Amber Ciofalo December 13, 2013 at 9:11 pm #

    This is the least helpful, least contributing comment ever.

  22. Amber Ciofalo December 13, 2013 at 9:13 pm #

    No, parenting is getting back to what it SHOULD be. The douchey endeavor has been the last 80 or so years of parenting.

  23. Tori Rodney December 13, 2013 at 11:17 pm #

    Amber Ciofalo I strongly disagree with you. I can't speak for you but I know that I was brought up in the last 80 years that you speak of and I'm well-adjusted and happy and blossomed during my childhood. So did my friends, their friends, my family and the generations before them. We also ALL survived it. This article is B.S. and if you buy into it, I feel sorry for your kids because you're probably one of "those" moms that forgets how to be a human being once she has kids.

  24. Carol L Oswald December 14, 2013 at 1:58 am #

    Ummm, actually, yes, the nurses are waiting to hat your baby and whisk her/him away to the nursery to wash and clean ad rehat your baby. I am not sure where you live and give birth but that is exactly what they do. I love the reasoning behind the suggestions but I am not sure I could follow them completely. But I will think about it.

  25. Anita Evensen December 14, 2013 at 2:37 am #

    I like this article. I agree with it completely. But it makes me sad to see so many negative comments about it. Even if you don't agree, you can do so respectfully. That being said, newborn babies just need their mommies (and daddies if available). But the childbirth attendants that respect that are few and far between. Therefore, heads off to doulas and midwives who actually take a hands-off approach.

  26. Rebecca Campbell December 14, 2013 at 3:32 am #

    I think its funny that people find this dumb. I think its because they don't understand it. oh well. hat your baby if you want. But chill out. its not her fault you can't understand the science of which she speaks of.

    • Maureen Dunn May 7, 2014 at 2:25 pm #

      I’m sorry, science? This I HAD to comment on. This blog post references a commercial baby carrier web site, Wikipedia, and a celebrity psychotherapist who treats mental illness, in order to explain why newborns shouldn’t wear hats. The only actual scientific study referenced (Ludington Hoe, 2004) was a study constructed to test the safety of kangaroo care with preterm infants, and they concluded that it was safe. That’s it. Don’t put a hat on your (term) baby if you like, and absolutely use kangaroo care, but please don’t say that this blog post is scientifically based. That’s just laughable.

  27. Alicia Cooper December 15, 2013 at 7:30 am #

    I could not say it better. This is so true and speaks to my heart. Thank you for sharing.

  28. Sandy Riley December 20, 2013 at 8:09 am #

    I totally agree with this article. I am a doula too. Marina, why do you think this advice is dumb? Perhaps, you are unaware that the hormones released at birth have a scent called pheromones, this scent emanates from babies head, so mothers need to smell this scent as part of the bonding process.


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