Bath rape


Yes, you read that right.

No, I’m not talking about sexual assault in the tub.

I’m talking about the latest in an endless parade of reasons that natural childbirth advocates can feel victimized.

You may recall the horror of hatting, wherein the act of putting a knit hat on a newborn baby purportedly can precipitate a maternal hemorrhage or affect a baby’s health for the rest of his life.

But whining about your baby’s hat is so 2012. Today’s NCB advocates are modeling the latest in victimology, as explained on CafeMom:

Almost to years after i gave birth, I still find myself upset at the hospital we were at…

They gave my twins their first bath without even telling me. It was the day after they were born, the nurse told me to get up and walk and the babies would sleep in the nursery. I was gone for about 20 minutes and when I came back, they brought the babies back and said they had their first bath… I feel like they took something away from me.

I never got a warning. At the time i kept it in and now I’m sorry I did because to this day, it still hurts. ;(

Despite all the talk of empowerment, the role of victim is hallowed in natural childbirth advocacy, and it is inextricable from the NCB penchant for finding new reasons to whine. Just like Bridezillas, Birthzillas are continually searching for ever more trivial reasons to be outraged that their “special day” was ruined.

Indeed, there is an entire NCB website devoted to whining about victimization. It’s called My OB Said What??!! and it is seemingly endless parade of whining from women whose had their feelings hurt when their providers told them things they didn’t want to hear, on the false presumption that these were adults mature enough to deal with disappointment. The providers didn’t understand that in NCB world disappointment=victimization, being forced to address reality=victimization, getting only a healthy baby but having diminished bragging rights=victimization.

For a movement that claims to be about empowering women, there are an amazing amount of women so fragile that two years later they are complaining that they didn’t get to give the baby his or her first bath.

But then natural childbirth advocacy was never about birth, and certainly never about the baby. It’s about the way that women want to see themselves, and apparently a lot of NCB advocates want to see themselves as victims.


The phrase “bath rape” was coined by a member of the Fed Up With Natural Childbirth Facebook group.

189 Responses to “Bath rape”

  1. Grace
    September 1, 2013 at 1:00 am #

    Wow, I remember that cafemom thread and this woman’s reply. You are totally distorting it. I’m not even sure that woman was at all a natural birth advocate. She wasn’t saying how the babies needed skin-to-skin or any other (viable) argument against unnecessary baths. She certainly never called it any kind of rape. She just wanted to be there to record the baby’s bath and was sad that she didn’t. This has about as much to do with your “cause” as does a mom who is disappointment she didn’t see her baby roll over for the first time because she was out of the room. She just expressed regular disappointment at not being there for a first. You are grasping at wild straws, trolling on cafemom for a random statement that you can extrapolate into ideas that aren’t even being presented.

    • Bombshellrisa
      September 1, 2013 at 1:07 am #

      Regular disappointment doesn’t last two years, a two years where there are surely other, more exciting firsts than a bath.

  2. Yves
    July 17, 2013 at 12:25 pm #

    I’m an RN, during my maternity rotation in school, the nurses bathed the baby in the mother’s rooms and told her it was going to happen. The mother passively participated. While I think it’s ridiculous to be mad that nurses gave your baby its “first” bath, the nurse could have told the mother beforehand or did it so she could watch.

  3. Denise D.
    July 17, 2013 at 11:14 am #

    Newborn babies are slimy, floppy and slippery, and after my 29 hour labour I was more than happy to have nurses experienced with holding the wee ones take my daughter and bring her back all clean and swaddled, then help me with my first attempts at nursing.
    I mean do people *want* to drop their babies on the floor? You’ve got many years of baths ahead of you, sometimes when both you and your kid are exhausted and cranky, but the bath can’t be skipped because your precious snowflake rolled in the grass and got dog poo in her hair, or she’s slipped in the rain and is covered in mud from eyes to knees.
    And has anybody else noticed that the people whinging about missing out on the 1st bath of their precious baybee are most likely to have an abundance of clean water at the temperature of their choice in which to bathe? Talk about a first world problem. Thanks again for the refreshing perspective, Dr. Amy.

  4. Elizabeth
    July 13, 2013 at 6:02 am #

    This happened to me as well after the birth of my first child. I had had a traumatic birth ending in an emergency csec. All I wanted was at least one special “first” with my new child but this did not enter into the minds of the medical staff who both bathed and fed my baby before I even got my first proper cuddle with him despite the fact neither of us was in any type of intensive care. Amy you must have a heart of stone not to understand how something like this can be important to a mother, especially a first time one. And no I am not a flower bearing hippy, I am a financial professional with three degrees and a husband in the medical field. I am glad my 2nd OB understood that birth is not just a physical process but also an emotional one and that while a mother and baby of sound body is the key goal, so should the soundness of the mother’s mind – and that means understanding her needs and treating them just as much as you treat her uterus!

  5. July 8, 2013 at 5:12 am #

    Glad to visit your blog. Thanks for this great post that you
    share to us

  6. Jess
    July 5, 2013 at 11:25 am #

    What an incredibly insensitive person you are, “doctor”. Glad I don’t have you as a physician. You are the kind of doctor who walks out of an exam room and bitches to her nurse about how the Mom you just chastised in the exam room is a wimp who needs to get over herself. You fuel bitterness within a community where mothers should be supporting one another rather than calling each other out to say how ridiculous their feelings are. Shame on you.

  7. Liv
    July 5, 2013 at 3:18 am #

    I’d be pretty annoyed if someone had given my twins their first bath…their birth was a car crash so I’d already missed out on their first couple of hours, their first feeds, first nappy change… it’s not ‘victim mentality’ it’s being upset at missing things that you think are important.

  8. Autumn
    July 4, 2013 at 8:51 pm #

    It isn’t about the bath itself, it’s about informed consent and disrespect.

  9. Catch
    July 2, 2013 at 7:20 pm #

    As a father, I really enjoyed Sebastian’s first bath. The little moments are the ones that I really cherish and remember. There are always two extremes with advocates on both ends. Amy Tuteur is at one end, mocking those at the other. I see irony in her looking for small things to complain about, while ultimately mocking those who search for small things to complain about. With two extremes, logic and and chance dictate the answer falls somewhere in the middle. Listen to the hippie dippie ****, listen to this nut job DR with a chip on her shoulder and keep in mind its safe to stay somewhere between the two. Sensationalist are usually wrong, just an advocate at one tip of the scale.

    • S
      July 2, 2013 at 7:28 pm #

      If you get that memorable first bath, great! If not, why dwell on it? Move on. It’s one small thing. Parenting produces so many wonderful moments.

      I’m curious as to why you find her opinion offensive and extreme.

      • Catch
        July 2, 2013 at 7:52 pm #

        She takes one women’s post and creates a stereo type “birthzilla” that could easily include an entire group of women who may be on the other side of the scale. Now that’s not the whole point, I don’t mean to focus on just this one blog “bath rape”. By no way, am I saying that CafeMom isnt missing a few screws, but there is so much irony in the two opposing sides to this whole argument, that Amy Tuteur comes off to me to be a bit of a joke. Ill take a stance in the middle and benefit from keeping my eyes open.

        • Amy Tuteur, MD
          July 2, 2013 at 8:02 pm #

          That’s the logical fallacy of false compromise:

          “if one does not understand a debate, it must be “fair” to split the difference, and agree on a compromise between the opinions. (But one side is very possibly wrong, and in any case one could simply suspend judgment.) Journalists often invoke this fallacy in the name of “balanced” coverage.

          “Some say the sun rises in the east, some say it rises in the west; the truth lies probably somewhere in between.”

          • Catch
            July 2, 2013 at 8:40 pm #

            Since this is a “blog” dont mind my language, but I just “lol’d” a little. So there must be only two options, two opinions. Choose the crazy or choose your opinion and to be damned if anyone thinks for themselves and ends up somewhere in between. You must hold yourself very high.

          • Amy Tuteur, MD
            July 2, 2013 at 8:48 pm #

            You seem to have completely missed the point. Sometimes one “extreme” is right and the other “extreme” is wrong and splitting the difference makes no sense.

            When vaccine rejectionists claim that vaccination causes autism, and doctors claim it doesn’t, vaccine rejectionists are wrong and doctors are right.

            You seem to think you are “wise” because you’d like to split the difference. I merely pointed out there is nothing wise about spouting a logical fallacy.

          • chris
            July 2, 2013 at 8:59 pm #

            With two opposing sides with very different opinions on entire topics, there are multiple questions to debate, so do you choose all of “Side A’s” answers, or all of “Side B’s”? Not all answers are white and black. You can try to make them, sure some are.

            Some may say a certain religion is true, other may say no god exists. Both could be wrong.

            I don’t believe I’m wise, I’m far to young to be wise. I just don’t believe everyone else is as wise as they think.

          • Dina
            July 3, 2013 at 2:29 pm #

            I don’t think Amy likes being called out. she is wrong when you talk about very different views on a topic. One side isn’t likley to be correct all the time.

        • S
          July 2, 2013 at 10:28 pm #

          No, you’ve got it backwards. She was using it an example of a larger trend. Women DO plan and expect a perfect childbirth. Even ones who don’t think they’re influenced by natural childbirth ideals do this (I’ve watched it happen). They are setting themselves up for disappointment. Childbirth is complicated, and unexpected things happen. Why do this? Why not be realistic and save yourself some anguish?

          For what it’s worth, i wasn’t completely comfortable with her picking apart this one woman’s post, but a concrete example makes for a clearer argument and more focused discussion.

      • KarenJJ
        July 2, 2013 at 9:20 pm #

        Me too. I posted pretty much the same thing lower down the thread. My husband gave our children their first bath. It was a lovely moment. If we hadn’t been able to get that for future kids, we’d flag it with the hospital as being something nice for new parents to do if they want to. We’d possibly be a little disappointed we’d missed out. I probably wouldn’t write about it on the internet.

        • Grace
          September 1, 2013 at 1:04 am #

          It was a tiny reply to a thread asking a question. It wasn’t even an original post. Dr. Amy decided to take it and blow it out of proportion. So, ridiculing this woman’s comment for being too whiny is as silly as ridiculing yours here for focusing too much on the lovely moment or having the audacity to flag it with the hospital.

  10. amanduh
    July 2, 2013 at 11:46 am #

    Birthzillas? Omg I love it. I had my first baby 11 months ago and have been active in baby forums since I was a month pregnant and read this victim nonsense constantly. I thought there was something wrong with ME because I’m not still dwelling on all of the things that didn’t go my way during delivery and because I’m grateful for the awesome job the doctor did on the emergency c section I didn’t want instead of crying over it in therapy sessions.

