"I didn't know my baby was a REAL person," the young dad says.

My friend teaches a wonderful childbirth education classes but ask me to cover "The Newborn" one evening while she is out of town. Though this class has traditionally been used to teach how to diaper a baby or give a bath, I decide to take a different approach.

"Tonight we will discuss learning to read your baby's body language.   You might say we're gonna learn to talk Baby Talk!" I say as I turn on The HUG Your Baby DVD. "Let's learn about three newborn Zones (Resting, Ready, & Rebooting Zone) and a newborn’s SOSs (Signs of Over-Stimulation)."

We watch the video showing a baby in that amazing Ready Zone.
 Her eyes are bright, she looks attentive and ready to eat or play. Another baby demonstrates the all-too-familiar Rebooting Zone when we see baby's arms get jerky, his breathing increase and his face squeeze into that crying mode. As we look at the baby in the Resting Zone, one dad contributes to this light-hearted class, "Looks like me after Thanksgiving dinner!"

Together we then watch as a baby sends out an SOS- Sign of Over-Stimulation. Little Caleb on the video shows us those Body SOSs as the nurse plays with him. He gets a bit red in color,  his movement gets jerky and he starts to tremor, and his breathing gets faster. "I would have worried that he was having some kind of meltdown, " the young father-to-be offers. He seems relieved when he sees how the baby calms down when the nurse holds his hands against his chest, swaddles him and quietens her voice.

The expectant moms and dads are surprised by the Behavioral SOSs: Spacing Out, Switching Off and Shutting Down. One Dad-to-be reflects on this behavior, "That kid is just like me. My wife says I 'Switch Off' like that!"

Amazed at how much a baby can communicate, another dad sums it up by exclaiming, “I never knew babies were REAL PEOPLE!”  This young father goes on to explain how he had worried about spoiling his baby. "But, now I see that I can understand that my baby is just 'talking to me'. That's not spoiling him. It's just being a good dad!"

I am curious to see if this view of the infant as a REAL person, ready and able to communicate, might spark questions about how birthing choices effect that baby. I review information on natural oxytocin and adrenaline and its influences on the newborn's ability to be alert at birth. We then consider the impact of birthing interventions on the newborn. I suddenly see a sparkle in the eyes of one pregnant woman. "I can't wait to get to know my baby! I want to do all I can to help her come into this world ready to communicate with me!"

This evening I experience the magic of childbirth education. Tonight several young couples understand that one's choices about giving birth are in fact a choice about parenting. Including information of reading a baby's body language in a childbirth education class helps these parents take a big step toward being the good moms and dads they want to be!

© HUG Your Baby 2016