It's Midwife Motivation Monday week three! I hope you've all had a wonderful week and are feeling fascinated, empowered and valued as midwives and midwives in the making.
But I also know it's easy to get tired and frustrated - which is what Midwife Motivation Mondays is all about. It's a place for you to get your mojo back and recall exactly why midwifery is such an important, life changing job.
This week is all about smiling and babies. I know parents ask me all the time when newborns first smile - and often look at their beautiful, blissed out baby post feed and say 'well that's obviously just wind'...
The truth is babies smile even in utero from around 26 weeks.
An Italian study (Dondi et al 2007) found newborns smile most often when falling asleep or waking up. They're not sure why they smile - it might be because they're practising the expression or because it's a 'briefer action representing a motor phenomenon idiosyncratic to the neonatal period' whatever that might mean (would it be too revolutionary for me to suggests they're smiling because they're happy?? It reminds me of the old, fallacious medical assumption that foetuses and neonates don't feel pain, and I have a paediatrician friend who likes to tell me babies don't feel hunger...obviously she's never worked on a postnatal ward overnight!).
Psychologists recognise babies start to smile socially around 2/3 months, meaning they smile in response to something, or turn to another to pass on a smile.
But the fact I found most amazing when researching this topic is social smiles are genetically programmed, as even blind babies begin to smile in response to a human voice, or other such event, at around 2 months.
So somewhere bound up in your DNA is an instruction to show your happiness to others by smiling, which is quite amazing.
I'll finish this post by referring you to a fascinating lecture on the science of smiling, Ron Gutman the 'smile researcher':
(It's an excellent account, and definitely made me smile, but it's a shame about the Mother Teresa reference).