  11. Karen in SC
    July 1, 2013 at 1:56 pm #

    OT: Does the newborn smell really have a physiological effect on the mother? I’m not a doctor but I understand the feedback loops of our hormone systems (at least in a basic way). When the baby and placenta are expelled from the body, there is a huge hormonal change that begins the process of making milk. Loss mothers still get milk. I never really sniffed my baby but I still got milk.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa
      July 1, 2013 at 4:15 pm #

      I don’t know if it is the “newborn” smell, but remember Bill Cosby said they had babies because they liked the way they smell.

  12. Captain Obvious
    June 30, 2013 at 6:45 pm #

    What’s next diaper rape? Must, change, first, diaper. Cloth is better than store bought, but no diaper is best, right?

    • Kristie
      June 30, 2013 at 8:07 pm #

      Oh, I already know of a few moms that brought cloth to the hospital and were mortally offended by the nurses suggesting that the diapers in their postpartum room were theirs to take home.

    • Sue
      July 1, 2013 at 6:59 am #

      Diapers?? Only the softest organic spagnum moss will do!

  13. Mac Sherbert
    June 30, 2013 at 3:09 pm #

    There is something special about the first bath. I’m not saying is so special as to be upset 2 years later, but I can see where a hormonal mom might get upset. I’ve had 2 c-sections and each time the baby was cleaned up while I was in recovery. It’s always kind of irritated me, but not really because I missed the first bath. I just hate that everyone else in the family got to be there and I wasn’t!! I hate the pictures of the crying naked baby with everyone standing around smiling at it because I wanted to be holding it!! As more time has gone by I can see how in a way it’s nice that my husband had the special time with the baby. I think first bath at home is way more special!

  14. Lisa from NY
    June 30, 2013 at 2:09 pm #

    OT: Book “Mistakes Were Made” By Tavris and Aronson.

    When Marion Keech predicted world would end on Dec. 21 (1950s) and everyone should give away all their money and their possessions and wait for spaceship. Midnight Dec 21, no spaceship came, so at 4 am Keech said, “we were saved by faith”.

    As psychology student Festinger predicted, the people who gave away their possessions could not admit mistakes and went around telling people about miracle and even trying to convert them.

    Studies show that the harder people work for something — even if it doesn’t come true — the more people will hold by their beliefs.

    Leon Festinger gave a name to the energy for self-justification: Cognitive Dissonance. (Pages 12-15)

    Cognitive Dissonance is the same reason that women with bad outcomes from homebirths are inclined to defend their actions, to protect themselves.

  15. Ennis Demeter
    June 30, 2013 at 1:56 pm #

    I don’t even remember who bathed my baby at the hospital or when it happened. I count her first bath as the first one she had a home.

  16. PoopDoc
    June 30, 2013 at 11:26 am #

    When rotating in the well newborn nursery I was a serial bath rapist. I’d bathe babies left and right. And then *gasp* put cute little hats on their fuzzy wuzzy heads. And oddly, no one ever complained about it. The only time I ever got a complaint is when I under washed one. There was still some vernix in the creases and the mom got icked out.

    • Antigonos CNM
      June 30, 2013 at 1:49 pm #

      You obviously need rehab.

      • PoopDoc
        June 30, 2013 at 10:03 pm #

        Nah. I’m recovered. I now have my own kids to wash.

  17. Rebecca
    June 30, 2013 at 9:36 am #

    I can’t figure out why this mom is so bitter about missing the first bath, but so casual about spending the first hour of her C-section without anesthesia. 0_o

  18. Tumbling
    June 29, 2013 at 10:52 pm #

    I really can’t understand the point of the original post on CafeMom. Ok,, the mother had really wanted to give her baby its first bath, and she didn’t. So in response, she…. has been obsessing about that for two years? And moaning about the incident anonymously on websites? What’s the point?

    A more useful response to the incident would have been to wait a week (to calm down, make sure that she really did feel strongly about the bathing thing) and then to talk to the hospital administrators. Then she might influence hospital policy and so ensure that no other woman suffers her trauma at that hospital. Heck, she could make this one of her missions in life: engage in a campaign to all hospitals to check with the parent first about their child-bathing preferences. She could make a difference in this world (or at least, make a difference in the minor part of this world that cares deeply about first baths).

    Or she can continue to feel aggrieved and luxuriate in feeling victimized. Obviously this last option is her choice, but really, I can’t fathom picking that.

  19. Rose
    June 29, 2013 at 9:51 pm #

    Well it’s nice to see you are at least concerned about the baby after it is born, Dr Amy. After all, if it was still in the womb you’d celebrate its dismemberment in the name of “choice.”

    • KumquatWriter
      June 29, 2013 at 10:07 pm #

      Anti-choice threadjacking troll!

      As a woman who chose death for her own much loved son, i ask that you read this essay. And perhaps try to find a forum, site or topic that is relevant.

      • MIchelllejo
        June 30, 2013 at 2:29 pm #

        This is not an even-handed argument. You can be pro-life and still totally understand and possibly do what KumquatWriter did.

        Pro-life in its normal definition is about not aborting a child for the convenience of the mother. I have an ardently pro-life sister, who had a late term abortion for a baby with Anencephalus; a baby who would have likely never made it to birth and had no chance of living after birth.

        Having said that, I think Rose’s comment was totally out of place.


        • Dr Kitty
          June 30, 2013 at 3:31 pm #

          If you believe that there are ANY situations (no matter how rare) where terminating a pregnancy is an appropriate option, then you are “pro-choice” for women in those particular situations and “anti-choice” for women in every other situation.

          I can respect the moral consistency of the Catholic Church on abortion, even if, personally, I find it repugnant. If one believes abortion is wrong, it is ALWAYS wrong. If you can think of situations in which it is acceptable, well then, you’re just haggling

          If you believe there are situations in which abortion can be the best option, you aren’t “pro-life”, you are “pro-choice”, but with a different idea of when that choice is appropriate to the majority of those who use that label.

          • Hannah
            June 30, 2013 at 6:16 pm #

            “Abortion,” as it is commonly understood, encompasses a variety of procedures and motivations. At one extreme you have administering synthetic oxytocin to a woman having a second trimester miscarriage, which in the Savita Halappanavar case has been characterised as an abortion, although I’d disagree with that characterisation. At the other extreme you have D&X or foeticide of a viable baby, in Great Britain and much of the US, up to 24 weeks for any reason whatsoever. Having said that disability, even what would be considered “severe” disability, wouldn’t be where I’d draw The Line.

            Even when ending post-utero life there are legal and moral variations. If you remove someone from life support (or artificial nutrition and hydration, in some places) having carefully considered it to be disproportionate to their prospects of satisfactory recovery, and having followed the correct procedures, that would be both legal and unremarkable. If you pull out their life support because you want their inheritance, that would be murder. If you stab someone with a knife, your, and indeed their, opinion of their quality of life would be irrelevant. When reasonable force is used in self defence all bets are considered to be off in most jurisdictions.

            I wouldn’t necessarily have posted it as a drive by comment in an entirely unrelated thread, but the underlying point of the OP isn’t entirely unreasonable, and I’ve often raised an eyebrow at this seeming inconsistency in philosophical approach, here.

          • Wren
            July 1, 2013 at 7:19 am #

            I don’t see it as at all inconsistent. A woman chooses an abortion? OK. Up to viability that is between the woman and her doctor, after that there are still situations in which I think it is OK (2 have been given here). A woman chooses to bring a child into this world? She should do so with little risk to the baby and should at a bare minimum have the information, actual facts, to make a choice knowing the risks of every option. If a woman chooses to give birth, that baby should have every chance he or she can be given.

          • Hannah
            July 1, 2013 at 3:05 pm #

            I think all babies should be brought into the world as safely as possible, I just don’t understand how some babies gain a different moral status at the point the mother decides she wants it (although as you point out, this can be subsequently revoked, in the right circumstances.) I don’t see how it’s morally fine for a mother to decide she can’t or won’t have a baby resulting in the death of said baby, but morally unacceptable for one to decide that she can care for the baby but, for whatever personal reason, can’t accept the loss of autonomy associated with certain medical treatments, resulting in a 99%+ chance of the baby being absolutely fine. Or that a baby dying because of their mother thinks they are doing the best thing by them by having an all natural homebirth: unacceptable, but if it’s because the mother has views about disability that don’t necessarily stand up to scrutiny: fine. I don’t see that it’s more worthy of judgement to decide you can only give so much of yourself but no further, than to decide you can’t give anything of yourself.

            My suspicion is that it’s all a fig leaf for the fact that some people don’t like having two fingers put up to them personally or professionally, and want the comfort of retributive judgement without having to worry about nasty things like moral consistency or the consequences thereof.

          • Dr Kitty
            July 1, 2013 at 3:28 pm #

            My personal feeling is that a woman’s right to bodily autonomy trumps any putative rights a foetus might have.

            My issue with NCB therefore is NOT that women are having UC and stunt births, because I believe they have every right to do so. My issue is that NCB has serious mission creep, where women are being LIED to about the risks of the choices they make, and are therefore being DENIED autonomy, because they are being denied truly informed consent.

            If you refuse a CS or whatever intervention and have signed the “Dead Baby Disclaimer”- that is on you. If you refuse intervention because you don’t believe the risks of refusal are real, that is a different matter.

          • Clarissa Darling
            July 1, 2013 at 12:28 am #

            As a Catholic (maybe not a very “good” one), I must say I do not respect the Church’s so called moral consistency. The Bible says “thou shalt not kill” yet, the Chruch has the concept of a “Just War”, the Church allows for self-defense, and allows for people with no hope of recovery beyond being kept alive by
            extraordinary means to be removed from life support.

            However, this same understanding cannot be
            extended by the Church to a woman whose pregnancy will result in her death or whose child has no hope of recovery and would have to be kept alive by extraordinary means after birth? This doesn’t seem very consistent or very fair to women at all. I have to believe that God is more compassionate than the Catholic hierarchy who proposes to speak for him in these cases.

            Self-defense is still homicide. Should people who oppose murder also be forced to oppose cases of self-defense on principal? If there are some cases where people can see the taking of a person’s life as morally justified and some cases where it is not, why are these nuances not allowed by either side when speaking about abortion?

            I don’t personally advocate for any legislation be passed to align with my inconsistent moral compass but, I don’t think it’s fair to say that everyone ought to just pick a side and stay there. If you ask me that is the problem with the current debate about abortion and many other controversial topics is that few people can see any shades of grey.

        • fiftyfifty1
          June 30, 2013 at 3:42 pm #

          Oh I see, as long as the abortion passes the Mlchellejo Approval Test it can be labeled a Pro-life Compatible Abortion. It’s kind of like the process that free range chickens go through in France in order to be able to wear the Label Rouge. Sure. Ok.

          • Michellejo
            July 1, 2013 at 2:38 am #

            No need to be rude. I was only putting forward an anecdote which shows that are vastly different reasons as to why women abort.

