What *do* babies want?

NaBloPoMo – Day 26
What Babies WantWelcome to November’s Carnival of Breastfeeding sponsored by The Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog. This month we are reviewing books and videos that have to do with breastfeeding and/or parenting. Perhaps this will give you some gift ideas for people on your holiday shopping list. I’ve chosen to review the DVD “What Babies Want.”

What Babies Want – An Exploration of the Consciousness of Infants,” a film by Debby Takikawa and narrated by Noah Wyle (of ER fame), is an amazing and eye-opening movie that explores the “profoundly important and sacred opportunity we have in bringing children into the world.” The movie takes a look at the birth experience and postpartum period through the eyes of the infant. It reinforces what we should already know – babies have feelings and can experience both pleasure and pain right from the start. “The experiences we have at our births sets up our perceptive neurology and influences the way we perceive the events of our lives. These early interactions shape our human ability to learn, to trust, and to develop relationships as we grow older.”

We often think about birth in terms of what would be best for the mother. What can be done to make mom most comfortable and minimize her discomfort? But what about the baby? We also need to consider the baby’s best interests and his/her wants and needs. The things that babies find soothing and calming during and following birth include their mother’s touch, voice, breast, soft lighting and soothing sounds. While the things that can cause them fear and/or pain are bright lights, loud noises, machines, and especially being taken away from mom and dad (to a nursery, etc.) and being denied crucial bonding time.

The film contains stories and remarkable personal experiences from infants, children and adults. Noah Wyle and his wife Tracy also share their son’s birth and postpartum experiences and their passion for “deeper understanding and awareness of what a baby truly is.”

Even though I saw this movie a couple of years ago, many of the images I saw and things that I observed stick with me still today. I remember fighting back the tears when I saw newborns in hospital warming beds, crying out for human contact. I also recall shedding tears when seeing an adult who had a particularly difficult birth when she was born, relive her birth experience and find ways to heal from it and move on. I believe we as a society underestimate just how powerful our birth experience is and how it can shape who we are for the rest of our lives. This movie really emphasizes that point. It made me want to explore the experience I had as a newborn (I was born via c-section, due to being frank breech, and kept away from my mom for several hours following the operation) and made me curious how that may have shaped who I am and the relationship I have with my mother today.

The good news is that there are ways of working through past negative experiences and healing and reestablishing bonds that may not have been formed after birth.

What babies want is to be loved, to be nurtured and protected right from the very beginning. They want to know they are secure and that they are wanted. Babies deserve to have a peaceful start in the world. In the case where a birth isn’t as peaceful as the parents would like, it’s important for them to be aware of that experience, because it will help shape who this little person becomes. If bonding the baby and mother was missed at birth, it can be picked up later in life. Of course the sooner, the better.

I strongly feel that this movie should be required viewing in childbirth classes because it offers such a unique perspective to soon-to-be parents by offering a baby’s eye view of what their own baby may experience during birth and how that experience can affect their baby for the rest of his/her life.

You can read more about the movie, including a detailed synopsis, here. As far as I can tell, What Babies Want is not available for rent on Netflix, but you can purchase your own copy here (it would make a great gift for an expectant mommy) or arrange for a screening among friends.


There are many other participants in this month’s carnival. Please take a moment to check out some of their reviews. (More links will be added tonight.)

9 thoughts on “What *do* babies want?”

  1. I’d love to see that film. It sounds really interesting. I agree that the immediate bonding time after birth is very important, and I feel very fortunate that I was able to have that with both of my children. Also have to add that there is a hormone surge experienced only with unmedicated births that assists in bonding. However, despite all that, I also believe that the bonding throughout the first year and beyond is more important than the first moments.

  2. I so want to see this — I had heard about it and forgot, so thanks for reminding me. My birth didn’t go exactly as I wanted, but we were able to remain peaceful throughout, birth naturally, and snuggle after. I think this movie will inspire me again for any future births to look out for my baby’s best interests. Thanks!

  3. I hadn’t heard of this video before. My daughter was taken from us shortly after birth because of a possible infection and we had to fight to have her in my room to nurse – and no more than an hour at a time, then – and she spent the rest of the time in the NICU. It was a traumatic time but my belief in the importance of bonding made me fight for all of the one-on-one time we could get. I would love to get the NICU nurses to watch it; they seemed more focussed on medical solutions than natural aids.

  4. I watched this video about 10 days before my daughter was born. I cried through most of it, it was so beautiful and touching. I agree that it should be required watching in birth preparation classes….

  5. Wow! What a timely post! I would LOVE to see “What Babies Want.” I am getting really excited about the upcoming screening of the documentary “The Business of Being Born” here in my hometown. Have you seen it yet? I hear it is really good. I’m going to make an effort to see both these films. Great review. 🙂

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