Most babies will emerge into this world with one mighty squeal.
And this is probably the one – and only time you will feel ecstatic to hear your baby cry. Because a baby’s first cry that appears within a few seconds post-delivery is a signal of the successful transition from the life inside the womb to the real world.
It is truly a moment of relief for the medical team in the delivery room and, of course, for the new mother.
Although not all babies cry upon delivery, those who do – have some pretty compelling reasons!
So, read on to discover five reasons why babies cry after birth.
Why Do Babies Cry When They Are Delivered?
The primary reason why babies cry upon delivery is to open up their scrunched-up lungs and take their first breath. To accomplish this challenge they will need to exert some pressure to force the fluid out of their lungs. Hence the first breath may appear more like a grasp followed by a cry. Furthermore, as they leave the warm, dark, and familiar environment – they enter a cold, brightly lit room full of people and noises they aren’t familiar with. Also, they are exhausted and often traumatized by the long delivery process. Not to mention their steady flow of nutrients has been abruptly cut off.
In other words, their whole world just turned upside down, so no wonder they may appear a bit cranky at first!
The Importance Of First Cry
Have you ever wondered how babies breathe while they are in the womb?
After all, they are submerged in amniotic fluid that, in fact, fills their lungs and airways! Which – by the way, also prevents them from drowning.
Well, the truth is, they cannot inhale air in the womb.
Naturally, they receive the oxygen through the placenta from their mother’s oxygen-rich blood. And via the same route, they remove carbon dioxide.
Now, as soon as they are born, babies will have to kick-start their lungs and rely on them to breathe the air.
And here comes the core value of the first cry.
With their first breath, babies need to expel the mucus and amniotic fluid that is still present and expand the lungs, which are collapsed in the womb.
But, as you can imagine, it is a hard – and painful job for a newborn.
It requires a forceful inhalation to open rigid lungs and push the fluid out.
So, actually, this first breath comes out as a cry – their first survival reflex. This first cry prepares the respiratory system for oxygenation – so essential for a baby’s survival outside the womb!
The breathing process becomes more natural as the lungs expand with each subsequent breath.
So to sum it up – this first cry is so important because it is the most effective way for a newborn to start breathing.
Sometimes, it is necessary to suction the baby’s mouth and nose to remove the fluid and aid their first breathing effort. This routine is typically carried out when the baby struggles and shows signs of respiratory disease.
Also, if the baby doesn’t cry immediately after delivery the doctor will take steps to stimulate the baby to cry.
How Do A Newborn’s Lungs Work?
Stimulation of First Cry
You may have seen in old movies where the doctor slapped a baby’s bottom while holding it upside down. This was an encouragement for the baby to start breathing.
You may be happy to hear that this old-fashion technique is no longer practised. Such aggressive stimulation isn’t really necessary nor safe for the baby.
There is a more modern way to stimulate the first breath. Exposure to air and vigorous rubbing their back with towels usually do the trick!
Additionally, wiping the baby clean with a towel serves other crucial purposes.
It keeps them warm as they come out of the womb wet and tend to quickly lose their heat. And, of course, the baby is thoroughly cleaned of blood, vernix, and sometimes even meconium.
So, without further ado, let’s get to it!
Here’re the 5 Reasons Why Babies Cry When They Are Delivered
1. So They Can Take First Breath
As I mentioned above. Babies cry to force amniotic fluid out of their lungs that weren’t expelled during birth. So they can fill them with air and breathe. As this requires more force and pressure for the first breath – they will often cry as they exhale.
2. They Are Cold
During their life inside the womb, babies are protected from temperature changes and insulated by amniotic fluid.
It had a constant, slightly higher than the typical body temperature – of 37.6°C (99.7°F). And keeps babies warm.
Suddenly they are out in the much colder delivery room. Furthermore, they need to breathe the cold air to survive.
That’s why right after delivery, babies are reunited with their mum, covered with a blanket for some much-needed skin-to-skin. This will not only keep them warm but will help with building their bond.
3. They are Tired and Bruised By The Whole Birth Process
Labour can be a real torture for babies too!
Birthing often takes many hours. And during the process, babies are being tossed around by contractions and eventually squeezed out through a very narrow birth canal.
This is not exactly a walk in the park, is it?
Not to mention their skull being squished in the process (which will hopefully come back to its natural shape within a few days post-delivery) …
4. They Are Hungry
Suddenly, babies are being cut off from the steady flow of nutrients.
Thankfully, they are equipped with natural rooting and sucking reflexes. So, soon after delivery, they will show the signs of hunger.
Therefore, it is common to offer the first feed to a newborn within the first hour after delivery.
5. They Are Scared and Distressed By The Change In the Environment
If you had spent nine months in total darkness, in a safe cocoon, and suddenly you were out, opened your eyes for the very first time, and saw the hostile world and bright lights in the delivery room, wouldn’t it scare you? Well, that’s babies reality!
And what about the strange smell and the impurities that make them sneeze straight away? They can also hear loud noises that are very harsh in contrast to the muted sounds they are used to. And where is the soothing and rhythmic sound of a mother’s heartbeat?
Moreover, they are being handled, poked, and touched by doctors and nurses. It is not pleasant at all.
In fact, all their senses are going through a rapid and abrupt change, which is very scary, so no wonder they cry!
Final Few Lines
There is no doubt, that the whole birthing experience is extremely difficult for the mom. But not only to her. It is rather traumatizing for the baby as well, although not many people think about it that way!
Right after birth, a baby undergoes tremendous changes to adapt to hostile life outside the womb.
And everything that they were familiar with so far becomes new, different, and really scary. Most importantly, babies will need to start breathing by themselves.
After the first few breaths, their lungs open up and breathing will become natural.
And once they get a few cuddles by their mom, all the crying will be gone.