            What will you do if the law starts making this distinction? It’s not long in coming because I’m sure there are plenty of moms out there who would never abort a baby using the “their body, their choice” mantra, but see things completely differently when their baby is seriously deformed or incompatible with life. It’s not about their body anymore. It was the law who coined the terms “pro-life” and “pro-choice”, so there will be no problem coining some other terms representing the different causes that women choose to abort by.

          • Dr Kitty
            July 1, 2013 at 3:22 pm #

            “The Only Moral Abortion is My Abortion”
            When the Anti-Choice Choose
            By Joyce Arthur

            My point is, there are people who think of themselves as Pro Life, who, when it comes down to it, make choices they would deny to other women. The Anti Choice deem THEIR reasons to be more worthy, and that makes it OK for THEM to opt for abortion, but not for all those irresponsible women who just decide to end their pregnancy for selfish reasons or convenience.

            I have a problem with that.

      • Clarissa Darling
        July 1, 2013 at 12:38 am #

        I read your story and can’t imagine how difficult it was to go through that. I am sorry for your loss.

    • Captain Obvious
      June 30, 2013 at 10:10 am #

      Holy tangential thinking schizophrenic Joker, this post is on the wrong thread.

  20. Maura
    June 29, 2013 at 9:32 pm #

    I am grateful my child was able to be bathed. I spent 30 hours of labor trying to escape the grasp of a money hungry midwife. Started with a home birth, after I was threatening to call the police they agreed to let me go to hospital. Was unable to fire midwife – no one would help me. I’ll never forget after she left how SAFE I felt. The nurses quietly asked me if they were permitted to bathe the baby as she was covered with merconium and feces and the midwife directed them NOT TO !! I was so comforted and finally felt the baby was safe when they offered to do this. The midwife would rather my baby sit covered in toxic waste then keep her safe. Still suffering PTSD from this “wonderful birth experience”. Empowering – not! These midwives will often say whatever they need to to rope you in and once the labor starts, they turn into a completely difference person and then you and your baby are POWERLESS!

    • Lizzie Dee
      June 30, 2013 at 5:36 am #

      I cannot – or don’t want to – imagine the horror of that. And when you read what homebirth enthusiasts write, what they believe in, it seems to me that an experience like that is a high risk of homebirth, particularly with first time moms. Reassured for months that it will be lovely and manageable those who do not have easy births may well find themselves powerless and terrified in the hands of someone who is not keen on transferring. And who do you complain to, how do you complain, if you are told it is your “failure”? Home might feel safe in normal circumstances, but in the middle of an emergency it can seem a long way from help. I have had a few occasions when I have waited in anxious terror for an ambulance. Those minutes can feel very long and I have felt anything but safe.

      Don’t think I would want to tell Ina Mae I’d changed my mind about pain relief. That support soon turns to contempt.

  21. Bombshellrisa
    June 29, 2013 at 2:07 pm #

    Just realizing that the entire family was so busy gabbing with my sister in law after my nephew was born that we IGNORED my nephew’s first bath (given in the room, at the sink, by the wonderful nurse). My sister in law was eating her first meal in two days and talking about how happy she was, my parents were talking about the births of us kids, my brothers were texting people and I was listening to my sister in law. I guess we are BAD people and my nephew is going to grow up and rob banks. There was no hat that would fit his huge head, does that make up for what we put him through?

  22. Laura
    June 29, 2013 at 11:32 am #

    However, when I had to demand that the snotty-nosed, teenage-looking tech give me my baby because I HADN’T HELD HER YET, and she responded, “Well, she needs a bath,” and I replied, “but I haven’t even held her yet!” then we’re talking about a whole different story. And there was absolutely nothing wrong with my baby and she should’ve been given to me right away. But that’s a whole other story. It bugged me, sure, but didn’t traumatize me.

  23. Charlotte
    June 29, 2013 at 9:10 am #

    This finally explains the stupid policy at my hospital that bans baths for the first 6 hours of life. I had to hold my merconium-covered baby for six hours because the nurses wouldn’t let us do more than towel her off for reasons they said were related to breastfeeding, but maybe it was also because it’s trendy to complain that your baby got bathed after birth. They probably had complaints from the crunchy crowd.

    • me
      June 29, 2013 at 11:50 am #

      You would think they would have an exception for meconium covered babies (or at least make the “policy” optional). Logic – they’re doing it wrong.

    • rh1985
      June 29, 2013 at 4:25 pm #

      I would threaten to attempt to bathe the baby myself in the sink if they insisted on delaying a bath for a baby who clearly needed it. What a ridiculous policy!

    • amazonmom
      June 29, 2013 at 8:11 pm #

      My daughter was covered in mec after the c section, they bathed her right away. Usually we wait until transition is over but on parent request we would always bathe if possible.

  24. Stacy
    June 29, 2013 at 9:03 am #

    I gave my (homebirthed) son his first bath in the kitchen sink, in a half-awake exhausted stupor because he was covered with meconium he’d blown out all over himself 8 hours or so after he was born. Yea, that was a great little bonding moment. If a hospital nurse had volunteered to do that while I slept, more power to her.

    • Bombshellrisa
      June 29, 2013 at 10:09 am #

      Your birth attendants didn’t help? That is awful. Especially because you probably wanted to enjoy bathing your baby for the first time yourself, not have to scrub a poo covered baby while you try and stay awake.

  25. fiftyfifty1
    June 29, 2013 at 8:09 am #

    A real mother insists on licking her baby clean as other mammals do.

    • auntbea
      June 29, 2013 at 8:55 am #

      Oh God, hot tea! My nose! My nose!

    • T.
      June 29, 2013 at 3:23 pm #

      Bonus point for meconium-covered babies.

    • GiddyUpGo123
      June 29, 2013 at 5:57 pm #

      You know that’s really gross, but somewhere right now in someone’s woo-infested mind there’s a light bulb going off.

    • violinwidow
      June 29, 2013 at 9:41 pm #

      Yes, and then gnawing the umbilical cord off with her teeth. Unless it’s a lotus birth of course, Then the meconium must fall off by itself.

  26. Joy_F
    June 29, 2013 at 6:22 am #

    Mine son was born in Japan – where they bathe them every day. I had a c-section, so he was in the nursery and was probably bathed several times without my knowledge. I didn’t care. Of course I had a planned c-section due to complications with the cord, so maybe that blocked the bonding so I really just didn’t care who bathed him 🙂

    In all seriousness though, the idea of the perfect birth experience is just goofy. We can’t control or expect to control most events in our lives – why should birth be any different?

    • Lizzie Dee
      June 29, 2013 at 7:42 am #

      maybe that blocked the bonding

      Ah, there you have it, you see. In the eyes of the true believers, you had a CS, you were deprived of PROPER bonding, and you are, simply, not As Good A Mother.

      Me neither. But my children don’t seem to care that much – I am mother enough for them, if not for NCB.

  27. Expat in Germany
    June 29, 2013 at 5:42 am #

    newborn skin is so sensitive, so I figured, let the experts do it. If you want to do it yourself, speak up! early! In some cultures they wash the baby and give it a greasy coating, in others it is less greasy. (my hospital had a theory and it involved just water and no grease for as long as possible, oil later, at home, if the skin is dry and cracking in he creases) I don’t think there is any place where the recommendation is to let the baby develop a nice bloody, mucousy crust.

    • Certified Hamster Midwife
      June 29, 2013 at 1:39 pm #

      Yes, there is such a place: “baby-friendly” hospitals. Poo crust is optional.

  28. R T
    June 29, 2013 at 3:45 am #

    I would have been really sad if they gave my baby his first bath without me! I asked the nurse to come and teach my husband how to give him first bath. It was so sweet watching my husband learn to hold his son and not be so nervous to touch him. It was a very special moment! I have tons of pictures! I will never forget it. The nurse dimmed the lights and brought in a warming lamp. I put on some soft music and in the soft, golden lighting, I watched my husband wash and study every part of his tiny son. I don’t think I would care with our next child, but with this one it was very important to me. We went through so much to have him so every single little thing has meant the world to us. I don’t know if I would still be sad years later, but maybe I would. When I was pregnant I daydreamed about it and it was even more special in real life.

    • Wren
      June 29, 2013 at 4:06 pm #

      It took a lot to have my first and I kind of get what you mean, but would that bath really have been less special if it turned out the nurses had sneakily bathed your baby already? Most of the specialness actually seems to be about your husband washing him for the first time and figuring out how to be with his new baby, not the baby getting clean for the first time.

  29. June 28, 2013 at 4:40 pm #

    It seems like many moms (particularly first time moms) want to chronicle everything, particularly firsts. Some moms might not care. This mom did. It seems like something that would be fairly easy to accommodate.

    • June 28, 2013 at 4:41 pm #

      That being said, I don’t think it’s something to be angry over for YEARS, right a letter of complaint and move on.

      • Sedi
        June 28, 2013 at 5:43 pm #

        Maybe the nurse was actually trying to help by giving the babies a bath whilst the Mum had a nice walk, thinking that the Mum’s got a fair few baths ahead of her! Maybe she should have asked about giving the bath before she did it too.

        But, seriously, two years later and you’re still upset about it?!

        Do you think she genuinely is upset or do you think it’s more a case of jumping on the band wagon and finding something to be a victim about?

      • EB151
        June 28, 2013 at 6:09 pm #

        I did not want my babies bathed. I told the hospital. They were not bathed. I cared a lot so I said so.

        • Lindsay Beyerstein
          June 28, 2013 at 9:49 pm #

          Why did you feel that was important? It’s great that you spoke up and let them know what you wanted, I’m just curious why that was an important boundary for you.

          • EB151
            June 30, 2013 at 4:10 pm #

            I deliver by c-section. I feel very disconnected from the process and I am not really able to hold the baby for a few hours. I wanted to complete the birth process myself by washing the baby. They never had much vernix, so I just said, “Wipe down is great, please don’t bathe, I want to do that.” It was never a problem. For me, it was not about sentimentality so much as a way of completing the birth on my own.

        • Laural
          July 23, 2013 at 8:06 am #

          I also feel the first bath is special and told the hospitals I would like to do it myself. Thankfully I have been met with support and kindness from the staff.

  30. Catherine Tucker
    June 28, 2013 at 4:29 pm #

    Baths are important!

  31. Are you nuts
    June 28, 2013 at 4:11 pm #

    One unfortunate side effect of the prevalence of facebook, blogging, etc. is that people (particularly moms) feel the need to have a picture perfect chronicle of every precious moment in their children’s lives. First cry, first bath, first feed, first diaper change, first smile, first night in their own room, first laugh, first time to roll over, first time to pull up, first solid foods, first steps, first words… all of these moments are special. But… newsflash… chances are you’ll miss at least a couple of them!!! You’ll just have to capture the second, seventh or fiftieth for your blog. Should the hospital be accomodating where possible? Of course! But is this worth hanging onto for years? Good lord, no.

