Monday, May 17, 2010

Bonding Through Bathing & Dr. Sears Testimonial

Long and intensive contact with the mother after birth (skin-on-skin contact, such as breastfeeding), stroking, the gentle sound of her voice, and warmth initiates bonding with the newborn, while comforting and promoting security.  Bath time can also be a special bonding time for parents with their baby, and one in which dads can take an active role!

Nearly 20 years ago, midwives in the Netherlands discovered that a child that is placed (back) in surroundings that simulate the warm, safe and secure womb, find it easier to cope with the traumas of being born and all the unfamiliar dangers of their new world.

1.        All-round warmth
In the womb the child is surrounded by the warmth of amniotic fluid at body temperature, 98.6 degrees. In its new environment the baby has to get used to an ambient temperature of approx. 69.8 degrees (room temperature). Bathing in a traditional bath is an extremely traumatic experience for a baby because it is literally exposed to a room temperature it is not yet accustomed to. Their back might be nice and warm in the water, but their tummy is extremely sensitive, cold and overstretched.

2.        Fetal position
Everyone, young or old, will curl up into a ball if they feel insecure or unwell. That not only creates a sense of safety, it also reduces the tension on the tummy muscles. It is a commonly known fact, after all, that persistent stress leads to stomach and intestinal problems. Bowel movements are also easier in a crouched position. This applies equally, if not more so, to newborn babies, whose metabolic rate has yet to get started. Placing a baby in a fetal position reduces the tension on their tummy and relieves indigestion and gas.

3.        Upward pressure
For nine months the baby developed in a practically weightless environment, carried by the amniotic that surrounds it. The baby is not familiar with gravity as we know it. At birth the baby suddenly experiences the full force of gravity and loses much of their motor abilities, until they can master them again. Putting a baby in a position that (temporarily) restores this upward pressure will stimulate the baby’s motor development as they will once again have the freedom to test their own limits.

4.        Contact with the environment
Your baby is used to a clearly defined environment.  In utero babies are always physically in contact with their environment; a small world. Suddenly that’s all changed; gone are the boundaries and certainties. The world is suddenly so big and insecure. Restoring those boundaries will give the baby a sense of security and self-confidence. That is why swaddling and slings have such a calming effect on babies. They feel contact with their environment.

Originating in professional child care, there was an increasing demand for a bath that could offer a baby the ideal situation set out above. Besides breastfeeding, bathing is an ideal opportunity for intensive parent-baby contact. 

A long practical study (1 year) in the Canisius Wilhemina hospital in Nijmegen (Netherlands) resulted in the development of a bucket- shaped bath that meets all the womb-like criteria: the TummyTub!

Here’s what America’s favorite pediatrician has to say about it:

Traditional bathing procedures can threaten a young infant's security.  Then baby screams and the bather becomes tense and uncomfortable, too.  The Tummy Tub actually relaxes baby because of the way it supports and contains baby in a flexed position- something familiar from the womb.  Baby is calm and so is the bather.  Bath time can be a soothing ritual that enhances bonding instead of a battle.
Dr. William Sears, M.D. & Martha Sears, R.N.

Bathing your baby should be an interactive time to play gently, talk and sing, and watch your baby relax.  Unfortunately, in the standard tub, babies are uncomfortable and cold, and therefore bonding time is skipped in lieu of a quick wash.  The TummyTub provides the solution to gain valuable bonding time with your infant and create a cherished family routine.  

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