Does birth affect baby's temperment?

Avatar for hfrazey
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Does birth affect baby's temperment?
Thu, 03-27-2003 - 7:22am
Guess I'll start :-) Do you think that birthing style affects baby's temperment in a significant way? I was reading some posts on another board by moms who had unmed, meditative births and they said their babies were calm and alert as newborns (not just right after birth) and rarely cried. Do you think medicated births lead to colicy, fussy babies? Or could it be that moms who have unmed births where they feel positive about the outcome are more confident, calm parents and that's what leads to the calmer babies? Or did these unmed, meditative moms just get lucky in the infant temperment department? :-)

Would love to hear your thoughts!


Avatar for my2marchmen
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Registered: 03-27-2003
Thu, 03-27-2003 - 10:23am
I think they just got lucky!

There's probably no real way to tell for sure but I can honestly say that my 1st, Dustin (Born in the Hospital with Pitocin Augmentation but no pain meds although I would venture to say that his Birth happened before he was ready. My CNM had stripped my membranes twice. Once at my 37 week appt & again at my 38 week appt & my water broke 2 days later with nothing much to show for in the way of contractions (One of the main reasons I think my body or Dustin just wasn't ready) was THE easiest baby, ever. He rarely cried & when he did it was more of a fuss that never fully reached the point of being called crying. & then that only happened when he was starting to get hungry & man the kid was on a clock, every 3-3.5 hours & as he got older, every 4-4.5 hours. He slept through the night at 8 weeks & was just an overall extremely easy-going, happy baby. I was loving life & wondering why people considered parenting soooo hard! lol

Then I had Aidan. Ohhhh, my HB baby that was born ever so gently into the hands of his father in a dimly-lit room & never left my side for a minute. lol He was a challenge from the beggining. He came out screaming & really hasn't stopped since. He is a redhead in every sense of the word. AND his name means Fire!! lol God-Bless him, he does take after his Mother but I still wonder where I got this child from! LMAO He is as stubborn as they come & knows exactly what he wants. As a newborn, I would not have ever described him as calm although he was quite alert. He nursed literally every hour & that continued until he was about 6-7 months old. He weaned when he hit 20 months & I think had I not been pregnant & my milk supply had not diminished so dramatically, he would probably still be nursing.

Soooo, for me it doesn't hold true but I have heard that Water Birthed babies are much more calm & mellow than their land-birthed counterparts so what do you think we're planning on this time? :)

Jenn :)

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Thu, 03-27-2003 - 1:21pm
I think it probably has more to do with the parenting style than the moment of birth, although I think that a baby's temperment probably CAN be affected by any event in his life, including birth.

I think that women who approach birth from a natural, unmedicated, meditative approach are probably more likely to approach parenting the same way. I know my son is ALWAYS calmer when I make an effort to be calmer. When he gets really bad, it's easy to become frustrated and I notice he become more frustrated with my frustrations. The minute I choose to be calm, so does he. I don't think THAT is coincidence.



iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Thu, 03-27-2003 - 2:18pm
My experiences would lead me to say Yes, birth can effect the babies temperment. My first birth was a very traumatic experience for both of us and she was always ( still is) a very intense baby/child.As a baby we had alot of crying etc........ a very unsettled baby.

My next 3 babies were medicated hospital births and all have similiar temperments as babies/children.Not particularly fussy as babies at all and fairly even keeled kids.My next 2 children were born at home, waterbirths. No comparing the traquility they posess as babies and my older one even as a 2yo.They both cried a little at birth but as babies ( the second one is only a week old) they are very serene.I can POSSIBLY attribute some of the changes over the years to changes in parenting style, but I have to say that thier births had alot to do with it all.........
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 03-27-2003 - 3:04pm
I think it can definitely have an impact, though I think genetics have a bigger one. But I dont think its a med/no med issue so much as other factors -- a kid who was mispositioned and had a hard squeeze getting out vs a kid who slid out in 1 push, say. Or one who had to deal with more than a day of hard contrax vs a few hours. All those hormonal issues must affect them.