    I would love to think what my great grandmother who raised 14 children thinks of this debate!!! I’m sure it would be something along the lines of “Get a life.”

    • Lindsay Beyerstein
      June 28, 2013 at 10:02 pm #

      As a photographer, I’ll tell you: Most “firsts”–from whatever stage in life–aren’t literal firsts. People post the images they love and let the viewer assume they’re firsts. The real first might have come 3 seconds or 3 weeks earlier. And there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s what photography is for. Fashion magazines take the best shot, newspapers take the best shot, you should take the shot that resonates with you. You’re telling the history of your own life in images. You are the director of this documentary. It’s your creative vision unfolding, not your attempt to live by someone else’s rules. Don’t let people convince you that your pictures (or your experiences) are worth less because they’re unfolding on a different timetable. It’s much like the myth of “natural” childbirth itself, really. Don’t buy into it.

      Usually, “first” pictures are early decent shots. Whether they’re documenting a historical event or a life milestone. Ask any photo editor. That is, unless your photographer is Cartier-Bresson and you live a charmed life, and even then it’s unlikely. He’s dead and magic isn’t real. Don’t get hung up on pictures of “firsts” on the assumption that other people are doing “better.” They’re not.

      • KarenJJ
        June 28, 2013 at 10:16 pm #

        The doctors and nurses and children’s nurses were very accomodating – keeping us involved and asking us politely about doing things. Even to the extent that when my daughter’s umbilical cord clamp was removed the nurse asked us if we wanted to keep it.

    • Antigonos CNM
      June 29, 2013 at 1:00 am #

      I found that as each new milestone was reached, the old ones faded into unimportantness [is that a word?] Children are so vivid, so real, so “present” that I often found myself unable to really remember, except for a few very specific memories, what they had been like even a few months before. Maybe it is just me. Last night, at my daughter’s house, looking at my 2 1/2 year old granddaughter, I found myself thinking, as I looked at baby pictures that they somehow both were and were not Shir. Shir, right in front of me [“Savta! Savta!”] was so much more immediate than those pictures.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa
        June 29, 2013 at 12:28 pm #

        I have been out of town all week, and got home yesterday. Last night, my 2.6666666 yo tells me, out of the blue, “Daddy, I love you. I’m glad your home.”

        You take your first bath experience. I will take that.

        I win. By a mile.

  32. DiomedesV
    June 28, 2013 at 3:52 pm #

    Thank you for making me aware that I don’t have the faintest idea when my child was bathed at the hospital. Did I just miss it? Did I forget it? Was my husband there? Did they do it in another room? Was I asleep (most likely)? I can’t find the memory of witnessing it or even thinking about it. And it was less than a year and a half ago.

    • Pappy
      June 28, 2013 at 4:00 pm #

      Yup, you might as well just book a bed at Promises right now, there’s no hope for that toddler… X-D

    • The Computer Ate My Nym
      June 28, 2013 at 5:31 pm #

      Yeah, I can’t remember a thing about my daughter’s first bath either. The critical thing, as far as I was concerned, is that they let me take her home.

    • Rabbit
      June 28, 2013 at 6:02 pm #

      I have no idea when my boys were first bathed. The first went to a special care nursery (not NICU, but not well baby either) so they could monitor his breathing for a few hours after he was born. He came back to me bathed, I think. Second son I just have no idea. Daughter I know, because the hospital made a special point of having older siblings “help” with the bath if they wanted to. My sons loved that. But if she’d been bathed in the nursery instead, I’m sure I wouldn’t have noticed any more than I did with my sons.
      I do think it was crappy of the hospital to do it if the mom had said she wanted to do it or be there though.

    • Lindsay Beyerstein
      June 28, 2013 at 10:41 pm #

      Does anyone remember Harriet Tubman’s first bath? Marcus Aurelius’? Mozart’s? Hellen Keller’s? I’m guessing not. And they all turned out okay. For that matter, I doubt anyone remembers Ted Bundy’s first bath, either.

    • S
      June 28, 2013 at 11:29 pm #

      I remember when mine was bathed, though i didn’t see it. (I assume they bathed him during this time because he was bloody and gooey when they dumped him on my belly, and then he wasn’t.)

      parents and mother-in-law were in out the hall during my son’s birth,
      and afterwards the nurses opened the door just a little bit so that the
      grandparents could watch them assess and clean the baby, but i was hidden from view (I was bloody and awaiting sutures). I am grateful to them for doing that. It made the grandmas so unbelievably happy.

  33. AmyM
    June 28, 2013 at 3:44 pm #

    Clearly I wasn’t present for my children’s first bath in the hospital since I don’t the answer to this: do they do a sponge bath? They told us not to submerge the babies until their umbilical stumps fell off, but they definitely got cleaned off at some point. I guess I can ask my husband…he may have been present for their first bath, though that is not a guarantee….I can’t say this bothers me at all.

    As other have mentioned, I get why she might be a bit disappointed at the time but 2yrs later is kind of melodramatic. Besides she’s got so many other firsts to look forward to! First day of kindergarten, first two wheeler, first stitches, first broken bone, and so on….

    • Rabbit
      June 28, 2013 at 6:13 pm #

      For my daughter, they washed her in the sink in my hospital room. The drain wasn’t plugged, so there was no standing water, but it was definitely a more thourough scrubbing than just a sponge bath. If I’, remembering correctly, the nurse did put baby’s hair directly under the running water to rinse the soap out. The umbilical stump got wet, but the nurse just patted it dry.

  34. auntbea
    June 28, 2013 at 3:34 pm #

    I was happy they gave mine a bath. I was a little sad about the comb-over though. 😉

  35. CDN Guest
    June 28, 2013 at 3:31 pm #

    The biggest problem with this “empowerment” language is how it devalues actual victims. When you have actually been raped, and someone considers their birth, bath, and god knows what else as rape, what does this say about the validity of an *actual* rape? I believe this language reduces *actual* rape to a minor violation at best, or to nothing but feminine whining at worst. The EXACT opposite of what real feminists seek. Frankly this type of language pisses me off, makes me angry at wanna-be victims, and makes me thankful I have actually experienced victimization. This way I will never be a fool.

    • Pappy
      June 28, 2013 at 3:57 pm #

      THIS! I can just hear it now…

      “Gaah, you women, always complaining. ‘The doctor was so mean and dismissive during my delivery, the nurses gave my baby a bath without asking me, my psychiatrist used his position of trust to manipulate me into sex, my sister was drugged at a party and some guys had sex with her while she was unconscious.’ Really, can’t you just get over it?”

    • EB151
      June 28, 2013 at 4:31 pm #

      It’s a strange culture. We are the most privileged society in the history of the world, but we value victimization. We seem unable to distinguish real, honest-to-god abuses (rape, assault, or even being denied the right to marry freely) with just not getting what we wanted.

      • Clarissa Darling
        June 29, 2013 at 11:46 am #

        Loss of perspective seems to be an unfortuante side effect of living in “the most privileged society in the history of the world”. This woman clearly hasn’t experienced too many serious problems over the last 2 years or I doubt she would have time and energy to waste blogging about how dissapointed she was that her kid got a bath. You’d think living a relatively easy life would make people feel thankful they don’t have really serious problems. However, it often seems to result in people simply turning minor annoyances into serious problems for themselves.

        • Jocelyn
          June 29, 2013 at 3:02 pm #

          Yeah, it reminds me of that whole “First World Problems” meme. It’s sadly true. We have so many advantages in our society, that things that would pale in comparison to other peoples’ problems get blown totally out of proportion.

  36. Chelsea Frost
    June 28, 2013 at 2:46 pm #

    One is forced to wonder if this mother will be equally upset when she isn’t there to witness her children’s first kisses.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa
      June 29, 2013 at 12:18 pm #

      Imagine their loss of virginity!

      (I was going to say wedding night, and it would have been more elegant, but that might be too late…)

  37. Tim
    June 28, 2013 at 2:31 pm #

    Wow. We were too busy worrying about her blood sugar continuously dipping back to the low 20’s to care who washed all the blood off her. We gave her “our” first bath in the NICU a few days later and that was just as special.

    The funny thing for us, is that the hospital she was born at screwed up so badly (nobody from the pharmacy, to the pedi, to the nurses we had over the course of two days, noticed how little sodium they were giving in her IV, and when they finally realized it, she was down to 121meq/L) , and we aren’t even upset about that – I cant imagine being upset about a BATH

    • Tim
      June 28, 2013 at 4:54 pm #

      I should qualify this – we aren’t upset, because it didn’t end up hurting her in any long term way, and the wonderful folks in the NICU @ Boston Children’s fixed the issue after she got rushed there. If she had ended up with neurological damage due to swelling in her brain, I would have been plenty pissed.

      • Elizabeth A
        June 29, 2013 at 12:30 am #

        Tim, to be honest, if I was ever in a situation where neurological damage due to swelling in my child’s brain was an issue I needed to realistically consider, I would have no hesitation with calling that trauma. For the baby first, but also for me, really. I had a baby in the NICU too, and she is also just fine, but the NICU is a really rough start to parenthood. It can be terrifying.

        I’m so glad that Children’s did you up right and that you are so calm about it now. I tend to think that parents who go through these medically intensive experiences with their children have some genuine use for the trauma label, which the “they bathed the baby without me!” people (and the anti-hatting people, and the people who refuse heplocks and so on) don’t so much.

        • Lizzie Dee
          June 29, 2013 at 6:47 am #

          As someone who had to spend weeks realistically considering the prospect of neurological damage (and then deal with the reality) I still struggle with the idea of what is, and isn’t, traumatic. Real injury (to my daughter) psychological injury…

          What I do know is that it would be a whole lot more traumatic if I had been pursuing some dream of natural, perfect, unproblemmatic. Weeks of being in trouble might be less than dealing with a sudden, unexpected emergency. If you are fixated on your child’s first bath being something of great importance, then you will suffer if you miss it. None of this is real, it is the power of our imagination to load it with significance. What happened to me was bad and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. But the role of victim doesn’t have much appeal, nor does a hierarchy of trauma. If this woman struggles with it in this way, isn’t she more traumatised than I was?

          • Tim
            June 29, 2013 at 11:02 am #

            That’s the perspective I wish I could somehow impart on everyone. ” I got pregnant to have a child, not an experience.” In the end, what matters more than the love you share with your child and the time you are lucky enough to spend with them?

