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Chapter 5

PSYC 2450 Chapter Notes - Chapter 5: Active Child, Primitive Reflexes, Infant Respiratory Distress Syndrome

Course Code
PSYC 2450
Anneke Olthof

of 5
Chapter 5:
Childbirth and the perinatal environment
- Perinatal environment: environment surrounding birth; it includes influences such as
medications given to the mother during delivery, delivery practices and social environment
shortly after the baby is born
- Can affect well-being of the baby and the course of their development
The birth process
Childbirth has 3 stages (see figure 5.1 p.141)
1. First stage of labour: the period of the birth process lasting from the first regular uterine
contractions until the cervix is fully dilated (10-15 mins interval)
2. Second stage of labour: the period of the birth process during which the fetus moves
through the birth canal (cervix) and emerges from the mother’s body (delivery)
3. Third stage of labour: expulsion of the placenta (afterbirth; takes 5-10 mins)
The baby’s experience
- Fetuses stressed by birth; production of activating stress hormones is adaptive which helps
them to withstand oxygen deprivation by increasing their heart rate and flow of oxygenated
blood to the brain
The baby’s appearance
- Color bluish from oxygen deprivation during birth process
- Flattened nose due to passage through narrow cervix and birth canal, misshapen foreheads,
assortment of bumps and bruises
Assessing the baby’s condition
- Apgar test: A quick assessment of the newborn’s heart rate, respiration, colour, muscle tone,
and reflexes that is used to gauge perinatal stress and to determine whether a neonate requires
immediate medical assistance (range from 0-2; see table 5.1)
(A baby’s score on this can range from 0-10. If 7 or +, good physical condition. If 4 or ,
are in distress)
- Neonatal behavioral assessment scale (NBAS): a test that assesses a neonate’s neurological
integrity and responsiveness to environmental stimuli (more extensive
Labour and delivery medication
- Use to make the birth process easier. However, a strong dose of birth medications can have
some undesirable consequences
- Too much anesthesia= less sensible to uterine contractions and do not push effectively during
delivery (baby may have to be pulled from birth canal with obstetrical forceps- can cause
brain damage)
- Medication can cross the placenta and too much of it can make the baby lethargic and
Natural and prepared childbirth
Natural and prepared childbirth: each involves a delivery in which physical and psychological
preparations for the birth are stressed and medical assistance is minimized
- Cesarean section: surgical delivery of a baby through an incision made in the mother’s
abdomen and uterus
Home births
- Home deliveries= reduce the mother’s fear and offer maximum social support and use of
medications. Relaxed atmosphere: shorter labour and less medications used
- Alternative birth center: a hospital birthing room or other independent facility that provides
a homelike atmosphere for childbirth but still makes medical technology available
- Home births are just as safe as hospital deliveries, provided that the mother is healthy and is
attended by a competent doctor or midwife
The social environment surrounding birth
The mothers experience
- Emotional bounding: term used to describe the strong affectionate ties that parents may feel
toward their infant; some theorists believe that the strongest bonding occurs shortly after
birth, during a sensitive period (6-12 hours after birth)
- Study made by Klaus and Kennell
Postpartum depression: strong feelings of sadness resentment and despair that may appear
shortly after childbirth and can linger for months
o Maternity blues: passes within a matter of week or two, linked to hormonal changes and
stress associated with new responsibilities of parenthood. May affect 40-60 % of new
mothers and 10% more serious depressive reaction
o Philip Dunham; approach to lowering one contributor to postpartum depression, parenting
The father’s experience
- Engrossment: paternal analogue of maternal emotional bonding; term used to describe
father’s fascination with their neonates, including their desire to touch, hold, caress and talk
to the newborn baby
Birth complications
1. Anoxia
- Anoxia: a lack of sufficient oxygen to the brain; may result in neurological damage or death
(umbilical cord become tangled during birth, placenta separates prematurely and if sedatives
given to the mother cross placental barrier and interfere with breathing)
- Breach birth: a delivery in which the fetus emerges feet first or buttocks first rather than
head first (often delivered by cesarean to avoid anoxia)
- RH factor: a blood protein hat when present in a fetus but not the mother can cause the
mother to produce antibodies. These antibodies may then attack the red blood cells of
subsequent fetuses who have the protein in their blood
2. Low birth weight
Two types:
1. Preterm infants: infants born more than 3 weeks before their normal due date
- Small in size, but body weights is appropriate for the amount of time they spent in
2. Small-for-date (or small for gestational-age) babies: infants whose birth weight is far
below normal, even when born close to their normal due date
o Greater risk of serious complications: die, brain damage, small in stature throughout
childhood or poor IQ
o Malformed, undernourished or abnormal
Low birth weight= mothers who smoke, drink a lot, use drugs, malnourished or stress
Short-term consequences of low birth weight
- 40-50% of the babies who weigh less than 1000 g die at birth or shortly after
- Brain development and neural pattern formation affected
- Preterm or low birth weight; problem is difficulty breathing. Not a lot of surfactin; coats the
lungs during the last 3-4 weeks of pregnancy to prevent collapsing
- Respiratory distress syndrome: as serious condition (hyaline membrane disease) in which a
preterm infant breathes very irregularly and is at risk of dying
- Preterm infants often spend their first few weeks of like in heated isolettes; maintain body
- Preterm infants slow to initial social interactions and often respond to parents bids for
attention by looking away
- Long-term effects of preterm or low birth weight status is related to severity of abnormality
Interventions for preterm infants
- Today, parents are encouraged to visit their child often in the hospital and to S
- Kangaroo mother care; yielded positive mental gains for the infants and fostered more
optimal parenting
Long-term consequences of low birth weight
- Depends on environment in which they are raised
- Remain small, emotional problems and deficits in intellectual performance and academic
Reproductive risk and capacity for recovery
- Baby blinded by rubella = never regain his or her sight
- Mentally retarted due to fetal alcohol syndrome or anoxia will always be mentally retarted
- Werner and Smith follow development of babies to evaluate complications
Applying developmental themes to birth
1. Active child: infants need to have all systems functioning independently of the mother
2. Nature and nurture interactions: hard to identify any aspects of birth that did not involve the
reciprocal interactions of nature and nurture on development (birth process)
3. Qualitative and quantitative changes: labour, birth and after birth