PSYC 2450- Ch 5: Birth and the Newborn’s Readiness for Life
Childbirth and the Perinatal Environment
Perinatal Environment- refers to the environment surrounding birth
• Child birth is a three stage process
First Stage of Birth- the period of the birth process lasting from the first regular uterine
contractions until the cervix is fully dilated.
Second Stage of Birth- the period of the birth process during which the fetus moves
through the birth canal and emerges from the mother’s body (also called delivery)
Third Stage of Birth- expulsion of the placenta (afterbirth)
Apgar Test- used to assess the newborn’s heart rate, respiration, colour, muscle tone and
reflexes- used to gauge perinatal stress and to determine whether a neonate requires
immediate medical assistance.
Neonatal BehaviouralAssessment Scale (NBAS)- a test that assesses the neonate’s
neurological integrity and responsiveness to environmental stimuli.
• Childbirth practices vary widely across cultures
Natural and Prepared Childbirth- each involve a delivery in which physical and
psychological preparations for the birth are stressed and medical assistance is minimized.
• Now common in Western societies
• Can lessen maternal stress
• Home births are just as safe as hospital births as long as the mother is attended by
a midwife or doctor.
Cesarean Section- a surgical delivery of a baby through an incision made in the mother’s
abdomen or uterus.
The Social Environment Surrounding Birth-
Emotional Bonding- the 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.
• Mother may feel exhilarated
• Father may be engrossed with newborns- support of fathers during pregnancy &
childbirth makes a birth experience easier on the mother.
• Lack of support from the father can contribute to post partum depression.
Postpartum Depression- strong feelings of sadness, resentment, and despair that may
appear shortly after childbirth and can linger for months. (for mothers)
Engrossment- paternal analogue of maternal emotional bonding; used to describe
fathers’fascination with their neonates, including their desire to touch, hold, caress and
talk to the newborn baby.
Anoxia- a lack of sufficient oxygen to the brain; may result in neurological damage or
death • Happens to 1% of children- usually no long term effects.
• Children with mild anoxia are often irritable at birth & may score below average
for the first three years of their life