        • Tim
          June 29, 2013 at 10:04 am #

          It just.. I don’t know how to describe it. By the time everything was said and done, we just didn’t care about the mistake and the hyponatremia anymore. She went into congestive heart failure @ 6 days old, and was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy. It was a bumpy ride throughout, especially for having thought the entire pregnancy that everything was a-ok, then going from “this baby’s blood sugar is critically low” , to “this babys sodium is critically low”, to “this babies ventricular output is critically low”. I felt like we got a “normal” experience for about an hour after she was born until that first heel prick, and after that it was a month of insanity that ended with us finally at home giving our kid the same medicine our grandparents were taking when they died. (I almost had a fit when one of the poor transplant cards, who we love fiercely now, told us that he was going to put her on digoxin. It was like as soon as I heard him say that, it hit me.) But after all that, it seemed like such a minor thing that somebody made an IV electrolytes mistake you know? And maybe even a fortunate thing, because who knows if we would have noticed her tachypnea in our new parent stupor if she had been home as opposed to the hospital? It stopped after her heart enlarged a bit more, so sometimes I feel like if she hadn’t still been in the hospital because of the hyponatremia, that things would have gotten much worse before we noticed it.

          Anyway, in the end, I don’t feel traumatized by any of it. I wouldn’t trade my now 14 month old for anything in the world, and I appreciate a lot more just what can come and slap you in the face seemingly out of nowhere. A lot of persepective was gained out of that experience.

          • Tim
            June 29, 2013 at 11:00 am #

            I’m feeling like I have a lot to say on the topic of perspective now that I’ve said all that. I (sadly) think it’s not something you can teach, and something you have to gain through experience. I say sadly, because people would really stop caring about fleeting experiences vs the whole if they had that perspective for the most part.
            The perspective I look from now, is to just be grateful and thankful for every moment you get to spend with your loved ones, because life is way more fleeting than you realize. First baths, cord cutting, and all these other little “moments” don’t matter nearly as much as the love between you does.
            For our part, we’ve been incredibly lucky, with everything we’ve been through. Like I said, our daughter is 14 months old now, and her heart is happily supplying plenty of blood to her body. She hasn’t had to be listed for transplant, and she hasn’t even had to have a cath done.
            We’ve met people who had to wait week after agonizing week while Dr’s pored over ultrasounds after doing in utero cardiac interventions to see if they were successful.
            We’ve met people who had to be told that those interventions were not successful and go through them again.
            We’ve met people who have had to go through multiple open heart surgeries and countless cath’s before their babies even made it to 1 year old.
            We’ve met people who have been told the only real hope they have of avoiding a transplant and all it’s associated downsides is letting a brilliant hotshot surgeon try out something experimental that he’s pretty sure will work.
            We’ve met people who have waited for months, years on the transplant list before their child received a donor heart, and now spend every day with the spectre of rejection in the back of their mind.
            We’ve met people who lost their child waiting for that donor heart that never came.
            We’ve met people who lost their child so quickly that they never even had a chance to be listed.
            And this is just the experience of people going through just ONE of the myriad things in your body that can go horribly wrong in the blink of an eye.
            And we’ve met all the people who work every single day towards the common purpose of helping these children, and helping their parents to understand better what is going on, sometimes succeeding and sometimes heartbreakingly not.
            There is a thousand different things that can go wrong with a heart before a baby is even born, and one of them happens to one in every hundred or so kids born in the US. The only thing that matters in the end is loving your child as fiercely as you can for as long as you can. Nothing else.

  38. Allie P
    June 28, 2013 at 1:33 pm #

    The hospital I was at bathed my kid within an hour after her birth, after our first nursing session, before we were wheeled out of the L&D and into the mother/baby rooms we were to stay in for the next few days. The lady gave her a bath right there in front of us. I have pictures of my husband and I staring open mouthed as the nurse scrubbed that kid down. I’m so glad I saw that, because it showed me babies are not in fact made of candy floss. It showed me how much my baby liked having nice warm water poured over her. This nurse also showed us how to burrito wrap. And we got to take the tub home.

    I had no desire to give my kid her first bath, though I do understand the benefit derived from being there to watch it at least — a real education. If there was a fall down moment there, it was that the hospital didn’t do it in front of the new parents.

    But to be upset years later? Get a life, lady.

  39. GiddyUpGo123
    June 28, 2013 at 12:59 pm #

    You know, I can’t imagine that first bath is a very easy one. I don’t know, because I didn’t give any of my four babies their first bath. But I’d think there would be a lot of effort required to wash off all the blood/venix/misc. gross stuff and who the hell wants to do that after 36 hours in labor?

    • MaineJen
      June 28, 2013 at 3:26 pm #

      Amen. My DD was so covered in “cheese” after she was born they must’ve had to use a chisel to get it off! I remember the nurse being all apologetic after they brought her back after her bath, saying that they still hadn’t managed to get all of the goo out of her hair. *shudder* Both my kids were bathed in the nursery about 12 hours or so after birth, I think…I was grateful for the rest!!

      • GiddyUpGo123
        June 28, 2013 at 3:39 pm #

        Well at least you could put a hat on her to cover the goo. Oh wait, “hat rape!”

        • rh1985
          June 29, 2013 at 12:43 am #

          lol! I love baby hats. How could something so adorable be harmful?

  40. theadequatemother
    June 28, 2013 at 12:55 pm #

    Well, at least it seems most of the comments on the original thread are ones telling her she’s being ridiculous. Oh, and she does want a HB next time. Somehow I don’t think the bath is the real issue.

    • Renee
      June 28, 2013 at 1:36 pm #

      I called it on the HB!
      If the MW did it, she would be a “wise women” I am sure….

  41. Jessica
    June 28, 2013 at 12:50 pm #

    Slightly OT: The other day a friend posted a link on FB about hospitals delaying the first bath until baby was at least 12 hours old, which apparently was associated with increased breastfeeding rates. Friend’s comment was, “Another thing I wish I had known the first time around.” So I sent my husband a message asking whether our son was bathed in the hospital, because I don’t remember it. Answer: he was, when he was less than an hour old. My husband gave him the bath with the nurse’s assistance. News to me! Impact it’s had on my life: none.

  42. Bombshellrisa
    June 28, 2013 at 12:39 pm #

    Maybe they wanted to give the mom a break after birthing twins. After all, it’s probably the one time she would have two extra people willing and able to bathe 2 squirmy newborns.

    • Renee
      June 28, 2013 at 12:41 pm #

      Oh, quit being so darn reasonable.

      Help? This awesome mama doesn’t need no stinking help from evil HCPs. Shoulda had a HB. Probably will have one with the next baby so she doesn’t miss the bath. /snark

      • Bombshellrisa
        June 28, 2013 at 12:45 pm #

        I forgot, the only help that is “good” is the kind you pay your postpartum doula $20 an hour for. Everyone else does it wrong on purpose to hurt your feelings!

    • Jessica
      June 28, 2013 at 12:51 pm #

      I could barely bathe myself in the first day after giving birth – no way I was going to try and bathe a slippery newborn.

  43. Renee
    June 28, 2013 at 12:34 pm #

    Anyone send this to “White Whine” or “First World Problems”? Its PERFECT.

    OMG, its a freaking bath. You will give these babies, I don’t know, hundreds of baths just in the first year, and probably a few more at the hospital if they are there for a few days. There WILL be a first bath with YOU, so chill. Give them another one, they won’t know any better!

    I get that we ALL have minor complaints (there is a White Whine/first world problem page for a reason), but this gets over the top when it is an UPSET from 2 years ago. Ridiculous.

    Look- The NICU tied a cloth diaper around my baby’s face (!!!) to keep his binky in, because he would not be quiet. I was pretty appalled when I saw this, and complained. He is 2 now and guess what? I made a meme out of the pic I snapped. But the upset? The upset is all gone.
    Get a grip.

    • me
      June 28, 2013 at 2:10 pm #

      “You will give these babies, I don’t know, hundreds of baths just in the first year…”

      That was kinda my thought – you have the next 6 or so *years* to bath those kids. Okay, my horrible parent admission time, but I *hate* giving baths. It’s not so bad when they are infants, but once they’re toddlers or older, forget it! You fight with ’em for 20 minutes to get in the damn tub, then they don’t want to get out. It kills your back and your knees. You seem to get wetter than they do. You spend the next half hour wrangling them to get into PJ’s (and/or diapers before they pee on the floor), get their hair combed, and, as needed, their nails trimmed. Repeat, at least twice weekly, for the next 5 years. Ugh. I’m so glad my 6 year old is starting to shower with minimal assistance. I think I can have her totally self-bathing-sufficient within the next few months!!!! Joy 🙂 One down, two to go!

      • AmyP
        June 28, 2013 at 3:04 pm #

        Babies are so slippery when soapy and potentially so easy to drop! I bathe my 8-month-old fine by myself now and do fine, but I find newborn babies so challenging that I have generally insisted on my husband helping me with the process. And even with a bigger, more manageable baby, it requires a lot of planning to make sure that a fresh diaper, washcloths, baby shampoo and towel are right there.

        And that’s just one baby!

      • KumquatWriter
        June 28, 2013 at 4:11 pm #

        THIS!!!! I detest bath time – and the 2.666 year old needs it every day!

      • Antigonos CNM
        June 29, 2013 at 1:54 am #

        One of my retirement projects is to write a book entitled “Things Dr. Spock Forgot to Tell Me” and I think I will devote a whole paragraph to What Shlepping Junior In and Out of His Bath Did to My Back. When my kids were all old enough to climb in and out of the tub unaided, I wanted to throw a party. [close second is when they can pour themselves a glass of water instead of driving you crazy every two minutes.]

      • FormerPhysicist
        June 29, 2013 at 11:36 am #

        I got IN the bath with mine at that stage. It was easier on my back. And I could comb their hair right in the bath.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa
        June 29, 2013 at 12:14 pm #

        me, I was going to say that;. Basically, that exact thing.

        I hate bath night, too.

      • Squillo
        June 29, 2013 at 4:32 pm #

        Or, if you have a kid like mine, repeat for the next (going on) 12 years.

        I still hate bath nights.

  44. Therese
    June 28, 2013 at 12:26 pm #

    I’m sympathetic. Maybe these are the only babies she will have and now she will never have a “first bath” experience. I don’t think it is NCB to blame for this so much as the baby book industry that tells you you MUST record all your baby’s firsts or you suck as a parent.

    • Guesteleh
      June 28, 2013 at 12:30 pm #

      I don’t mean this to be snarky but I can’t believe this is a thing. When my son was born six years ago it never occurred to me to insist on giving him a bath. Not at all on my list of firsts that only mommy can do. I guess I kind of get it but shit, there are so many first _______ coming down the road. It just seems to be unnecessary pressure to get one more thing right.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD
      June 28, 2013 at 12:32 pm #

      So what?

      Life is full of disappointments. Grown ups deal with it and move on. NCB encourages women to feel traumatized, victimized and to believe that the relationship with the baby is threatened.

      For a movement that claims to empower women, it sure makes a lot of them feel bad unnecessarily.