In my own experience, I had an extended pushing stage with a baby I suspect was not truly posterior but clearly not positioned well and he had terrible colic from 3 weeks until 6 months. As in 3+ hours of inconsolable screaming every night. When I described this to my new midwife, she said this was classic for babies with that kind of long pushing experience. Makes sense to me, but who knows.


iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Thu, 03-27-2003 - 3:54pm
I think the baby's personality is set before birth. Some babies are calm, some are fussy. Yes, a stressed out Mom or a traumatic birth might change the way baby behaves, but I think a lot of it is hard-wired.

I had an unmedicated, meditative birth, and my DD (who was calm at birth, held her head up to look around before nursing) is an active, noisy, lively kid. She was as a newborn, too. I think that's just the way she is.

If the birth had been traumatic, or if I'd been under inordinate amounts of stress, she's the kind of kid who would've reacted to it. She'd have been fussier, I'm sure. But, having an unmed, calm birth will not guarantee you an "easy" baby.

Beth (edd 4/17 with #2)

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Registered: 04-06-2003
Mon, 04-07-2003 - 1:21am
I would say yes. But I agree genetics must have a major influence on temperament also. More important I think is the effect of birthing styles on the long-term health of the child. While there have been few studies, there have been some, take for example the studies of teenage suicides and birth data. The study of 52 adolescent suicides by Lee Salk in NY found one of the main risk factors for committing suicide during adolescence was resuscitation at birth. Resuscitation is most often needed in hospital settings after medicated births when the cord is clamped immediately. There is also the Swedish study which compared method of suicide with birth data and found suicides involving asphyxiation were closely linked with asphyxiation at birth; suicides by violent mechanical means were associated with mechanical birth trauma. Then there is the drug addiction study. This study found that if a mother had been given certain pain killers during labor, her child had a higher risk of becoming drug-addicted in adolescence.

One of the most dangerous of practices is the premature cutting of the cord, a practice that is standard operating procedure in US hospitals despite the fact there is no evidence to support it. This causes the baby to go into shock, effectively deprives it of 30 percent of its blood volume and requires babies to be resuscitated. Premature cutting of the cord causes brains cells to die. These brain cells will never be replaced. So the child is left brain-damaged. This brain damage may not be apparent, but the child will never reach its full potential because of this. The research of William F Windle on modern birth practices on monkeys showed the effects of anesthetics administered during labor and the premature cutting of the cord. In every case the baby monkeys could not get their breath and had to be resuscitated. In the wild this never happens and almost immediately the little monkeys are able to cling to their mother. The monkeys in Windle's study were totally helpless. They could not cling to their mothers and their mother's effected by the drugs could not help them. It took some two to three weeks to be able to get their limbs under them and to begin some preliminary sensorimotor learning. He performed autopsies on some of the monkeys and found severe brain lesions from oxygen deprivation in every case. The monkeys he managed to keep alive until they matured and appeared normal had the same legions found at birth. The damage was irreparable. Windle also autopsied human babies who had died following births with anesthetics, low Apgar scores and premature cutting of the cord. They had the same brain lesions. Children with similar birth histories that had died at age three and four were also studied and were found to have the same lesions on their brains too.

On a much less scientific note, my DD attends a Waldorf kindergarten and her teacher did a simple study of the home birth vs hospital birthed children in the class. It is about 50:50. She has noticed quite a difference in behavior in the home birthed children vs the ones born in hospital. There were exceptions, for example some hospital birthed children, that were AP'ed, ie worn in slings, slept with their mother and were nursed into late toddlerhood or early childhood who are much more like their home birthed peers. But generally the children who were home birthed, AP'ed, are exposed to minimal tv and no video games are more loving and less violent. Diet also seems to affect their behavior. The children that generally have healthy, sugar-free diets are also calmer.

Finally, there appears to be a strong correlation between the endocrine system and our immune system and what happens in utero and during birth sets the level for life. The hormonal level is set at birth and if it is set too low or too high this will create a lifelong hormonal imbalance.

Food for thought maybe?


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