Why do babies cry when they are born? Is it a reflex instinct? Maybe they liked it better in mommy’s tummy? Are they scared?
As an expecting parent, It may seem like a trivial question among the long list of more important concerns you may be having. We know that hearing a baby’s first cry is important, and we just know that it’s a good thing. But the reason why it happens often gets overlooked.
Read on in case you are curious to know why.
Scientific studies show that babies cry simply because of how humans have evolved.
Compared to other earthling species, human babies are among the most helpless. They cannot feed unless they are given food, they cannot move anywhere unless they are carried; they are completely dependent on their mothers.
Babies come into the world equipped with only a few basic reflexes and instincts for survival, such as the rooting reflex, sucking reflex, moro or startle reflex, and of course, crying — newborns will instinctively call out for their mothers when they leave her womb, as a basic function for surviving.
Activating the Lungs
Inside the womb, your baby is submerged in amniotic fluid; her lungs haven’t yet functioned. She breathes through her umbilical cord, which delivers oxygen from your blood cells straight to her own.
After birth, her lungs will kick-start into action, expanding and taking in oxygen, expelling all the mucus and amniotic fluid that is left inside her lungs, throat, and nose. Her lungs are jolted into action and crying is just her natural response to all that sudden activity, a string of complex processes happening all at once.
First Attempts at Communication
Crying is the first method with which your baby communicates all her needs and emotions. Later on as she learns other ways to communicate (such as laughing and even sulking) she will cry only for certain emotions, like feeling discomfort or sad.
After birth, your baby may be startled at the sudden change of environment. After all, she just came out of a familiar, warm, dark, and wet place into this weird, cold, dry, and bright room full of people she doesn’t know. Imagine all the cramps she must be feeling after crawling out of a ten-centimeter wide tunnel! Imagine the discomfort she may want to communicate to you.
What if Your Baby Doesn’t Cry After Birth?
Your doctor will go through a specific procedure if your baby does not cry after birth.
In the old days your doctor would give her a light smacking in the behind (or back) until she cries. These days the method is a little more forgiving: your doctor would apply a light massage or back scrub with a warm towel until she cries. Nevertheless, your birthing team will also suction out all amniotic fluid and mucus from your baby’s mouth and nose cavities.
Although it is reassuring to hear your baby cry during birth, and that it typically means their respiratory systems are working perfectly, you shouldn’t be distressed if your baby doesn’t cry. Most of the time, this will result in nothing serious.
Carley Mendes, a registered holistic nutritionist, childbirth educator, says that a lack of crying in some babies can be simply because of "their unique disposition." Dr Salli Tazuke of the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine seems to agree and says that "some babies are more sensitive, or more irritable, and cry a lot more than others”.
So don’t you panic, your baby might just still be needing a little more time adjusting to this world. You will definitely get your fair share of her crying later on. You should enjoy your last quiet days. Also important is to enjoy your sleep while you still can!
So the Answer to the Question is…
As of now, we can’t quite put our finger on the exact reason why a baby cries when they are born. It could be one of the reasons stated above; it could be all of them. It could even be none of them! Science can only take us so far, and your baby most likely won’t be able to tell you why, either.
One thing we can be certain of is that your baby’s crying — and how you respond to it — will become the fundamental building blocks of your relationship with your baby, which starts the moment your she comes into the world, and into your life.
How about you? Do you have any stories about your baby’s crying? Or maybe a story your friend or relative told you about theirs? Please share them with us below, and share this article to someone you know who is expecting a baby.