      • EB151
        June 28, 2013 at 4:22 pm #

        I think that’s the heart of all of this. This NCB/attachment movement is creating a culture of women who are victimized — and take pride in it. They have to identify the way they were wounded just to join. (Self-wounding through hours of agony or self-imposed servitude to one’s children counts.) It is the very opposite of empowering or feminist. It’s scary. Feminist mothering is not about where you birth or how long you breastfeed or whether you work, it’s about taking responsibility for your choices, whatever they may be, and making them without self-pity or a need for anyone else to validate them. I don’t think our culture yet supports that, and actually seems to be moving away from it.

    • Renee
      June 28, 2013 at 12:35 pm #

      SO WHAT?
      She WILL get to give a “first bath”! The first bath she gives as a mom.

      • Captain Obvious
        June 28, 2013 at 12:49 pm #

        The first bath at home.

  45. Yammy
    June 28, 2013 at 11:58 am #

    While I do have sympathy for not being there for the first bath, I’m more than a little miffed that they would actually use the word “rape” so damn frivolously here…

    • SkepticalGuest
      June 28, 2013 at 2:46 pm #

      FYI: The term “bath rape” was made up by the Fed Up with Homebirth Facebook page.

  46. Bomb
    June 28, 2013 at 11:55 am #

    I was sad I missed the first everythings that happen the first week of life. I thought I’d have the baby and start snuggling right away, breastfeeding, changing diapers etc, and then a few hours later she’d go to nursery so I could take a nap. Instead I couldn’t hold her for days, couldnt take her home, never saw a meconium diaper, didn’t give her a bath, didn’t breastfeed and had to pump around the clock and didnt get to even give her a bottle for days.

    It is sad and disappointing. She isn’t even two weeks old though and I’m about 85% over it. I can’t imagine it being an issue in two years.

    • Renee
      June 28, 2013 at 12:36 pm #

      Both mine went to the NICU for 4-6 weeks, so I missed all this stuff. And never thought to care.

    • AmyP
      June 28, 2013 at 3:06 pm #

      “…never saw a meconium diaper…”

      If you ever get the chance with another baby, I think you’ll realize that you didn’t miss much. 🙂

    • Chelsea Frost
      June 28, 2013 at 7:16 pm #

      Really, no reason to miss the meconium diaper.If you really wanna experience it, follow one of the construction vehicles spreading road tar.

  47. amazonmom
    June 28, 2013 at 11:42 am #

    We usually don’t bathe without parents present. There are a few exceptions such as when the infant has large amounts of blood on the skin . NICU babies were getting skin irritation when we just wiped away blood so now we do a minimal bath to remove it.

  48. Meredith Watson
    June 28, 2013 at 11:30 am #

    Personally, I feel she has a right to be a bit upset about this. When the hospital saves your life, or the life of your baby and you are angry about that, that is ridiculous. But when they take away a personal bonding moment for no real reason, that could be upsetting.

    After each of my births we were asked specifically about this and whether we would want to participate. I think that is pretty standard in most places.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD
      June 28, 2013 at 12:16 pm #

      The real problem is the concept of personal bonding moments. NCB advocates and attachment parents have reduced parenting to a handful of specific events that have absolutely no relevance to bonding at all.

      Bonding is not a recipe and if you don’t add exactly the right ingredients in exactly the right amount in exactly the right order, you can’t bond. Bonding is a process that occurs over time, most of that time being filled with moments of no particular significance.

      Obviously, if the mother asked that her babies not be bathed, then the nurse should not have bathed them. That’s no different than if the mother had asked for Coke with her meal and the nurse substituted it with milk because she thought that was better. To be traumatized by your baby getting bathed is the same as being traumatized by getting milk when you ordered Coke. It represents a massive loss of perspective and a misunderstanding about what mothering means.

      • Meredith Watson
        June 28, 2013 at 1:07 pm #

        I agree with your comment on the concept of bonding. My choice of words was loaded with meaning but that was not my intention. I don’t claim that bonding could or would be disturbed by missing that first bath, but I think it is a personal preference and if you want to be there for the first bath I think that should be respected.

        Yes in the scheme of things it might seem petty, particularly to those who endured real trauma at birth and weren’t able to hold their babies or some, even take them home, but I chalk this up to sentimentality more than a NCB philosophy.

        • thankfulmom
          June 28, 2013 at 1:59 pm #

          Is it really sentimentality when someone is still upset about it 2 years later? That seems a bit extreme to me.

          • Meredith Watson
            June 28, 2013 at 3:32 pm #

            There is no doubt that it is extreme to be upset this long after it happened but we can only speculate as to why she feels this way. I just don’t think it necessarily has anything to do with NCB indoctrination.

      • Chelsea Frost
        June 28, 2013 at 7:18 pm #

        “Coke rape”? “Drink rape”?

    • Chelsea Frost
      June 28, 2013 at 7:17 pm #

      Bonding does not happen in a moment. You have a lifetime to bond with your child.

  49. Jenna
    June 28, 2013 at 11:30 am #

    I’d prefer that they bathe the baby before even handing him to me for the first time. Can you imagine the reaction if this woman voiced this complaint to a woman from the 1800s? Or 1500s?

    • Bombshellrisa
      June 28, 2013 at 1:34 pm #

      I have a hard time believing that my great grandmother would have been upset if someone else wanted to bathe her newborn. Of course, she had 13 babies so maybe the thrill of the first bath wore a little thin after that many labors and home births

  50. The Computer Ate My Nym
    June 28, 2013 at 11:13 am #

    I feel ambivalent about this one. I certainly agree that there are worse things in the world than your baby getting its first bath without you. I don’t even remember who gave my baby her first bath.

    At the same time, not respecting the parents’ wish re bathing is a sign that the hospital isn’t listening properly and that is simply wrong. Patient preference should always be respected when it isn’t a safety issue or a major disruption to the hospital routine. And women do often feel very vulnerable and sensitive to little things just after the baby’s birth. So I can see being upset.

    But if it’s still the uppermost thing in her mind a year later I worry that it’s a symbolic problem and there are other issues, such as maybe general unhappiness with having two babies to care for and fixating on this as an easy thing to blame. Or maybe I’m overanalyzing here. I don’t know the whole story, of course.

    • LynnetteHafkenIBCLC
      June 28, 2013 at 11:15 am #

      I think some nurses do feel it’s a safety issue because of blood-borne diseases and bacteria from the vagina.

      • The Computer Ate My Nym
        June 28, 2013 at 12:00 pm #

        That’s reasonable, but then why not talk to the parents about the need to give a bath right away and see if they want to be involved? I wonder if the parents were so suspicious and difficult to talk to that the nurses took the path of least resistance in not involving them. Or maybe they just didn’t see it as a big deal and didn’t think to ask. Again, it’s by no means the worst thing that can happen, but in the ideal world they would have asked the parents if they wanted to be involved.

        • Renee
          June 28, 2013 at 2:59 pm #

          The nurse probably didn’t think about it because 99.9% of moms aren’t such fragile flowers.

      • Kristie
        June 28, 2013 at 12:06 pm #

        When I was in the well baby nursery, you had to glove every time you touched a baby that hadn’t been bathed because of that issue.

      • Playing Possum
        June 29, 2013 at 7:54 am #

        Yup. Its almost the unholy trinity of biohazard – blood, poop, all it needs is saliva for a truly special soup. Yuk. Imagine what’s hanging around the perineum – faecal flora, possibly gbs, possibly yeast. I wouldn’t want that around a baby’s mouth or mothers nipple.

    • Renee
      June 28, 2013 at 12:25 pm #

      The issue is that she is STILL UPSET 2 YEARS later.
      Had she had baby last week, and said “Wish they hadn’t done that”, wel fine. We all have minor complaints. But 2 years later? GTFO.

  51. Catherine Tucker
    June 28, 2013 at 10:43 am #

    For some parents, giving baby the first bath is important. It’s important enough that it is an issue to address in a surrogacy contract, by providing that the surrogate will not bathe the child while waiting for the Intended Parents to arrive at the hospital. It’s really no different than other provisions in a surrogacy contract that provide that the surrogate shall not be the first to hold the child, nor will she attempt to name the child or exercise other parental responsibilities.

    But, for goodness sake, being upset two whole years later that someone else gave your kid his/her first bath is really overkill! The babies were probably getting stinky and cruddy, and the nurse was trying to do you a favor.

    • Catherine Tucker
      June 28, 2013 at 10:56 am #

      Ooops, hit enter too soon. It certainly would have been preferable for the nurse to discuss this with mom first, but I cannot imagine the nurse was acting out of malice.

    • Elizabeth A
      June 28, 2013 at 11:25 am #

      It’s really no different than other provisions in a surrogacy contract
      that provide that the surrogate shall not be the first to hold the
      child, nor will she attempt to name the child or exercise other parental

      Really? That’s awfully squicky about surrogacy contracts, for me anyway. Hasn’t the surrogate been holding the baby for nine months, basically? So does it make a difference if the baby is in her arms for a while? What if it takes the intended parents a long time to arrive – can everyone but the surrogate hold the baby, or does the baby just need to be passed, ceremonially, to a non-parent third party first? If decisions need to be made in the gap between birth and the arrival of the intended parents, how is that handled? (Is it not awfully weird to capitalize the title of one party to a contract, but not the other?)

      I get that this is an area where emotions run high and contracts need to be extremely explicit as a result, but some of these provisions seem potentially demeaning to the surrogate, and problematic in providing care for the newborn.

      • Catherine Tucker
        June 28, 2013 at 12:38 pm #


        You make some good points, but I would encourage you not to read too much into my use, or non-use, of capital letters. I use the term “surrogate” colloquially, and in my legal work refer to surrogates as “Gestational Carriers” with capitalization on par with Intended Parents.

        I was, of course, oversimplifying, as no one expects that the baby will be ignored until the IPs get to the hospital. A well-written surrogacy contract will provide for interim care procedures in the event that the IPs are not present at the time of the birth. In some cases, the surrogate may provide that interim care; in other cases, a third party may be designated to provide interim care. And some decisions can be made by the IPs while they are still in transit (such as approving vaccinations). Of course, newborns have immediate needs, and the time period in which it take IPs to arrive can vary greatly, so careful planning must be in place before the birth to avoid any gap in the baby’s care.

        And, yes, it can make a huge difference to IPs who have been waiting for much longer than 9 months as to whether the surrogate holds the baby for a little while longer. It’s not demeaning to the surrogate, since it is not her child anyway. But it can be extremely demeaning to the Intended Mother, who longs for nothing more than to be able to hold her child in the way that most other mothers take for granted. Of course, if the IPs want the surrogate to be the first to hold the baby, that’s their prerogative and no one will object to that.

        • Renee
          June 28, 2013 at 12:40 pm #

          Not letting the surrogate hold the baby is probably also meant to protect her from feelings of attachment. If she gets too attached, it can be ugly for everyone, especially her.

          • Catherine Tucker
            June 28, 2013 at 12:59 pm #

            If a surrogate is not comfortable with the IPs being the first ones to hold the baby, then we really need to be thinking about whether surrogacy is the right choice for her. If a surrogate is going to get overly emotionally attached, it can be incredibly ugly for her, and that’s not fair to anyone. Protection of the surrogate–both physically and emotionally–is *extremely* important. Some women just aren’t cut out to be surrogates, either for physical, emotional or social reasons, and that’s OK. The best thing we can do in such a situation is to not move forward with the arrangement.

          • fiftyfifty1
            June 28, 2013 at 11:28 pm #

            I do worry about the surrogate sometimes. A colleague of mine found a Gestational Carrier willing to try for twins and intentionally transferred 2 embryos that had been made with young eggs, thus making the chance of twinning high. Sure enough, they ended up with twins. I privately thought it was crazy. Twins are a high-risk pregnancy for both the woman and the babies. I understand that twins save time and money on IVF. I can understand why a woman with fertility problems and limited money might be tempted to accept that risk for herself and do a 2 egg transfer IVF into herself. But to ask a surrogate to take on that risk, can that be ethical?

          • attitude devant
            June 29, 2013 at 12:20 am #

            I’m with you, fiftyfifty1. I’ve seen surrogates carrying twins who seemed not to have been made aware of the risks they were taking. No offense to Catherine Tucker, but I have found many adoptive parents and parents seeking surrogates to be…er…exploitative. OTOH, since the care of the pregnant person is my responsibility I presume it’s also my responsibility to watch out that HER rights are protected.

          • Elizabeth A
            June 29, 2013 at 12:50 am #

            AD, the personal stories I’ve heard about surrogacy definitely tend towards exploitative of the surrogate, and I know that colors my response.

            One of the things that I think parents need to be aware of, in having and raising children, is that you do not get an exclusive emotional claim on your child. I have seen parents be jealous of the relationship the nanny has with a child, or the daycare provider, and it’s clear to me that this is not good for the child. Children will often form fond attachments to anyone who responds to them consistently and appropriately and is in their lives on a daily basis, and they aren’t so good at distinguishing between Mom and Dad, who love them and will always be there, and Miss Kathy, who is working her shift and never thinks about them at night. As a parent, however, it’s unwise to attempt to make your kid aware of that difference, or to be territorial about Miss Kathy’s influence. (There have been many Miss Kathys in our lives, and I’ve been lucky to draw so many good ones.)

            By all means, if the surrogate wants to give birth and be done, she should have that option. However, if a woman has been appropriately counseled and supported in this choice, and is presumed capable of handling her emotional responses to pregnancy while handing off the child, she should also be presumed capable of handling her emotional responses to holding, bathing, or feeding the baby, and deciding for herself whether she wants to do those things.

            When intended parents enter a surrogacy agreement, they need to deal, themselves, with the ways in which this arrangement will differ from a conventional pregnancy, and the various ways in which the surrogate may be present for the newborn. It bothers me that it is considered reasonable for intended parents to attempt to contract themselves an illusion of emotional exclusivity, when reality and sanity would seem to be on the side of counseling those parents to accept that this exclusivity doesn’t exist.

          • Amazed
            June 29, 2013 at 5:07 am #

            I’ve heard about birth defects discovered late in pregnancy and the intended parents insisting for terminating which would endanger the surrogate. Or is at odds with her own beliefs that life should not be taken away. In these cases, the intended parents backed off and let the surrogates deal with the babies once they were born.

            Then, there was this rich Russian family which used TWO surrogates at the same time, one turned out to be carrying twins and they insisted that the other one terminate. Then, when the child was a few months old, they decided that they wanted it, after all, and went to court. The poor surrogate – she was literally poor – claimed that her child could not be tossed around like a puppy and in turn, she sued the intended parents for support money or however it was phrased. Now, I imagine some people would take the side of the intended parents and say that if she wants money, that proves she’s greedy but she kept the child when she didn’t know they would ever want him, she registered him as hers and took care of him. Why should she give him back? And whomever hadn’t been devastatingly poor cannot know how hard it can be to raise a child in poverty.

            It’s like a friend of mine whose father’s baby left her two weeks before the wedding. She did not terminate and she does not seek support money but if she does, I’ll think it right.

          • Catherine Tucker
            July 1, 2013 at 11:01 am #

            Oh, this is just awful 🙁 That should never happen.

          • Catherine Tucker
            July 1, 2013 at 10:56 am #

            I’m a big proponent of single embryo transfer!!!!! Taking on the risks of twins for yourself is one thing; asking a friend/family member/stranger to take on that risk is another.

            My contracts address the number of embryos to be transferred. And, unless the surrogate agrees otherwise, it’s going to be ONE.

          • AmyM
            July 1, 2013 at 12:00 pm #

            Just so you know, my husband and I agreed to single embryo transfer with our IVF cycle because we didn’t want multiples. We got identical twins. Turns out the risk of that happening is about 1:250….

          • Amazed
            June 29, 2013 at 5:28 am #

            “Protection of the surrogate–both physically and emotionally–is *extremely* important.”

            Thanks for the laugh, Catherine Tucker. After reading your previous posts, thanks for the laugh.

            Would you please answer to this: in pregnancy, things change all of a sudden. What do we do when they change in surrogate pregnancy? Why do I suspect that your solution is that the Intended Parents (emphasis yours) are the ones who should make all the decisions about the baby which just happens to be in the surrogate’s body, thus depriving her of decision-making?

            But protection of the surrogate is extremely important, yada, yada.

          • Catherine Tucker
            July 1, 2013 at 10:52 am #

            “Why do I suspect that your solution is that the Intended Parents (emphasis yours) are the ones who should make all the decisions about the baby which just happens to be in the surrogate’s body, thus depriving her of decision-making?”

            Then you would be incorrect. What is clear is that the GC’s body is involved, and that needs to be very much respected. It may surprise you to hear that typically both sides are very respectful of the GC’s body and feelings.

            It can be a tough balancing act at times, but the most important thing is that everyone go into the arrangement with a clear understanding of their mutual expectations. Having everyone on the same page can make the process much smoother, and avoid things like hurt feelings down the road. Putting details in writing in the contract is a good way to make sure everyone is on the same page. Thinking through tough issues beforehand (what if the baby has an anomaly incompatible with life? what if the GC becomes brain dead and can only be kept alive with life support?) If the parties cannot get on the same page prior to the pregnancy, then the match probably isn’t going to work out and should not go forward.

          • Amazed
            July 1, 2013 at 11:22 am #

            Thanks for your reply, Catherine Tucker. I am, in fact, surprised how respectful it is when I was doing my best to sound snarky. Good for you!

            I am talking about things that cannot be predicted. Like, say, the surrogate comes down with something she needs drugs for while the baby doesn’t. Or like when the surrogate’s own child comes down with something contagiou as often happens with kids. Should a surrogate be able to choose caring for her child or should she keep the intended parents’ baby safe?

            There was a case in India where the surrogate’s husband had an accident and she was not allowed to visit him because she was on bedrest in hospital. What do we do when something that cannot be predicted happens?

          • Catherine Tucker
            July 1, 2013 at 11:59 am #

            You sure picked some tough examples!

            Ideally, everyone will chat and try to come up with a solution that balances all of those competing needs fairly. But, ultimately, I believe that best practices dictate that in those types of emergency situations, the GC has to do what she feels is right, while minimizing, to the maximum extent practical, the potential harm to the fetus. So maybe she takes care of her sick kid, but is very diligent about hand washing and tries not to let her sick kid cough right in her face?

            My template contract specifies that the GC will take “all reasonable precautions” to protect the fetus, simply because you cannot predict everything that might possibly come up. I believe that this is fair. The GC doesn’t need to go skydiving during her pregnancy, but preventing her from comforting her own sick kid is pretty harsh.

          • Amazed
            June 29, 2013 at 4:55 am #

            If this is the surrogate’s decision, it rings true. However, from Catherine Tucker’s post I glean that is is meant to protect the intended parents from the ugly reality that the wife wasn’t the one who gave birth to the kid. I cannot imagine that anyone who insists that the surrogate must not be the first one to hold the child because it would hurt the said anyone’s feelings is terribly concerned about the surrogate.

        • fiftyfifty1
          June 28, 2013 at 11:09 pm #

          I can understand the Intended Parents being *very* eager to hold their baby. But the phrasing of “the surrogate shall not be the first to hold the child” sounds petty and punitive. Almost like saying “Anybody but HER!!”. And the part where not holding the baby first is “extremely demeaning to the Intended Mother, who longs for nothing more than to be able to hold her child”, makes me realize how much we hype motherhood in our culture. The Intended Mom is portrayed as basically unable to think or act in a mature fashion because of this pent up desire for motherhood. Like she suffers from Empty-Womb-Hysteria or somesuch. It says something, I think, that it’s taken for granted that the Intended Mother is the one whose feelings we must tiptoe around. You did not write “But it can be extremely demeaning to the Intended Father, who longs for nothing more than to be able to hold his child”.

        • Amazed
          June 29, 2013 at 4:51 am #

          Fuck the Intended Mother’s tiny hurt feelings. One would think that a woman who chose to use a Surrogate had been used to some much greater inconveniences and not turn this minor one into a “poor little me” moment when she’s had it far worse. Why would it be so demeaning to this poor, poor woman who finally gets what she wanted? Maybe, if she isn’t ready to accept that some things will be different, she should not be an Intended Mother? Unless a forgetting surgery is done, she cannot think that she’s the one who gave birth to this child, yes? She did not have it the way other mothers take for granted. You seem awfully impatient to forget this little fact.

          I was irritated by your capitalizing the Intended Parents and not the Surrogate, too, but I tried not to read too much into it. Then, it was pointed out to you and you went on like this. Now, this definitely reads like great sympathy and understanding for these victims, the martyred Intended Parents and open derision to the means to their end, I mean the lowly surrogate.

          The stories I’ve heard about surrogacy definitely points toward exploiting the rented womb and your post did nothing to dissuade me from this notion. You might feel like you’re doing some great and needed work and it might even be true but I never believed in this and your post just reenforced my beliefs.

          • Amazed
            July 1, 2013 at 11:28 am #

            Hey, where did the minus to the post go? And I was trying to downvote it myself because of how acidly it sounded and I couldn’t. Is it because it’s mine? I don’t want to delete it but shouldn’t I be able to downvote it? Or is it Disqus doing its own thing again?

        • Lizzie Dee
          June 29, 2013 at 7:57 am #

          Not much that is natural about a ” well-written surrogacy contract” so I am not sure what is going on here. It is a form of birth, an arrangement that I just don’t get, but I did find what you wrote quite repellent. I have occasionally read about different kinds of surrogacy, and if everybody is happy with such an approach people like me should not have a view on it. I have read some from surrogate women who “love having babies” but not so much raising them, and some who were very altruistic and probably wouldn’t mind this approach. But the idea of the well-off imposing all this on someone is horrible. I can see that it could be protective of both parties but it doesn’t come across that way.

          • Clarissa Darling
            June 29, 2013 at 11:22 am #

            As far as I’m concerned, a contact exsits to allow two parties who are concenting adults (regardless of who is better off financially) to enter into a legally binding agreement with one and other. If I want to write a contract for work on my house that says “all construction work must take place between the hours of 1 am and 3 am in the morning” that would be ridiculous of me but, if my contractor signs it that’s what they’re in for. If one party is truly being forced, lied to or is of dimished capacity to understand what they are signing, it’s not legally binding. Isn’t spelling out eveything to the detail so that there is little to no ambibuity the goal of a contract? Similarily, I wouldn’t sign a contract for work on my house that said “ABC construction will replace all kitchen cabinets with newer ones, sometime in the near future for about $10,000”. I would want to know exactly when the work was being done, what materials were being used and what the cost would be. I understand surrogacy is something different because there are a lot more emotions and ethics involved (which is why I wouldn’t want to be on either side of a surrogacy contract myself) but, from a legal standpoint I would think that having as much as possible spelled out as clearly as possible would be the opposite of expoitation–it’s making sure both parties go into the agreement with their eyes open. I’m not demands to be included in a contract upfont doesn’t saying that some parents who are looking for a surrogate might not have what some consider to be unreasonable demands but, asking for these strike me as expoloting someone as much as not including these demands in the contract and then coming back and saying later “by the way we expect xxx or we threaten not to pay you/sue you etc…..” would.

          • Elizabeth A
            June 29, 2013 at 12:04 pm #

            One of the issues with having clauses in the surrogacy contract about who holds the baby first (which doesn’t arise in your contractor example) is the question of whether the clause is legally enforceable.

            Say you are involved in a surrogacy contract, as an intended parent, and you want to hold the baby first. You want, basically, for the surrogate to give birth, and then for the nurse to turn around and hand you the baby straight away. You write a contract to that effect, the surrogate signs it.

            Sometime in the nine months of pregnancy, the surrogate changes her mind. Not about the whole thing! You’re still getting the baby. But she doesn’t want you in the delivery room, or she doesn’t call you when she goes into labor so you can be waiting, or, at the last minute, she tells that nurse who is (per your contract) supposed to hand the baby over that, actually, she wants a few minutes to hold the baby and say goodbye.

            1. THE INTENDED PARENTS HAVE NO ENFORCEABLE LEGAL RIGHT TO EVEN BE PRESENT AT THE HOSPITAL. The hospital staff is not a party to your surrogacy contract. They are never going to be a party to your surrogacy contract. They have not read it, don’t know what’s in it, and do not give a single damn. The job of the hospital staff is to care for the patients (the laboring woman and the newborn infant), and if the intended parents are sufficient pains in the ass, security will escort them off the premises. Under federal patient privacy law, they have no right to information about the surrogate’s health, treatment, progress in labor… they are at the mercy of the surrogate.

            2. It seems unlikely to me that a court would consider a breach in a contract clause concerning bathing the baby first, or giving the baby kisses, or whatever, to be remediable. If the surrogate breaks those clauses, but still hands over the baby, she has performed per contract, and the surrogate is owed all of her money. Trying to get a portion of it back would be time-consuming, exhausting, and possibly completely futile.

            You could, I suppose, hitch some extra compensation to performance in those areas, but you may feel more then a little hollow at the prospect of paying extra for guaranteed first kisses. The surrogate might feel hollow about it too. It’s the kind of point that makes negotiations fall apart.

            So it might behoove your lawyer to tell you that the important thing is going home with your baby, and that, on this non-traditional path to that end, you may have to suck some things up. If you cannot grow a thick enough skin for that, surrogacy is not your route to parenthood.

          • Clarissa Darling
            June 29, 2013 at 1:12 pm #

            These are all good points which I totally agree with. You clearly know more about surrogacy and the law than I do. I’m (I think it should be obvious) not a lawyear, just a lay person who has some limited knowledge of law as it relates to my education in business (ie: had to take a few semesters of business and tax law to get my credentials) and has some interest in legal topics in general. Unlike CPMs , I would not suggest you ever hire me based on this very limited knowledge!

            Certainly, if i was a lawyer, I would want my clients to understand what they could realistically expect and know what was/wasn’t likely to be legally enforceable
            about their agreement. As a person who considers myself more practical than idealistic, I would also want to tell them that, yes, sometimes s**t happens
            and not to sweat the small stuff.

            I guess my comment was more about the fact that I don’t necessarily think that having a contract which requires specific things is exploitive of a surrogate
            mother just because the intended parents are more well to do. I think it poses an interesting ethical question when 2 partes who enter into a contract are not on equal grounds regarding money, access to legal advice, education level etc… OT but, this issue has been on my mind lately as it relates to the current the financial crisis where many banks have been
            accused of taking advantage customers with limited means and getting them into loans they couldn’t really afford. I think there are those cases where certain banks did take advantage of or even outright lie to consumers, and the courts are sorting those out. However, I also think there are some cases where people need to be held accountable for signing contracts they fail to execute and where arguing that one was exploited or imposed upon because the other party had more means is disingenuous.

            Anyway, in the case of surrogacy I can see both sides and the only thing that is clear to me is that are few black and white answers. I don’t think I would personally want to be involved in either side of a surrogacy contract. I don’t think would cope well with all of the legal and emotional lines that can get blurred. You are so right to advise people to carefully consider whether they are ready for this before they choose it as an option.

          • Susan
            June 29, 2013 at 2:50 pm #

            Has anyone else watched Google Baby ( easy to find on YouTube ) and what did you think? I was disturbed by the power disparity on a gut level to the point I thought about it for weeks. I also was bothered by the OB care issues with the surrogate mothers in India. Insisting on a cesarean for poor women with perhaps less access to medical care for a subsequent pregnancy puts them at risk. And what about the risks of a C/S to the mother? I would have to wonder too, what the infection rate might be at that clinic where the doctors wear the masks over their mouths but not their noses in surgery. It just seems wrong that poor women in a foreign country are selling their bodies so we westerners don’t have to pay as much or deal with the rights of women who live in our own countries. I felt like it was one step away from science fiction.

          • Catherine Tucker
            July 1, 2013 at 10:43 am #

            There is quite a bit of exploitation in some Indian clinics, and US Intended Parents need to be aware of that before going to India. As we know from Dr. Amy’s posts, a VBAC requires continuous monitoring. Will a rural woman in India be able to get that in a future pregnancy? This is something that needs to be very carefully thought out by any surrogate before agreeing to the transfer of two embryos. Or what about clinics that routinely transfer multiple embryos simply to increase their success rates, with the plan to require the Gestational Carrier to undergo a reduction, regardless of whether she is agreeable to such a reduction? Yuck!

            I tend to discourage Indian surrogacy for a variety of reasons, including what you mention. For those IPs who feel India is right for them, it’s crucial to select a reputable clinic.

          • Catherine Tucker
            July 1, 2013 at 10:35 am #

            ” I think it poses an interesting ethical question when 2 parties who enter into a contract are not on equal grounds regarding money, access to legal advice, education level etc…”

            It is absolutely crucial to make sure that the Gestational Carrier has access to competent legal representation and that she gets to pick her own lawyer with whom she is comfortable working. Typically, the IPs will pay the GC’s legal fees for the contract review process, so GC’s are not being denied legal advice based on inability to pay. Yes, it is yet another expense for the IPs but it is so utterly crucial that the GC has her own attorney with whom she can go over all of her rights, responsibilities, and legal risks.

            We cannot change the financial and educational status of the parties, but having competent lawyers helps to level the playing field. And “best practices” is not to allow a woman to serve as a surrogate unless her family is already financially stable. This helps to avoid exploitation of women who are only seeking to serve as surrogates to put food on the table for their own kids, because women in those kinds of situation often cannot make good choices about whether surrogacy (and its attendant risks) are right for them. Best practices is to avoid exploitation, and to even the legal playing field, so that the arrangement can be as fair as possible.

  52. me
    June 28, 2013 at 9:55 am #

    I can understand being a little disappointed (I guess), if you really wanted to be there/take pics/whatever. Personally, I took the first baths as an opportunity to catch a shower and a nap for myself. But to be “hurt” almost “to” (lol) years later? Put it this way, if that’s the worst thing that happened during your hospital stay, consider yourself lucky and move on!

    I do think there are times when women go to the hospital to have their babies and get truly mistreated, even assaulted/abused (I’ve heard, read, and witnessed some truly appalling things). Your baby getting a bath without your prior written approval is simply not one of them.

    • SkepticalGuest
      June 28, 2013 at 10:13 am #

      I have hospital horror stories from my son’s birth–the epidural not working (and everyone refusing to fix it), the nurses leaving me in the bathroom when I fell, couldn’t stand up and pulled the emergency string (they thought I was a post-partum whiner when I said I couldn’t walk and refused me help in getting around…turns out I had a serious pelvic injury from the birth)…plus the pettiness of being denied OJ (they thought water was a healthier choice and told me I was “abusing my juice privileges”), ongoing pressure to breast feed, and opening my curtains at 9 am telling me I had to set my baby’s day/night rhythms (forget that I had been awake 66 hours in a row when my son was born, and was up a few more after that due to a severe PPH).

      The hospital I was at DID respect my wished not to bathe my son. Call me strange, but I loved that newborn, pre-bath smell. But really, I wish they treated me better and the biggest disappointment of my stay was having my son get a bath without me.

      • KarenJJ
        June 28, 2013 at 10:22 am #

        My husband gave our kids their first baths. I got to watch from the wheel chair they used for me post c-section. It was a nice moment for him. Having had that, if we had another baby and the hospital didn’t give us that opportunity I think we’d flag it as a potential improvement for future patients. I would probably feel a bit miffed (I can’t speak for my husband but he might feel that he’d missed out on something special).

        Come to think of it I never gave my boy his first feed. I was recovering from a c-section and he was on oxygen. He doesn’t remember it and I only did just then. It never occurred to me that it was something to worry about (was far more concerned about other things) and I hadn’t thought of it in this context before. At the time I was relieved they’d fed him and hadn’t let him cry all night.

      • auntbea
        June 28, 2013 at 3:40 pm #

        “Juice privileges”? Really?

      • AmyP
        June 28, 2013 at 7:05 pm #

        How and when did you find out about the pelvic injury?

        This all sounds terrible.

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